Friday, October 12, 2007

Fungus Amongus

At the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, we know our birds. The National Audubon Society was formed to help protect birds. With help from various experts we also have a good idea what plants (Dr. Richard Porcher), reptiles/amphibians (Dr. Julian Harrison) and mammals we have within the sanctuary. However, we lack comprehensive knowledge regarding the resident insects and fungi.

With the help of the current seasonal naturalists, we intend to catalog all the fungi that we can find. It will take some work because there is a whole lot of fungus amongus! We're thankful for the fungi because without it we would be buried beneath leaves, limbs, trees, and other organic material that accumulates daily on the forest floor. Fungi are part of the decomposer army that helps recycle nutrients back into the forest food web.

The images show a sample of the cataloging effort. The "toadstool" shows a Southern Toad (Bufo terrestris) next to the edible Russula xerampelina, which seems to be a favorite food for rodents, including squirrels. The blue fungi is Milky Indigo (Lactarius indigo), which is also listed as edible. Note to staff: Send memo to George Carlin regarding his statement that there is no blue food.
We would need the help of an expert mycologist with double five-star qualifications before we dine on any swamp fungus. The final specimen would never tempt us, but it sure attracted a crowd of insects. It smelled like a cross between a rotting carcass and something worse. We haven't identified it yet, but we quickly came up with several unprintable common name suggestions.

Photos by: Nicomas Dollar Red Horse

1 comment:

chris enke said...

That is what is called a lobster mushroom. It is a russula that has been parasitized by a mold called hypomyces lactiflourum.