The distinctive Orange Peel fungus occurs on disturbed, compacted soils along trails or gravelly soils (or perhaps just plain gravel like here!). Aleuria aurantia is a tertiary decomposer and thus very important in the ecosstem. Other fungi, or primary and secondary decomposers do the initial organic material breakdown, then A. aurantia comes in and breaks down the complex molecules. Some are absorbed back into the fungus for nutrition and the rest is used by plants and soil dwelling organisms for their nutrition. We don't have many of these around...at least not this year which is too bad. After you have stopped cursing someone for flinging their orange peels on the path, you can appreciate the splash of colour that these provide on days like this where there are only many shades of grey.
These small pointy caps are found singly or in clusters on well rotted wood. Mycena haematopus is found in the spring and summer, mainly on the shady slopes below the Big-leafed Maple. It is called blood-foot or Bleeding Mycena because a red liquid exudes from the base. I also found "Bleeding Fairy Helmet" as an English name but that seemed a bit macabre.
Thanks to Tracee Geernaert for ID help!
One of the commoner boletes found on southern Vancouver Island (Xerocomellus chrystenteron, formerly Boletus chrystenteron). Chryst comes from the Greek krysos or gold and enteron refers to the "innards". The photograph does not do the beautiful golden innards justice. This mushroom made me think of crackly cinnamon and brown sugar on toast with butter.....
These tiny cups were found on a piece of cut Douglas-fir wood, waiting for a drop of rain to sploosh out the peridioles (egg) as far as a couple of metres. The sticky mucilage that the eggs sit in within the peridium or nest will help them stick where ever they land. The outer wall of the peridiole will eventually decay to release the spores contained within. This is Nidula candida, nidula meaning "tiny nest" in Latin and candida meaning white.
When they are younger they have a lid that covers the inside of the nest -this had disappeared by the time that we found these ones.
Clavulina cristata is a mycorrhizal fungus that grows on the ground and is scattered beneath the Douglas-fir. They start out glowing white and become kind of peachy yellow with age. There are some complications with identification as there is another fungus that will attack this one, changing the colour so that it is similar to a different Clavulina. One author just suggests referring to all white pointy corals as belonging to the "Clavulina cristata group". I'm good with that!
Rubbery, gelatinous and with a bit of a glow makes this fungus somewhat surreal growing from downed woody material and decaying stumps in damp areas. The spores are produced from the "teeth" or spines that extent from the lower surface. Pseudohydnum gelatinosum is the only jelly fungus with teeth. Cat's Tongue or Jelly Hedgehog are two other descriptive English names. There are two forms, one with a stalk like this one and without. The stalkless for is more common in the east. Where we are not.
Earthballs (Scleroderma cepa) are a tough skinned, puffball-like fungus that is found in cultivated areas and paths at Leaning Oaks. They appear in late summer (in areas where we irrigate) or after the rains come in the fall in other parts of the garden. If you split them the interior is an amazing deep purple colour. Eventually they crack and split and produce large quantities of dark brown spores. Sometimes when these split they do so in a way that makes them look a messy version of an earthstar. Poisonous, but a useful ectomycorrhizal fungus used as a soil inoculant in agriculture and horticulture.
The Tarspots are a group of fungi that infect leaves. This one (Rhytisma punctatum) is a common, but relatively benign, fungus that infects Bigleaf Maple. It is most notable in the fall when the leaves of Bigleaf Maple start to fall. At this time of year one can clearly see the black, tarry areas where the fungus sporulates. The fungus protects the chlorophyll in the leaf from the usual breakdown by bacteria that an autumn leaf experiences. This leaves a green spot in the infected area while the rest of the leaf turns yellow. The result is interesting and sometimes attractive patterns on the carpet of maple leaves on the forest floor. Today was the first day I noticed significant numbers of Bigleaf Maple leaves on the ground - another sure sign that summer is truly over.
Once again, a common and seemingly distinctive species on Leaning Oaks proved to be a more challenging identification exercise than anticipated! This beautifully coloured fungus is found on dead branches of the Garry Oak. These specimens were on branches that had broken off on the ground.
Most references to this species indicates no accepted English name with one exception that used "Crowded Parchment" which seems aptly descriptive. Dave suggested "Ochraceous False Turkey Tail". I thought maybe "Ochraceous Ruffled False Turkey Tail". That may be a tad long! Any other suggestions?
Identification was done via the "Trial Key to STEREUM in the Pacific Northwest" http://www.svims.ca/council/Stereu.htm#nSpe
When I was a park naturalist one of the activities we used to do with school groups was to hand out small pieces of brightly coloured paint chips, in an array of gaudy and improbable colours. Each student was sent into the forest with the goal of finding some organism that had as close a match to their colour as possible. If we were doing this with a group in the fall, students would often find this fungus to match yellow or orange colours. Dacrymces chrysospermus (most field guides call this D. palmatus) is one of a number of orange jelly fungi found on southern Vancouver Island. Here at Leaning Oaks it almost always grows on Douglas-fir wood that is just starting to decay. It starts out bright yellow and becomes a rich tangerine orange before almost disappearing completely as a tan scum (see photo below for a very young and almost dried up fruiting body). A very useful key to the local jelly fungus can be found at http://www.svims.ca/council/Jelly.htm#nYel
Two biologists on a beautiful property armed with cameras, smart phones and a marginal knowledge of websites took up the challenge of documenting one species a day on that property. Join along! Posts and photographs by Leah Ramsay and David Fraser (unless otherwise stated; started January 1, 2014.