Toothed fungi, part 2

From an email from Jocie to the Botany Group on December 7.

Here is Alison’s 2nd instalment of the toothed fungi. [See this post for the first instalment.]

Alison’s notes

[Click a photo to enlarge it.]

Next on the list is in the Sarcodon genus, the dark brown cap with scales  of Sarcodon imbricatus looking not unlike an aging Hydnellum aurantiacum. The photos #1 & 2, showing cap and underside, were taken by Jocie in the Merville Woods at Williams Beach Road. It can also be found up in the Park (e.g. Divers Lake area). There is another similar species found locally – S. scabrosus distinguished  by darker underside and dark bluish coloration at the base of the stipe. A third species – Sarcodon fuscoindicus – is a stunning purple/dark blue, which could have been included in the “Blues and Greens” note. I found it in 2016 in the forest at Nymph Falls, but at the moment my photo is MIA, so here is a link to an image by Michael Beug in E-Flora.

Another toothed fungus that has sometimes been confused with the hydnella is the Phellodon genus which is common in the valley and up to the subalpine. Photo #3 from the Comox Lake Bluffs Ecological Reserve is Phellodon tomentosuswhich has a beige to brown centre and off-white margin on the cap, and beige on the underside. Phellodon atratus is also found here – with a dark centre and lighter margins on the cap and greyish/purplish teeth on the underside.  

Phellodon tomentosus

A quite different fungus in the tooth category is Hericium abietis (commonly known as bear’s head). It is usually found on dead conifer trunks, sometimes still standing, more often horizontal (photo #4). Its species name suggests that it is specific to true firs (Abies genus) but it can also be found on Douglas Fir – as in the photo. The cross-section on my kitchen table (photo #5) shows the spiny “teeth” more clearly – it is a choice edible (sautéed to a crisp and mixed into a garlicy hummus is my favourite.). 

One of the most intriguing fungi in the forest falls into this category, namely Auriscalpium vulgare or earpick fungus (photos #6 & 7).  Far from “common” (= vulgare) in its appearance, this tiny (5 cm high / 2 cm across the cap) fungus is often hard to find in the late fall, growing on its fir-cone on the forest floor – it blends in perfectly with the browns of dead leaves and fallen cones.

Finally a PS on the weather. It has been so mild this fall, apart from one short spell of sub-zero temps, that many shrooms are continuing to appear.   There has been a second flush of large Lobsters on our property and on December 2nd I picked some rather large, perfect chanterelles  – 15 cm in length and 12 across the cap.  This is the latest I have ever picked chanterelles in good condition, not softened by frost. This Fall has produced bumper crops of chanterelles, hedgehogs and many other species edible and otherwise. After three seasons where conditions were far from ideal (long hot summers lasting into October), this year has been optimal in terms of temperature and moisture at the right times. Fungi are highly sensitive to their environment!!!  It is a pity that this year we have not been able to conduct fungus ID sessions in the field and forest – photos are a poor second best.  Next year we hope….

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