Friday, November 9, 2018

Stubborn Honey Mushrooms

Our area (the Santa Cruz Mountains) often has rain before the end of October, though not this year. We haven't had real precipitation in six months or more now. What we have had is a tiny amount of fog drip. These are not good conditions for mushroom hunting.

Even so, Armillaria mellea is a determined species. The Honey Mushroom connects to oak trees (admittedly it seems to be a pathogen more often than a symbiont), and is ubiquitous in Western Oak forests this time of year. This connection seems to give it access to water that other local mushrooms cannot access. Here they are fruiting in our yard a few days ago!
Notice that the caps are drying out even as they begin spore production. The cap on the right has cracked from desiccation in the unusually dry Fall air, but these still successfully fruited, pushing through the bark of a fallen tanoak log.

The dry caps were bug-free, even though the stems had some insect damage. I rarely see mature Honey Mushrooms without damage to the caps from bugs.

We're looking forward to the start of the main season with the rains, which may not begin until the start of December!

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