Fall Fungi Bonus Round

And you thought the Fun(gi) was over. Ha!

Let’s start the party with this amazing Russula beauty that looks like it has been out on the tiles –


Ok, so it isn’t perfect, but the color contrast was irresistible and I really liked that the cap had dried to reveal more nuance in the colors. When they’re fresh they are a more uniform red. Also the debris that’s collected, mostly hemlock needles, adds a certain ambience in a way. I was tempted to clean it out, but I left it. It’s like having a key dish near your door; stuff collects and if you sift through it tells a story. Ok, maybe that’s going a little far, but it’s part of the story that I like to tell with mushrooms. That yes, they can be disruptive and ephemeral, but they are ever present and vital, too. Did that even make sense, lol?

Moving on, here’s a nice little group of what I think are common Mycena. No way I could resist them on the end of this mossy log and in so many stages of development. Some walkers came by on the trail and were very nice about asking if they could go by me or if they’d ruin my shot. They wouldn’t (and didn’t), but it was nice to be asked.

This next one is fun – Resinous polypore! Although I’ve known about it for a while now, I’ve never noticed any doing the resin thing they’re known for. According to most sources, they secrete this resin when the fruiting body is young and it starts out clear like this –

Ischnoderma resinosum

Then it turns amber colored like this –

Ischnoderma resinosum


As they age, they become less pillowy and more like a regular polypore. This is an especially nice looking pair not far from the first image. They fruit on dead wood, either stumps, logs or whole trees. I was so glad for focus stacking because without it I’d have had one or the other of the mushrooms blurry. I did blur the ground a bit in Photoshop because it helped keep attention from going there. You’re looking at it now, aren’t you. LOL. Probably shouldn’t have told you, but sometimes I like to share a little about how I got to the final shot you get to see.

Ischnoderma resinosum

And here’s a look from behind the camera taking that shot –

And a big old Bolete! It’s about 4 inches across and apparently quite tasty to something that made those neat, perfectly round holes in it. No idea.

Leccinum var. – could be sp. vulpinum or versipelle

Once again I should pick and more closely examine mushrooms when I have no idea what they are. A few sources suggest this is a type of Armillaria or Honey mushroom, but I’m not convinced. Sure there were others nearby, but Honeys tend to cluster and bunch and this was a loner. Admittedly I’ve seen lone Honeys before, but the cap seems wrong to me. Too bell-shaped, but there are varieties this dark so it’s a possibility. Eight books and the internet and I still don’t know. Ah the joys of mushrooming.


Another favorite that I’ve only recently learned to identify is the lovely and aptly named Deadly Galerina although I really prefer its other common name the Funeral Bell. Other names include Deadly Skullcap and Autumn Skullcap. It makes the same amatoxins that many Amanita varieties produce and death results from liver failure along with other lovely symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and hypothermia. Nice.

Galerina marginata


Perfectly cute and ordinary and could be confused with Orange Mycena, but you can distinguish these deadly beauties by the little ring or skirt left behind by the universal veil, and by the cottony growth at the base of the stipe. Stipes are usually tan and variegated like they are here. They fruit on dead wood and can be found in small groups or singly. Just don’t be tempted to pop one in your mouth.

Galerina marginata

More behind the scenes –

Speaking of amatonxins, here’s a gorgeous little Destroying Angel. Probably variety Bisporigera and well left alone except to marvel at its beauty. I couldn’t resist this one in dappled sunlight and moss! You can see the remains of the egg just at the base of the stipe and it has some remnants on the cap, too. A hungry critter has taken a few bites, but don’t try this at home. I stupidly forgot my macro lens in the car and so I used my Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 for these two plus a couple of the Resinous Polypore shots. It focuses quite close and does focus bracketing no problem.

Amanita var.

I found this one just after and not far from the one above. I think it’s a type of Cortinarius, but I’m not sure which. Corts are another genus that are best left alone as many are quite poisonous and will make you very sick indeed. But look how cute this one is all nestled in the moss and goldthread. Too bad they don’t flower and fruit at the same time, but alas, goldthread is an early spring bloomer. The leaves that remain are part of what makes the forest floor so wonderful.

Cortinarius sp. ?

And now the ubiquitous and lovely Birch polypore! This is a big one fruiting on a dead birch that was flat on the ground. It’s about 6 inches across and I really liked the way the two logs framed it so I positioned the tripod over it for a rather extensive bracketing session. I think I ended up using a couple dozen photos to make the stack. That smooth texture next to the rough bark was a delight, too.

Piptoporus betulinus

So now we’ve returned to where we started, with Russula emetica, aka The Sickener. Who would suspect such a cute little thing would make you feel so bad? But it will and so will others in the Russula family so best just look and not munch. They are also quite fragile and are grouped under the name Brittlegills for a reason. I’ve accidentally wrecked one by trying to clean up the scene and have always been extra careful since.

Russula sp. probably emetica


All of these have been focus stacks of varying sizes. The biggest is the Resinous polypore detail with the amber drops – 57 images! If it wasn’t for the technique called slabbing which is making sub-stacks, I’d probably still be retouching it!

If you still haven’t had enough and want to see a few more that didn’t make it to the blog, check out the Gallery Here.

Oh and I just found out that the National Audubon Society is going to release an updated version of their Mushrooms of North America Field Guide!!! Woo hoo! While the current one is a great resource, it is so old that most of the taxonomy has changed. I’m also looking forward to additional species discoveries, photographs and other modern ID characteristics and techniques. Here’s a look at the new cover as shown on the Alfred A. Knoph website (publisher for the Audubon guides) and the one that basically every serious mushroom enthusiast has.

While we’re on the subject of field guides, I bought the updated Petersen guide and have found it a real treasure. It’s the only fungi book I have that uses illustrations rather than photographs and while you might find that perplexing given I am a photographer and wonder how something that isn’t a photo could be better, I’ll explain. Often illustrators can more effectively show or emphasize important or identifying characteristics than a photographer can because that characteristic may be hard to see, absent or in a smaller form than it might be in a different specimen. Photographers have to take what nature gives. Painters though, can create a completely new depiction. Drawings are a good way to show an object in its typical form, but also how it might change over time or through its development. Many illustrated books show similar species on the same page so that you can quickly scan the look-alikes and determine which is probably your target.

Famously the Sibley bird books feature his illustrations and use groups of similar birds to help narrow identification. His illustrations are so good and he uses a similar approach to the one Audubon himself used of showing different postures, flying positions, behaviors, etc., that no one complains about there being no pictures. My beloved spider ID book is also illustrated and shows like species together on one page for easy scanning. The drawing is so fine and intricate that its easy to use and beautiful to look at.

Plus the Petersen guide has some humor baked in. Check out this gem –

“The group of mushrooms called Brittlegills (Russula) is one of the most speciose groups of mushrooms worldwide. They are important in many forest ecosystems of the world. They are also incredibly hard to identify for amateurs and professionals alike, with or without microscopes. So as you study these pages and others that have Brittlegills, make your best guess and don’t worry about the exact species name. If you really want to worry about the species of Brittlegills, seek out one of two people in the entire world who are qualified to help you study Russulas so that you can start a graduate program in mycological systematics, and the rest of us will thank you for years to come.”

Peterson field guide to mushrooms of North America

OMG – nerdy fungi humor. Priceless.


3 thoughts on “Fall Fungi Bonus Round

Add yours

  1. I so enjoy your nature studies, whether fungi and such to alligators in the swamps and kayaking everywhere. Wicked Dark Photography is probably one of my favorite blogs. Thanks!

    1. Awww shucks, ma’am. I’m so glad you like it. I have fun with the photography and usually the writing, too. Just finished another post and so I have all of December ‘in the can’ as they used to say.

  2. Had to laugh at Petersons explaining the specific species. So true in this world of mushrooms. We have people here in Netherlands that are very specific to finding one specific species.
    Wonderful captures you have. Fungi always such a cool world to explore. Thanks for sharing.

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