Polypore fungi on cork tree

In the fall, we suddenly start to see fungi everywhere. The season usually starts when someone reports seeing a “baseball” or “soccer ball” in the woods and investigation turns up a giant puffball. This year we started photographing what we find, and this is a first attempt to sort the photos into divisions and classes. Any names we’ve assigned are tentative at the moment.

About mushrooms and fungi

by Christine Hanrahan

Mushrooms and fungi appeal to us in part because of the edibility of some species, but also because of their beauty and astonishing variety. However, fungi are more than pretty objects or culinary ingredients. They play a very important role in forest ecology, indeed, one could say, a vital role. Scientists are continually finding new ways in which the complex interactions of fungi in the forest ecosystem work. As Hoff et al. (2004) note,

Studies of fungal biodiversity in forest ecosystems can provide baseline information for determining interrelationships among
organisms and indicate potential roles of fungi in forest ecosystem dynamics. Understanding the role of fungi in forest
ecosystem processes is key to characterizing stability and succession of biological components (for example, trees), while information on fungal biodiversity can provide insight on sustaining fungi as beneficial resources.

The two main types of fungi are wood-rotting and mycorrhizal. Of the wood-rotting type, perhaps the most visible are the saprophytic mushrooms, the ones we often see after a rainfall. They serve as primary recyclers in the forest ecosystem. By breaking down woody material and other plant matter such as leaves, they not only help to replenish the soil through conversion of debris to humus, but are important for carbon and nitrogen cycling. Of
the saprophytes, polypores are generally considered the best and most efficient of the wood decaying fungi. The real work of these organisms goes on below the surface, and the fruiting bodies, or mushrooms, which we see, are just the visible manifestation of a complex structure.

The mycorrhizal fungi are important because of the symbiotic relation they form with many plants, in particular with trees. Although not all species of trees require this relationship to grow, some cannot thrive without it. Explaining how the mychorrhizal fungi work in relation to trees, Smith et al. (2004) note
The underground mycelium of the mushroom grows extensively around the root tips of specific trees forming a protective sheath with some mycelium penetrating into the root tissue. The mycelium grows also in the soil mass and, eventually, appears at the surface as typical mushroom fruit-bodies or underground as solid fungal masses. Many species of fungi have complex relationships with other unlikely organisms. Some insect species are entirely
dependent on symbiotic relationships with specific fungi. Some fungi produce chemical defences against herbivores for grasses and trees. One wood-rotting fungus even has a complex mutually beneficial relationship with flying squirrels.

Even parasitic fungi — those that occur on living trees and cause rot to set in, eventually killing the tree — have a beneficial role in forest ecology. As the tree dies, insects move in and further weaken the tree, but these insects attract species such as woodpeckers which in the process of tapping into the tree seeking insects, create cavities. These cavities provide homes for many species of birds and mammals such as flying squirrels. Downed trees or logs, give shelter and breeding sites for innumerable creatures including snakes, salamanders, toads, and insects which in turn are fed upon by other forest animals. When a tree falls it creates a gap in the canopy allowing more light to penetrate the forest floor, encouraging new growth.


Spores are produced inside a sac-like cell called an ascus. This large group of fungi includes morels, truffles,
mildews, ergots, and many wood-rotting species.
30 Sept 2006
Bisporella citrina — Lemondrops
Only a few millimetres in diameter
1 Oct 2006
Helvella crispa — White Elfin
4 cm tall; ground, Ash Woodlot
11 July 2007
Xylaria polymorpha — Dead Man’s
4-6 cm tall; growing out of rotted
tree stump next to BYG, 10 July
Photo by Brian Turnbull


Spores are produced externally at the ends of specialized cells called basidia.
Class Gasteromycetes — puffballs, earthstars, etc.
Spores are produced inside the fruiting bodies instead of being ejected into the air.
30 Sept 2006
Scleroderma? — Earthball
23 Sept 2006
Bovista pila(?) — Tumbling
many, all about 4-5 cm; on ground;
northwest corner of Ash Woodlot
30 Sept 2006
Calvatia gigantea — Giant puffball
15-20 cm diam.; Ash Woodlot
5 Oct 2006
0.5-1.5 cm; on buckthorn?; birch
Class Phragmobasidiomycetes — jelly fungi
Small, gelatinous. In dry weather these fungi shrivel and almost disappear, but rehydrate rapidly after rain.
30 Sept 2006
Witches’ Butter
16 Oct 2006
Dacrymyces palmatus — Orange
2-3 cm, on downed spruce trunk;
southeast corner of Ash Woodlot
30 Sept 2006
Exidia glandulosa? — Black
Witches’ Butter
Class Hymenomycetes
Coral fungi
Spores are produced by a layer of mother cells that covers the upward pointing branches of these fungi.
1 Oct 2006
Grey Coral(?)
6 cm tall; ground, Ash Woodlot
23 Sept 2007
Clavulinopsis corniculata (?)
4 cm tall; ground, Ash Woodlot
Bracket fungi or polypores
Grow on wood; usually shelf-shaped; spores are produced in tubes on the underside of the fruiting body, which
open via pores, which form a distinctive pattern.
12 Sept 2007
Plicaturposis crispa
1-2.5 cm; on birch log, Ash Woodlot
5 Apr 2007
Plicaturposis crispa
30 Sept 2006
Polyporus umbellatus
30 Sept 2006 3-6 cm; on Birch; birch grove
30 Sept 2006
6 Oct 2006
Ganoderma applanatum — Artist’s
About 15 cm diam., but thin; on
Birch; birch grove
30 Sept 2006
Ischnoderma resinosum
20 Oct 2006
Daedalea quercina — Oak
Largest about 10 cm long; pores
labyrinthine at centre with band of
elongated ones along outer edge;
on oak branch, Ash Woodlot
30 Sept 2006
Fomes fomentarius — Tinder
15 cm, hoof shaped perennial; on
Birch; birch grove
30 Sept 2006
Another Tinder Polypore
30 Mar 2007
Pore surface of Tinder Polypore;
photo width = 1 cm
23 Sept 2006 30 Sept 2006
Panellus stipticus
12 Sept 2007
Panellus stypticus
1.75 cm across; on birch; Ash
11 Sep 2007
Trametes pubescens
3-5 cm diam.; immature cluster on
birch snag near ravine
11 Sep
Trametes pubescens
5 Oct 2006
Cerrena unicolor?
2-7 cm, fuzzy upper surface; on
Buckthorn; birch grove
Sept 2007
Trichaptum biforme — Violet-pored
1-4 cm, smooth, thin; on birch
snag; birch grove
5 Oct 2006
Trichaptum biforme — Another view
5 Oct 2006
Under side of bracket at left
showing deep purplish pore surface
16 Oct 2006
On birch
16 Oct 2006
1 cm bracket on Cork Elm with
many lichens
5 Oct 2006
Trametes versicolor — Turkey Tails
3-10 cm, smooth, thin; on fallen
dead wood; Ash Woodlot
5 Oct 2006
Phlebia radiata?
Largest patch about 20 cm; on
birch; birch grove
16 Oct 2006
Grifola frondosa — Hen of the
Several, about 10 cm diameter, at
the base of a large Red Oak tree in
the Ash Woodlot
May 2007
Polyporus squamosus — Dryad’s
4-15 cm diam; small one found in
June 2006; very large one in May
2007 on large rotting, but fairly dry,
log in the ravine
12 Nov 2007
Irpex lacteus covering one side of a
branch of a crabapple
Boletes or sponge mushrooms
Generally grow on the ground near trees; underside is made up of thousands of tubes, through which the
spores are released
10 Sept 2007
Gyrodon merulioides — Ash Bolete
About 7 cm diameter; on ground in
Ash Woodlot
23 July 2007
Gyrodon merulioides
3 Oct 2006
Suillus americanus? — White Pine
About 12 and 7 cm; northwest
corner of Ash Woodlot
Jan 2007
Unknown; found at northwest
corner of Ash Woodlot; 8-10 cm
Gill fungi
Classification depends on spore colour, among other things.
23 Sept 2006 23 Sept 2006
Stropharia aeruginosa? —
Verdigris mushroom
4.5 cm diam., up to 10 cm tall;
ground under pines; Ash Woodlot
30 Sept 2006
23 Sept 2006 30 Sept 2006 30 Sept 2006
30 Sept 2006 30 Sept 2006 30 Sept 2006
30 Sept 2006
30 Sept 2006
Coprinus comatus — Shaggy Mane
23 Sept 2006
23 Sept 2006 30 Sept 2006 5 Oct 2006
1-2 cm diam., about 7 cm tall; base
of Spruce tree; Ash Woodlot
3 Oct 2006 3 Oct 2006
Hypsizygus ulmarius? — Elm
16 Oct 2006
Same as at left, but 2 weeks later
3-10 cm diam., spores white, gills
very deep and completely detached
from stem, cap thin; on grafted elm
3 Oct 2006
10 cm diameter; under White
Snakeroot in Ash Woodlot
5 Oct 2006 5 Oct 2006
10 cm diam., very soft,
disintegrated when spore print
tried; under spruce; Ash Woodlot
16 Oct 2006
Clitocybe nuda? — Blewit? 7-12 cm
diam., spores pale peach, large
“root”; on ground under spruce
trees; northwest corner of Ash
30 Sept 2006
Schizophyllum commune — Split
Gill Fungus
30 Sept 2006
Schizophyllum commune — Split
Gill Fungus
11 Nov 2007
Grey mushrooms
1-4 cm; on ground under pines;
growing close together
11 Sept 2007
Amanita muscaria — Fly Agaric
8-9 cm; on ground under pines and
11 Sept 2007
Mycena sp.
About 2 mm; on oaks in Ash


  • Hoff JA, Klopfenstein NB, Tonn JR, McDonald GI, Zambino PJ, Rogers JD, Peever TL, Carris LM. 2004. Roles of woody root-associated fungi in forest ecosystem processes: recent advances in fungal identification. Res. Pap. RMRS-RP-47. Fort Collins, CO: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 6 pp.
  • Smith JE, Rowan NJ, Sullivan R. 2006. Medicinal mushrooms: their therapeutic properties and current medical usage with special emphasis on cancer treatments. Cancer Research UK.

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This page was created on 25 September 2018
© Fletcher Wildlife Garden
Photos by Christine Hanrahan and Sandy Garland (and others where noted)
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