Winter Fungi

Previously, we discussed animals we can find in winter.  Now, lets see what kind of fungi we can find on the winter hikes coming up.  The nice, fleshy, and sometimes edible, mushrooms of summer are gone.  We probably won’t find any we can put on our dinner table, unless you feel you don’t have enough fiber in your diet.

When encountering a large fungus, look at the bottom side.  You’ll find that most summer mushrooms have gills, while most of the woody fungi we’ll find now, have teeth or pores.  It is here where the single celled spores are created which, when mature, are expelled, carried by the wind and, those that land in a suitable spot, germinate to create a new fungus.  Although the woody fungi are created in the summer, they persist through the winter.  Many of them can be found on dead logs, which are the fungus’s food scource.  The mycelium, located throughout the inside of the log, decay the log and eventually remove it from the landscape.  In nature, no organic food scource gats wasted.  We found many of these woody fungi on last Sunday’s hike, mostly on dead logs.  Doug Bassett, chief naturalist at Letchworth State Park, is considered a top expert on polypore fungi, and has a great collection of them which he’ll be glad to show you.

Sarcoscypha coccineaBut, also look for the unexpected in winter.  On last Sunday’s, hike, we found a patch of colorful scarlet cup fungi, Sarcoscypha Coccinea.  This is one of the first fungi to appear in the early spring but, can also germinate in the winter, if it’s warm, like its been.


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