Spotty, squishy, and sweaty mushrooms of the field

We may go out in the field to study birds, but that doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to all the other strange and interesting life on the mountain. This year I particularly noticed the mushrooms after I encountered a fantastically cool species called, appropriately, the Alpine Jelly Cone or Poor Man’s Gumdrop.

2013_mushroom_squishy2These guys are small and conical, attached to dead wood just at their tip. They came out in force at one of our sites early in the season among lingering patches of old snow. I like their color and geometric neatness of shape, but the best thing about them is—unfortunately—not conveyable by photograph: they are squishy. Like jello, but not at all sticky, just dry and weirdly, wonderfully squishy.

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2013_mushroom_squishy3I haven’t identified the other mushrooms and fungus that we saw yet, because frankly, after the squishy mushrooms my standards are raised too high to bothered with regular non-squishy mushrooms. Some of them still look cool though.

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One kind of tree fungus seemed to ooze liquid. This wasn’t dew, although—I checked—it was about the same viscosity as water. Nothing else around the fungus was wet. So… fungus sweat.2013_mushroom_sweatingThis fungus looked like shaving cream, and was not about to be stopped by the pinecone that stood in its way:

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They weren’t all weird. These ones were straight out of a child’s picture book:

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8 thoughts on “Spotty, squishy, and sweaty mushrooms of the field

  1. I hope all your mycologist friends write in with names for the rest of the mushrooms, and let us know which you can eat next summer!

    • I know there are edible mushrooms in the area – one campground host told us that some people come just to harvest them – but I don’t know that I’d ever trust my amateur mushrooming skills enough to eat something I found.

  2. The white ovoid fungus just below the last of the jelly cones is a globe fungus (Cryptoporus volvatus). The very last fungus pictured I think is a fly amanita (Aminita muscaria). But the jelly cones are wonderful …….

  3. Michael is indeed correct on the identification of Amanita muscaria. They’re pretty distinctive, ut if you want to be sure, bring a spoon and dig up the base of one. You should find that the entire bottom has a kind of thin sac around it. This bulbous structure is the remains of the universal veil, which can also be seen as the white spots on top! Universal veils are pretty much exclusive to Amanitas, and this particular guy is known for it’s “magic mushroom” abilities. Pictures 5, 8, and 9 are all the same thing.

    Good job identifying the poor man’s gumdrops! Jellies are always fun to key out =) They are reported by numerous mycophages to be edible and I plan to have some tonight to see how I handle them simply because they’re so distinctive (and I love jellies – they’re cool.)

    Thanks for sharing your photos!

    • Thanks for the info! I knew photos 8 and 9 were the same but am surprised that #5 is too – it’s so much more colorful. Interesting.

      I’m thrilled at the idea that the Poor Man’s Gumdrops are edible – they look so much like candy. I hope they prove delicious. (Or at least, not too harmful!)

  4. Pingback: the gumdrop tree + gumdrops are fabulous - This Picture Book Life

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