August 20, 2010

A Walk in the Woods: Curious Mushrooms

I suppose that one day I will no longer be surprised by mushrooms, but for now, they still startle me with their sometimes odd appearance. When we think 'mushroom', we usually have an image of a toadstool shaped fungus, but they grow in so many other shapes, as in the large funnel-shaped mushroom above, with its tongues curving inward, as though drawing in a victim, an animate figure in a science fiction drama.

Coral shaped mushrooms aren't rare, but they are a marvel: a bit of the undersea on the forest floor.

These very small tubular eruptions from the litter of the path would have been easy to miss if I hadn't had my eyes insistently gazing downward. They came up in small groups, each 'finger' swaying to its own rhythm.

There are some mushrooms called Jellies, and from the photo above, you can see why: a beautiful gem-like translucence. There is a mushroom pictured in my field guide that looks similar to this, and which has a magical common name: Witches' Butter.

Finally, nestled among very small toadstools was this strange shaped yellow mushroom, looking like the head and neck of a graceful bird. I assume it's a member of the Earth Tongues, a perfect name for a form rising from the ground and tasting the air above.


  1. These are incredible finds Altoon!
    Funghi are so otherwordly in a way... love these ones in the last photo with their little orange button tops.
    Looks like very moist earth and ground cover... who know what will be found!

  2. yes, getting into the world of mushrooms is like Alice through the looking glass, or like being on another planet. I'm glad you enjoyed these, Sophie and rappel.

  3. Altoon, great shots. I've been amazed with the mushrooms I've been seeing and wish I knew more of the edible values of them. Those yellow fingers, yes, like underwater coral!

  4. Thanks Maggie. I also wish I knew more about the edibles; the only mushrooms I'll dare to eat are chantarelles and puffballs.