September 25, 2012

A Walk in the September Woods: Fruiting Bodies

The delights of the early autumn woods are not limited to the reddening leaves. The mosses and lichens are also putting on a show, a miniature one, as they send up their oddly shaped reproductive structures, containing spores, that look as though they are waving in the breeze. (Please click on an image to enlarge and see a slide show of all the photos, which are much more wonderful when you can see the details.)

Some lichen have cup shaped structures, and are called, appropriately Pixie Cup lichen. The fruiting bodies are very small, maybe 1/2 inch high, so to photograph them I am usually down on my stomach, peering into what becomes for me a new way of seeing; the world is encompassed in a square foot space, in which there seems to be as much incident as in a square mile.

Some mosses also have fruiting bodies, here in delicate red filaments paying homage to a fallen leaf.

In this photo there are the fruiting bodies of mosses––those small threads topped with a bulbous form almost like a dressmakers pin––and of a fungus, because of course, mushrooms, which contain spores, are the fruiting bodies of fungi.

I love the orange jelly mushrooms, which look as though they are squeezing out of the wood; their translucent brilliant color is very eye catching.

Small puffballs are also popping up in the woods, and large ones on my lawn; matter of fact, I had a puffball sauteed in butter with lunch today, delicious!

And finally, my most exciting fruiting body find in a long time. These brilliantly colored small mushrooms (the stick they are on is about 2 1/2 inches in diameter) are the Violet toothed polypore. It was a thrill to see them since I'd never seen anything like this color before. There is always something to discover in the woods. As John Cage wrote
 One shouldn't go to the woods looking for something, but rather to see what is there. 


  1. What fantastic mushrooms, lichen etc. I have never seen any of these. I went on a guided mushroom walk with a group of mushroomers(?) a couple of weeks ago and saw mushrooms like I have never seen before. Just knowing there are things like this out in the woods makes me want to go out again. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Another outstanding blog and pictorials...thank you for sharing,Altoon.

  3. I'm happy you liked this post, Lisa and R Henry.
    Years ago I went on a mushroom walk with an expert; it was so much fun, and I learned a lot.

  4. I get those orange jelly mushrooms on my mulch pile and never realized that they were mushrooms, just "the creepy orange things". Thanks for sharing your mushroom tour.

    1. They are funny looking, aren't they, Estyn. Gooey, like those jelly insects, but I love their color.