Thursday, February 11, 2010

In Praise of Rotting Things

"Honey, you wanna see the new fungus picture?"

"Not while I'm eating lunch."

Such is the average view of rot and decay. To be fair to my awesome husband (who not only indulges but actively encourages my whims), a fair number of my photographs probably aren't appropriate for mealtime viewing. (A cheery little image of a glistening wasp larva being carried off by ants springs to mind.)

But this one was different.

Two years ago, we reluctantly cut down a pecan tree that was threatening to topple over and block the driveway. The pieces were pretty much left where they fell. Since then, we've had a wonderful array of bracket fungus take up residence on the old trunk. This is one of the most striking and dramatic.

I believe it is the Turkey Tail fungus (Trametes versicolor). There is also the possibility that it's the very similar-looking Stereum ostrea, a.k.a. the False Turkey Tail. Tom Volk's excellent website tells me that you can tell the difference by looking at the pore-bearing underside. Since we're getting quite a snowfall right this minute, investigating fungal private parts will just have to wait.

These fungi are very attractive. Hard and leathery, rather than slimy, they range up and down the trunks of dead (or sometimes not-quite-dead) trees. They array themselves in an assortment of colors: brown, reddish, orange, cream. Some of them become colonized by algae and display a distinct green color. They may form dense colonies, like the picture above, or enjoy a little space of their own, like this one.

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous! I love the colors and the pattern. I saw fungi very similar to these a week or so ago, while walking in the woods. Now I know what kind of fungi I probably saw.

    Fungi are really amazing - I attended a presentation by a mycologist last year, and was surprised at how much I learned and how NOT boring it was.