Mushroom Hunting - Part 3 of 4

A few weeks ago I went for a hike in a forest north of Toronto with my new Nikon D3000 DSLR camera. I was experimenting with my new toy and at the same time delighting in the fall bounty of 'shrooms and flora that littered and occupied the woods.

See the previously posted Part 1 & Part 2 of my hike in the York Region Forest.

Unknown specimen. I love how the golden heads are poking up through the leaf and pine needle litter in the rich soil.

Turkey Tail: Trametes versicolor. From afar, you don't get much of an impression of this polypore bracket fungus, but up close, you see the many colours (the 'versicolor') of this beautiful fungus.

Turkey Tail: Trametes versicolor. You can see the detail of the spore scattering mechanism on this fungus - the many pores of the polypore. When the fungus dries out, the pores drop down and help to propagate the organism.

Turkey Tail: Trametes versicolor. This sacrophyte ("An organism, especially a fungus or bacterium, that grows on and derives its nourishment from dead or decaying organic matter") grows on dying or dead branches and trunks of trees. The organism produces enzymes that break down the lignin and cellulose of wood, and convert it into nutrients - sugars and amino acids and more.
"Lignin and Fungi

Lignin is a natural polymer of the cell wall that gives strength to wood. White rot fungi, which use cellulose as a carbon source, possess the unique ability to degrade lignin completely to carbon dioxide to access the cellulose molecule. Although this ability has been recognized for many years, only recently have investigators begun to understand the mechanisms by which this degradation is accomplished. Scientists hope that an understanding of how white rot fungus degrades wood will lead to its successful application in hazardous waste remediation.

The lignin degradation enzyme system of white rot fungi is extracellular and unusually nonspecific. Peroxidases and hydrogen peroxide, which are secreted by the fungi, catalyze reactions of the highly reactive and nonspecific free radicals, resulting in the depolymerization and degradation of lignin. Although lignin is naturally a highly oxidized polymer, it can eventually be completely oxidized to carbon dioxide by white rot fungi. Understanding how this is accomplished is central to understanding how many highly oxidized environmental pollutants can be degraded by the fungi. The extracellular biodegradation system also explains why the fungi can be quite resistant to toxic or mutagenic chemicals. "
Unknown specimen. The forest canopy afforded all kinds of lighting options - and all of a sudden, with a gust of wind, trees shifted and light created a nice silhouette of a fern on the cap of this gilled mushroom.

Unknown specimen. I think it would be fun to shrink down to the size of a mouse, and scurry about the woods with a camera (a correspondingly small camera).

Unknown specimen. This shows a beautiful example of the underside of a polypore mushroom. The patterns are exquisite (if you're in to that sort of thing...)!

Unknown specimen. Note that the underside of this beastie are the gills of a - yes, you guessed it - a gilled mushroom. This is an alternate mechanism for scattering pores. There are polypores, gilled, and the spore-shooters. The latter are quite dramatic, but less numerous than the former.

Unknown specimen. I had been sitting on a stump for a while, having some tea and relaxing when I spied this curiously orange/yellow specimen at my feet. I liked it. I still like it.

Cedar with white mushroom growing on bottom left of image. At one point, I found myself in a dark area of the woods, filled with cedars, and fragrant earth - a valley. Cedar needles covered the ground, and it seemed like a perfect place to set up a tarp and to camp overnight.

Trembling Aspens (Populus tremuloides). In a neighbouring region of the same forest, trembling aspens shook in the light wind and made the canopy look alive and magical. And no, I had not consumed any suspicious mushrooms at this point (or at any other point).

Azure Aster (Symphyotrichum oolentangiense).

Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus). This huge specimen accosted me as I wandered along a game trail - it was a Shaggy Mane which was getting older - the cap had opened up and had darkened. This mushroom is a classic edible, and people go a bit crazy for them - but you need to eat them before the cup opens...

Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus). Here is a Shaggy Mane in an earlier stage - the cap has not yet opened, and you see the rough, shaggy looking cap - like a British barrister's wig. At this stage, it is nice and edible. Gather a few, take them home, fry them up in butter and eat 'em.

Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus). I laid down on the forest floor to take this photograph from beneath - the mushroom was about 8 inches high.

Hope you've enjoyed these photos. Please use the comment feature below if you have any - well, comments - or questions.



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