Mushrooms growing on logs

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Sulfur tuft  Hypholoma fasciculare

How to Identify it:  Yellow to greenish yellow mushroom growing on logs in clusters.  Gills are yellow to greenish when young, age to gray or purple.

This is a common mushroom forming spreading clusters on fallen logs.  The yellow to greenish color is distinctive and it can be very showy on mossy logs. This mushroom is poisonous so admire its color not its taste.  Like other densely clustered mushrooms you can check the spore color, purple brown, by looking at the top of a cap under another cap.

 

   
Honey Mushroom  Armillaria mellea

How to identify it:  Clusters with light brown cap, gills white, stem with obvious ring and covered with scales. Stem pithy inside.

This fungus forms dense mycelia mats through the forest floor, creating the worlds largest organism. In Oregon a specimen of this fungus covered more than 2,000 acres and was estimated to be more the 2000 years old.  The mushroom spreads from log to log with a black shoestring-like hyphae called a rhizomorph.   It is found on dead wood but also can turn parasitic and attack living trees near the base.  The mycelia glows in the dark!  This mushroom is edible although caution is advised since some people do get a reaction from eating it.  Like other clustered mushrooms you can verify the spore color, white, by examining the caps of the lower mushrooms in the cluster.

 

   
Golden Pholiota  Pholiota aurivella

How to identify it: Yellow to golden growing in tight clusters on logs, cap with scattered scales, stem with scales.

There are six species of Pholita with similiar characteristics, all of them golden in color but varying in scales and type of wood they grow on.  They are slimy when wet, not edible but form lovely golden clusters on dead wood.

   
Scaly Pholiota  
   
Bears Head  Hericium abietis

How to identify it:  Large mass of white to beige coral-like spines, coming off a series of branches, hanging like icicles,  growing on conifers, typically firs.

This distinctive fungus grows in the same place year after year. Its bright white spines are unlike anything else in the woods, and can form a huge mass weighing 50 pounds or more.  It is a choice edible, and one large specimen will provide several meals but like mushrooms, eat only a little at first to see if it agrees with you.

   
Witches Butter   Tremella mesenterica

How to identify it:  Yellow to  orange curlique lobes, slimy to the touch when  wet.

This unique mushroom is distinctive, its odd curls and folds show up on fallen logs and branches after the first rains of fall begin.  It is often at its peak at Halloween, adding bright yellow to orange decoration to the forest floor.  It is a parasite on the mycelia of wood decomposing mushrooms.

   
Jelly Fungi  Guepiniopsis alpinus

How to identify it:  Small, yellow, gumdrop textured funnel shaped, often in clusters on dead branches

This little gumdrop forms bright yellow patches on fallen branches and logs. It has a very broad distribution, ranging from sea level to above 5000 ft in the mountain forests. In the mountains it fruits in the spring, just after the snow melts, in the  lowlands it fruits in the fall.

   
Birds nest fungi  Nidula candida

How to Identify It: Small half inch wide cups on fallen branches on on decaying wood on the ground.  Cups filled with tiny disks.

This odd fungus uses the rain to spread its spores.  When a drop of rain hits the cup just right the tiny spore filled disks splash out, sometimes shooting the "eggs as far as 6 feet away.  The spore disks have a thin, sticky filament which has a heavy knob on the far end. As the "egg" is splashed out of the nest, the thread then attaches the disk to its new surface, the heavy end using centrifugal force to wrap around a branch or twig. 

   
Staghorn fungus  Xylaria  hypoxylon

How to identify it:  Small wiry black fungus with white at the tips. Sometimes the tips branch, sometime they do not.

This small fungus can be found year around, although the white color of the tips are the spores which are found most often in fall.  Another local name for this fungi is dead mans fingers,  and the white fingers are often at their prime during Halloween.