Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fur, lace, horses' hooves, and toasted cheese

The best time to visit the forested side hill of the Watershed Park, is after a week or so of solid rain. (Typical BC spring weather, in other words.) Then every downed tree, every stump, every mossy branch shelters mushrooms and slimes. They come in all sizes and shapes, from twisted threads to wide, flat, "cowpie" shrooms, in all colours; purple, blue-green, white, orange and yellow, brown, even black. We scramble over logs and through blackberry patches, getting wet and scratched and muddy, unheeding, following the glimmer of yet another beauty just beside that next stump.

And this year, we missed our window. The weather has been almost summery; we had started the daily watering of the gardens after several days without rain. And the Watershed is dry. The rainy-day mushrooms are gone, disappeared back into the ground until the rains return.

So yesterday's little pearly shrooms were all we could find. Or so it seemed, until we turned our attention to the "boring", as in "always there" polypores, the hard, woody, dull shelf fungi. And there they were; everywhere we looked, and as beautiful, if not as fragile, as the delicate mycenas and glowing orange slimes.

On the standing trees:

Tall birch, still growing, but already home to dozens of polypores.

On fallen logs:

Birch on the ground. And a couple of polypores. The large one is a tinder polypore, aka horse's hoof fungus.

Another two on a birch log. They grow on dead and dying hardwood trees.

A different hardwood. Young maple, maybe? And a broken polypore, showing the brick-red interior.

Back of a shelf polypore, showing it's pen-and-ink scribbles.

Probably a red-belted polypore. These are extremely variable. The fruiting body, usually the bottom while the tree is standing, is white on a young polypore, turning to brown as it ages.

Front view of the same fungus.

Dye polypore. This one is soft and spongy. It grows on dead wood, and on the ground near evergreens.

Young 'uns. Probably red-belted polypore. They look good enough to eat, like toasted cheese bagels with cream cheese. They're not.

Fuzzy brown and white. Unidentified shelf fungus.

Zooming in to show the fur cloaks and lacy petticoats of these fashion-conscious belles.

And some strange trees, tomorrow.

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