Fun with Fungi

     So recently I have notice a lot of fungal activity in my backyard. Today, I decided to do some closer looking and analyze the various species I find. The analysis I did and the results can be found below the pictures:

First, I notice that this specimen is a stalk-less shelf mushroom with whitish coloration and two to three bands of tan color along its fairly wavy edge. Next, I see that the farthest the mushrooms sticks out from the wood is around 1″ and that the longest mushroom is around 1″-1&1/2 “. Underneath, the mushroom is has a much darker brown color with a slight hint of red. In the end, I cannot come up with any similar/possible species.

     This mushroom appears to be a polypore, slightly resembling the last, but this one is twice the size, has a darker tan color on the consistent edge that is slightly raised up from the rest of the body with small bumps on the inner edge. The underside is white, and descends down the wood as opposed to the example above, whose underside is flat. Again, I cannot come up with any similar species.

This is the first mushroom with a stalk. The stalk is moist, even, light brown at the bottom and transitioning to white at the top with a black ring zone. The gills are crowded, dark brown and adnexed. The cap is a lighter brown than the gills and slightly darker than the brown on the stalk. It is velvety, convex and with a black edge. All I can come up with is that it might be part of the family Collybia or possibly Lawn Mower’s Mushroom – Panaeolus fonisecii. My only problem is that the gills of that species are more of close to 
distant whereas  this specimen has gills closer to being crowded. Therefore, I cannot conclude that this 
specimen fits any species I can find.

     This final specimen does not look promising for a correct identification because of its usual color and characteristics, but maybe it will come up with some positive results. Lets start with the stalk. It is moist, even, white and lacking a sheath or ring zone. The gills are white, close and adnexed. The mushroom stands about 1&1/2 inches tall, its stalk is 1/4-1/2 an inch wide and the cap is about 1 inch across. The cap is smooth and varying in shade and hue throughout but is overall a tan brown. The edge of the cap is curvy and uneven and the shape is convex. These facts paired with its choice of habitat (grass) make it a great match with the Fried Chicken Mushroom – Lyophyllum decastes. This species gets its common name from the fact that when cooked, it tastes like fried chicken!

Overall, mushroom identification can be a taxing but rewarding process. There are so many species that have a degree of similarity that makes them challenging to identify sometimes, and there are no readily available comprehensible field guides to my knowledge,  but I use the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Mushroom of North America. This field guide has pretty good pictures with great descriptions and helpful ID tips for over 703 species all across North America. I think the small world of fungi is an fun and interesting one – one definitely worth checking out!

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