Monday, September 13, 2010

Chanterelle Waxycap

Glowing like luminescent orange beacons, a cluster of Chanterelle Waxycaps, Hygrocybe cantharellus, is sure to catch the eye. These were shot in the gloomy understory of a Columbiana County forest recently. NOTE: I THINK they're this species, but as always I welcome corrections by those more knowledgeable, especially when I enter a realm that is murky to me.

I like mushrooms, a lot. And wish I knew more about them. Their infinite patterns, textures, and shapes are fascinating. Some, like this chanterelle, are such a delectable color that one wants to snatch them up and shovel them in the old pie-hole.

I wouldn't recommend that. Not unless you are absolutely sure of what fungus it is that you lust for. In the case of chanterelles, at least some authorities recommend avoiding the entire group, or at least the genus Hygrocybe, as apparently none are particularly tasty and some can cause serious damage.

Anyway, 'shrooms make for fabulous photographic subjects. It is like magic, how they spring from the musty detritus of dank forest floors, the impossible climaxes of the vast unseen subterranean world of fungi. Without doubt, the least boring and most outrageous scientific texts are those that deal with mushrooms. In many cases, one might wonder if their authors sampled some of the more mind-bending varieties before taking pen to paper. One can easily excuse these seemingly unscientific excesses - the world of mushrooms seem to demand an alternate approach; certainly not the staid, often BORING take of most botanists.
Eastern Box Turtle, an animal that operates at the level of most mushrooms. Armor-plated and with an equally bullet-proof constitution, these long-lived forest tortoises certainly notice the fungus among us.

And eat them. I caught this one in the act of wolfing down Russula emetica last year in Gallia County; a mushroom that you certainly wouldn't want to consume. One of its common names is The Sickener, which is a two-by-four to the side of the head clue to steer clear of putting this one down the gullet. If you do what Mr. Turtle is doing, you'd soon be sending out unpleasant plumes from both ends.

So, unless you are a box turtle, or an expert on mushrooms, or both, LOOK - don't EAT.


Wally said...

I can't tell from your photos, but the orange mushrooms might be Mycena leaiana. Those and Hygrocybe cantharellus look very similar from above. If the gills are free from the stem, then they're Mycena. If the gills are attached and continue down the stem then they're definitely... something other than Mycena :D I love mushrooms too, and I have a few books about them, but I can't claim to know a lot. They're so mysterious.

Cathy said...

It's the specter of 'plumes out both ends' and DEATH - that have limited my wild foragings to the 5 or so 'safe' fungi.

And that's after very very careful study.

Morel still at top of the list.

Sulfur shelf a close second.

Now here's trick that helped me get a great time exposure of glowing omphalotus illudens:

Wax paper. That's right. After a couple years of no success I learned to wrap a clump of it in wax paper for a few hours. Stick it inside your vest. Whatever.

I sat a clump of it on a horizontal mirror in a small dark room.

Opened the camera shutter and waked away.


Unknown said...

Funny you should use the phrase "coming out both ends"! Some years ago, my parents ate some mushrooms they thought were chanterelles, but turned out to be jack-o'-lantern 'shrooms, sometimes called false chanterelles. The effect was as you described above, and upon recovering their GI health they went out and stomped the remaining specimens to a fare-thee-well!!

Ian Adams said...


I'm fairly sure that the mushrooms in your photos are the Orange Mycena,
Mycena leaiana, and not a Hygrocybe.
The Hygrocybes tend to be more reddish, and the gills are usually more decurrent than in the Orange Mycena, which has free gills. Also, the mushroom stems in your photo appear to be somewhat cespitose, whereas the Hygrocybes tend to grow in groups, but with more separation between the individual mushrooms.
Do you recall the substrate on which the mushrooms were growing? The Orange Mycena favors trunks of downed maple and beech trees, and they are fairly common in northeast Ohio right now, though few other agarics are currently fruiting because of the very dry conditions over the past few weeks.

As always, I enjoy your excellent and very informative blog!

Ian Adams

You are right about mushrooms being very photogenic - they are one of my favorite subjects.

Jim McCormac said...

Thanks all for your comments, and Wally and Ian for pinpointing the ID. Mycena leaina looks good to me.

All I know is that it is a pretty orange mushroom, makes for nice photos, and I will not eat it :-)



As always, click the image to enlarge At the onset of last Monday's aquatic expedition (perhaps more on that later) to Rocky Fork ...