Notes and photos by Alison M. distributed to the Botany Group on November 7.
After the extremely hot dry summer, many of our favourite fungi have been noteworthy by their almost total absence. In Strathcona Provincial Park, both in the Buttle area and up on the Plateau, there have been none of the brightly coloured Cortinarii, nor the Hydnella (e.g. H. peckii – strawberries & cream) and very few amanitas. With the recent heavy rains there are more mushrooms appearing, but for some the optimal period is over for the year, as the temperatures dip and frost and snow start to cover the subalpine.
Here are a few more mega polypores (adding to Jocie’s list in Spectacular polypores) from trails in the Park, as well as a couple of massive bear’s heads. [Click a photo to enlarge it.]
- Conifer-base polypore (Heterobasidion occidentale – formerly annosum). This huge polypore was at the base of a dead conifer on the steep flanks of Mt Elma. It differs from the red-belted conk (Fomitopsis mounceae) by being much more bumpy on the upper surface, less regular in outline, often lacking the red/orange band and is found only at the base of dead trees. In spite of its former species name, it can be perennial, as the one in the photo.
- Bondarzew’s polypore (Bondarzewia mesenterica – formerly occidentale) on the Elk River trail. (Compare the specimen in Jocie’s photos #8 and #9 in the Spectacular polypores post.) This one measured almost 15 inches across (handle of hiking pole is about 5 inches). It was aging, and the underside could not be photographed in its entirety. The photo of a broken piece shows how the irregular pores become jagged ( almost tooth-like) with age.
- Conifer sulfur shelf (Laetiporus conifericola) – another huge aging polypore that has lost its brilliant orange and yellow colour. There were many examples on the Elk River trail of even older specimens which become dull white, and will last over the winter . Broken pieces can be scattered around the original location as a result of critter activity. The second photo shows the bright yellow/orange colour of a younger specimen, from the flanks of Mt. Brooks above Helen Mackenzie Lake.
- Greening goat’s foot (Albatrellus ellisii). A largish (6-10 inches wide) ugly specimen that looks like a bolete, but has an irregular-shaped cap, cracked surface, very thick stipe, thick flesh and decurrent wide pores. It stains a blue-green colour when broken, as do some of the boletes, but is overall very tough.
- Bear’s heads (Hericium abietis). This fall we have seen several large specimens 20-30 feet up conifers. Here are two dead conifers just off the Elk River Trail. The fruiting bodies of the fungus would be 12-15 inches in diameter and at that height definitely squirrel food. I include two photos from a downed trunk in the Divers Lake area for a closer view.