Friday, July 01, 2011

Crispy challenger

Along the side of the back road leading in to Cougar Creek Park, someone has been tidying up. They've removed the litter left by kids on their way to and from the school across the creek, spread clean garden soil over the greasy gravel, and planted grass seed; a soft, fine grass more suited to a quiet lawn. It won't last in that spot, not unless they convince the kids to stay off it, but it looks really nice at the moment.

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?



  1. I was going to suggest ergot (Claviceps) but I don't think it produces caps like that. (So that's my completely useless 2c!)

  2. Well, now I know what ergot looks like. Thanks!

    And following up Claviceps, I found a German site with great photos of strange shrooms. Pilzfotopage.Alas, not this one. But I've bookmarked the site; a few of those looked like things I've seen around here.

  3. Thanks for this great link! With all the rain we've had in the Cariboo, there are many mushrooms I've never seen before popping up everywhere. I've found the names of at least two of them, through this site.

    It's very unusual to see mushrooms here on my is usually much too dry. I love photographing mushrooms...the only mushroom I know for sure is safe to eat is the chanterelle, heh!

    I wish I could have helped!

  4. I too am clueless - I've never seen anything like these.

    I did notice, however, that the mushroom in your 2nd photo down is shaped like a heart!!! :=}

  5. So strange....these are the same mushrooms that have been recently popping up in my garden area. We have recently (in May) newly soiled the area, using compost as well. All organic. We planted veggies and such and I have been worried about the safety of eating them due to all of these mushrooms growing along side and woven throughout them. I was doing my research and your page is the first I have come across that shows them. I have not found anything else. I will continue to look. Please post more if you find anything new. Thank you!


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