I bet few if any organisms that so many people know so little about elicit more oohs and aahs then fungi. Many species are dazzling eye-grabbers and nearly anyone who notices the especially showy fungi will take a moment for a closer view.
And did the other day, when an especially striking clump of orangish mushrooms begged for a look.
Golden Pholiota, Pholiota limonella. This is one of the wood decomposers, and an especially striking species. Fungi are rich and varied; some estimates put the worldwide species total at over one million. Of course, no one really knows, and if you want to enter a field that is ripe for new discoveries, become a mycologist (fungi scientist, or perhaps, a "fun guy").
Golden Pholiotas feel funny. Touch one, and the sensation is just like sticking your finger into wet spongy bread dough. Kind of makes you recoil. And unlike good bread, you wouldn't want to eat it. This species wouldn't kill you, but according to firsthand accounts you would probably become unpleasantly ill.
In fact, it is wise to avoid eating ANY mushrooms unless you really, truly know your stuff. Some, like a number of the Amanitas, can kill you right smack dead.
It's been a decent fall for spectacular mushrooming in some areas, and I look forward to photographing some more. Maybe I will this weekend, with my new cool camera. It just arrived today, and all goes well with this new setup, perhaps we can look forward to better and improved photos on this blog!