On our way back to the car, we skirted this "lawn". I noticed that it was sprinkled with shreds of what looked like those bits of burnt paper that the wind picks up and tosses around when you're trying to get a bonfire going. Tiny bits.
|Splatters of dried creek mud from a shaken dog?|
I picked up one of the least tiny. It was dry and hard; the edges felt sharp. It had no recognizable shape, and was nearly black.
|Burnt bacon bits? Shreds of fused plastic bags?|
|One looked more reasonable.|
|And when I picked up another, I found it had a stem. I took it home for further investigation.|
|Mushrooms. The cap is about 1 cm. (under 1/2 inch) long. The stem adds another 2 cm. And there's a 3 cm. long root.|
|The cap, magnified, is similar to that of a morel.|
|And the underside has a nice reticulated pattern.|
I have never seen these before, nor can I find them in my guide or on the web. (I even tried Google's new image search; all that turned up were pages of people in black clothes, and dark leather handbags.) They may not be native to this area; they could have hitchhiked in bags of garden soil or compost.
They have no smell that I can notice, even crushed. The stem, dried, is as thin as sewing thread, and as tough. I don't dare try to taste them.
Have any of you found these? What are they, do you know?