One of the things I’ve had to get used to round here is the stuff growing on trees. People told me as a kid that you could find north by looking at what side of the tree moss was growing on. This assumed the person attempting to ascertain north wasn’t living in Arizona. I spent a long time trying to find some moss in order to establish the truth of this claim.
Then I moved here to the PNW. Good luck establishing north by moss. It grows 360° around the trunks. It grows pretty much everywhere. And then you get these enormous patches of lichen and wild outbursts of wood mushrooms. It’s a wonder you can see bark.
Quite decorative, isn’t it just? But that one isn’t what caught my eye when I was tromping along North Creek on a recent winter day.
How lovely is that? Certainly click to embiggen. You fungi and lichen lovers should be screaming with joy about now. Here, have a closer look.
I love the colors. You have the blue-green lichen, the darker-green whatever-that-is that looks almost like it’s frosted with silver, and then these richly-hued mushrooms that remind me of the finest folded strata. Outstanding. And to think this stuff grows along North Creek. I hadn’t noticed before, but these lovely specimens were certainly attached to tame trees. This isn’t wilderness – this is an offshoot of the creek plunked down between office buildings and the wastewater treatment plant. I’m not sure if these had been growing on the trees before the branches came down – I couldn’t see any, but I didn’t look very long. These branches look fairly fresh, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the fungi hadn’t waited for them to fall.
I’m a fan of fan-shaped fungi. These are very decorative. Most of our wood mushrooms are of the big-and-pale variety, interesting mostly for their size and locations, sometimes for the patterns they’re growing in. They’re usually not this colorful.
They rather make these fallen branches look like they’re all decked out to go flamenco dancing.
Carl Zimmer says these are only the tip of the fungiberg. DNA studies have shown that fallen logs are colonized by a great number, many of them invisible to our eyes. And without them, we’d be buried in dead logs.
I’ve also heard they’re edible, but I’m not sure how to tell the yummy from the disastrous. Besides, these are too pretty to eat. Unless it turns out they’re delicious, nutritious and don’t taste just like chicken, in which case I’ll be nomming them next time. What say you, my darlings? Which species of wood mushroom are these?