Drought Ends, Fungi Respond
Much of Florida experienced a long drought that developed over the winter and spring of 2016-17. By May 30, 72% of the state was defined as being in drought status including some interior areas, such as ours in central west Florida, that reached severe drought status. But significant rain events spread across the state in early June, reducing the area under drought by June 13 to just 12% of the state. Accompanying the welcome rains, there was a flourishing of fungi in our yard and undoubtedly elsewhere, in response to the shift in rainfall regime. Following are photographs of fungi that appeared above ground in our yard in the first half of June 2017.
Pisolithus tinctorius– Several specimens of this bizarre, tough, seemingly woody-stalked species occurred in lawn grass beneath a live oak (Quercus virginiana) tree. This species is distinctive in that spores develop within small capsules (peridioles) within the fruiting body that break down releasing the spores. The lower photograph show clearly the periodioles and the dusty, rough texture of the mature mushroom. This specimen was 12 cm long. In the immature stage, the fruiting body is a squat, roundish structure with a tan-brown rind that encloses a sticky, soft interior (photo on the right, above).
Strobilomyces floccopus– a poroid species covered with soft scales that give the fruiting body a shaggy appearance, This one appeared below a date palm where the ground surface is covered with river stones
Mature Strobilomyces close up.(diameter is 8 cm.)
Phylloporus sp.( prob. P. boletinoides) – a striking mushroom both because of its reddish color and because it is the only genus of boletes to have gills rather than pores. Some members of the genus stain bluish when bruised but this one did not. At least a half-dozen appeared in one area of the yard beneath a laurel oak tree (Q. laurifolia). One of the specimens was significantly larger than the others, reaching 12 cm in cap diameter. Note how the surface layer of the cap has been heavily grazed by unidentified herbivores.
Agaricus sp.- this common genus (more than 100 species in the U.S.) of mostly large, gilled-mushrooms includes some similar, hard-to-identifiy species. But one character of the genus is helpful- gills start out white, shifting to pinkish in color but with maturity become dark, chocolate-brown. The cap remains unchanged, being tannish and smooth in texture.
Amanita sp., the renowned genus that includes some deadly poisonous species. A number of species, like the one(s) photographed here, are white throughout, have a large, loose annulus and a bulbous base that may be concealed by leaf debris. These species are especially common in the southeastern U.S., and I have not attempted to identify the species of the perhaps a dozen individuals that appeared in the yard. Likely these photographed here are among the poisonous species.
Leucocoprinus spp.- this is a genus of very slender fragile species that last only a day or two before being broken or otherwise degraded. I found that it is easy to break the stipes simply by blowing on the cap! There probably are two species represented among the nearly a dozen individuals appearing so far in June.
Polyporus arcularius– three mature and several immature fruiting bodies of this saprophyte appeared on a hardwood branch (maple or oak). Most of the fruiting body is fringed with visible hairs which helps identify the species. The genus includes many larger, long-lived species that are important in the decay of woody material produced in forests.
Stereum sp.- a group of this brightly colored crust or parchment fungus appeared on a long-dead oak branch. There are many species in this family, and identification can be difficult. Their resemblance to the larger shelf fungi is superficial as there are no pores (and tubes) as there are in the polypores. Nor are there gills or teeth in the Stereum family. Spores are produced directly on the fungal surface.
Marasmius sp.- somewhat similar to mushrooms of Leucocoprinus, these very small, delicate fungi are very short-lived (1-3 days) and there are hundreds of species. Some of them, after drying out, will revive when wetted.
Pleurotus ostreatus– the famous, common and edible (but could be misidentified by amateurs so do not eat anything you haven’t verified) oyster mushroom is a wood-inhabiting saprophyte of varying size . The two here were on fallen branch wood but may also occur on standing dead trees.
Coprinus sp– small to tiny in size these short-lived, often clumped species that grow on dead wood. Many of them disintegrate into an inky black mass after fruiting, thus releasing their spores, rather than depending on rain, wind or animals for dispersal.
Russula sp,- a large genus of dry textured mushrooms that are more common in fall (here at least). There are several species with red caps and white stipes found in the southeastern U.S. The genus is distinctive in that as seen here, the skin of the cap can be pealed back to reveal the white interior.