After our recent rainy spell I had the opportunity to walk home from a client’s house through a wonderful section of Menlo Park with no sidewalks and lots of old-ish, interesting small ecosystems to explore.
Above is a great example, a front yard with various zones of shrubs and wild-looking areas. Beautiful, no? This comes very close to being a true deep nature garden.
There were many wonderful photos that offered themselves in that diffuse, after-the-storm lighting. They will fuel great future blog posts.
This particular sequence is about the amazing fungi (and two slime molds) that manifested along the way.
This will require several posts, or maybe a few more…
Above: This was the first one that popped out at me. Mushrooms that get their nutrients from wood are called “lignicolous” and this one certainly is. It’s coming right out of the bark of an old oak tree.
Mushrooms are notoriously hard to identify, which is one reason why it’s such a bad idea to try to collect them yourself for food. There are a few obvious ones like the shaggy mane and the meadow mushroom, but people get in trouble all the time.
Some of these shrooms I can identify right away, some I can pinpoint with some research, and some will forever remain unnamed. Such is the lore of fungi.
What kind is this oak-eating mini-jewel? It’s what we call an “LBM” or “little brown mushroom.” Might be an Armillaria, but its surface looks too rough.
Scouting eyes soon picked out the next catch, a waxy, wet looking yellow beauty in the deep shade under some old live oaks. See the acorns in the back?
Right there on top, another special find! A fungus fly, magically materialized out of nowhere just to sit serenely atop this amazing shroom.
Deep in the dark recesses under a huge mass of mixed oak, laurel, and ailanthus: A noble temple of the fungi, fully expanded, shedding millions of spores into the moist air.
The upper right dark spot on the cap is — you guessed it, a fungus fly.
Beneath a laurel tree was this trio of white parasols. One of them has tilted, probably from its own weight in the soft leaf litter.
This beautiful domed shroom emerged under a live oak among struggling Vinca and wild strawberry. The striations around the rim reflect the gills underneath. The stem is surrounded by a veil of thin tissue.
We end this segment with a distinctive purple jewel. If I am right, it’s a blewitt, which is frequently seen around here, especially in the coastal hills.
What a beautiful purple being!