I know I’ve been coming thick and fast with the mushroom updates but this weekend I solved a mystery that has been bothering me for a while. There seem to be two major, large, polypore mushrooms that I see attached to tree trunks in my area – the first was identified as the Birth polypore (Fomitopsis betulina) and A Blog Post here. But I would see another type, more flat and with rings of colour and generally larger and encircling the trunk… see below.
This is about 20 cm across (8 or so inches). The underside is also not with simple pores.. it is more maze-like. See below:
My books and exhaustive web search failed to really identify it. Eventually I think I found it. It is the thin walled maze polypore or blushing bracket (Daedaleopsis confragosa)and seems very common in this area.
Here is a large community of them here:
It doesn’t seem to have any very interesting properties. Apparently the flesh is tough and not very edible, but not poisonous, so it’s considered ‘inedible’. Its just surprising that was is a very common fungus in the Middlesex Fells didn’t rate a mention in many books or forums.
Wild mushroom literature is obsessed with a few types of mushroom species – usually for their flavour or medicinal value. When it comes to medicinal, none seems to be more prized than the Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor). This polypore mushroom (think pores, not gills, on the underside) is saprotrophic (grows on dead wood) and extracts have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents.
I haven’t looked at those studies myself and I’m pretty skeptical about claims like this. The excitement for me is not in making a tea and treating some inflammatory issue I might have. The mushrooms themselves apparently aren’t very tasty either. No, I just like the thrill of the case and so this fairly warm weekend I decided to go in-search-of the Turkey Tail mushroom. Long story short, I failed. It’s the dead of winter and maybe not a great time, instead I came across some lookalikes and went about trying to identify them instead.
Exhibit A is below:
To start, this mushroom is not really the right coloring expected of turkey tail – it’s a little too dull. A sample of it dried out pretty quick and turned pretty much grey. The cap was, however, velvety, which apparently is correct. The underside (not shown, sorry 😒) did have a pore like structure and definitely not gills, but the texture was more like fibers or teeth, not pores. This is just not adding up for Turkey Tail but it does seem to match Trichaptum biforme. This fungus has similar ecology to the Turkey Tail, but it’s underside is apparently more tooth like. T. Biforme is also noted to have a purple edge to it but alas this does fade so it’s not surprising it was absent. Another look about elsewhere uncovered this patch below, looking very old and wet and possibly discolored by green algae.
Exhibit B:It’s underside structure was similarly tooth-like. This specimen was also just looking very old and abused by winter.
The purple thing did trigger a memory so I looked through some old photographs I had and low and behold in September or October last year I uncovered a mass of these little guys, complete with subtle purple edging. Look below.
So it seems that Trichaptum biforme is common in the Middlesex Fells and is acting as a major decomposer of dead wood in the area. And it survives into the winter quite well. I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for Turkey Tail once it’s season comes in though.
We recently had some warm weather often extremely frigid conditions between Christmas 2017 and the first week and a half of 2018. Well, it warmed up to about 13 °C / 55 °F on Saturday so I hit up the Middlesex Fells with the dog.
Over Christmas I’ve been reading more and more about fungus and mushrooms and I really wanted to go to a few locations where I had seen mushrooms during the summer and autumn season last year. So the first place I went was a silver birch tree very close to the east side of Bellevue Pond on South Border Rd, Medford, MA, USA. I had seen these really curious white balls on this live tree in early September and at the time I really didn’t know what they were. They certainly looked fungal/mushroomy but I was expecting to see a more typical mushroom shape and was surprised that if this was a mushroom that it could push through the bark. See the images below:
Fast forward to now and after significant snow melt, the same tree looks like this:
Cool, they did turn into a more typical ‘mushroom’ shape. After some web searches and reference mushroom books I identified this mushroom as the birch polypore (Fomitopsis betulina). One of the lobes/caps had fallen off and was on the ground nearby so I picked it up and flipped it over.
You can see the underside doesn’t have gills but pores. The margin (edge) of the cap rolls over and under the underside, exactly matching the birch polypore description. (I took this sample home!) Below is a closeup on the cap that formed at the bottom of the tree – it was still attached.
It turns out this mushroom is edible but doesn’t taste very good. I didn’t eat this one. It contains a number of compounds that are suppose to be good at killing some intestinal worms and has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Well, research continues.
Another fungus I encountered was as an odd looking jelly-like mushroom. See below:
I wasn’t even sure this thing was a fungus. Some research showed that, yeap it is! And a well known fungus that comes out this time on year (deep winter). Its the amber jelly roll or willow rain (Exidia recisa). Apparently it is edible but does not have an interesting taste, nor is it fowl or bitter.
I have many more photos from last Summer and I may get into some more identifications of those as well. It is amazing how many different kinds of mushrooms are out there, even in the dead of winter.
Some time ago I blogged here about the absurdity of the infinite sum 1+2+3+4… = -1/12. I did a partial analysis here but I never really completed my thoughts. I’m lazy.
Anyway I noticed today a great explanation by Mathologer on youtube. I wont explain here his logic but it closely matches what I was thinking at the time. Go see his video. Basically the idea that the infinite series 1-1+1-1+1-1… is a number at all is simply wrong. So using it to determine the sum 1+2+3+4… is wrong. As I said at the time, maths getting derailed.
What is curious is how we can use numbers and operations on numbers to construct something that is not a number. There is no problem with this. Most agree that 1/0 is not a number. Some would argue the ‘number’ is infinity. OK.. but does 1/0 + 1/0 = 2 x infinity? No. Regular numeric operators (+, -, *, /) don’t apply. So if you sum s = 1-1+1-1+1… doesn’t equal a number, you can’t expect adding and subtracting other infinite series from it makes sense.