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Mushrooms in the Garden

The Divine is all around us in all its beauty. One of its forms is mushrooms. Most of these small life forms have a shaft and cap, and produce spores to multiply. But some take unusual shapes. The mycelium ( equivalent to root) usually is hidden under bark, ground, rotten wood, or leaves.
Many books have been written about mushrooms, and the mushrooms themselves have an extensive mythology. But I can't go into this. I just want to show you some of the beauty I have captured.
I live in the Northeast USA, in New York state. As I apply wood chips in my garden, mushrooms continuously pop up. I also leave dead wood, branches and the like around. All the pictures on this page have been taken in my garden, with a few just outside the garden but still on our property. It is really amazing how many varieties of mushrooms can grow in such a little space. It is worth while to turn away from the TV and have a look at your own garden and discover what grows beneath your feet. Make sure you also notice the beauty to be found in the 'weeds' too. It's all there, you just have to notice it.

Click on the pictures for a larger version.


Short thick stem and large cap. cap about 20 cm, or 8", wide. White color.
probably Lactarius deceptivus or Deceiving Milkcap. Was under some trees. The mushroom "bleeds" a milky white acrid latex when it is cut or injured. The fruit bodies are edible, but have a bitter taste that can be removed with cooking.
unidentified  unidentified 
Fairy Ink Cap - Coprinus disseminatus

This little Ink Cap occurs in great numbers on dead tree stumps, decomposing and recycling the rotten wood. The caps start off very small, and then develop to slightly bigger than a thimble. When young they are a beige color, but as they age this turns to grey, then black.

Fairy Ink Cap     Fairy Ink Cap
Orange Peel Peziza species

This a cup fungi, that is, they are shaped in the form of a cup. They can be large and fleshy, brown to orange. They are usually bowl-shaped when young but will become flattened and distorted with age. They grow on the ground, in fields, lawns or on roadsides.

Considered edible.

Orange Peel Peziza species     Orange Peel Peziza species

Orange Peel Peziza species     Orange Peel Peziza species

Orange Peel Peziza species

Orange Jelly or Orange Witch's Butter - Dacrymyces palmatus

Fruit bodies are 2-6 cm long by 1-3 cm high, slimy, soft, gelatinous, orange to orange-yellow, spatula-shaped at first but becoming lobed or multi-lobed and convoluted. Common and widespread, it fruits on dead conifer logs and stumps.

Considered edible.

Orange Jelly or Orange Witch's Butter
Earth Ball - Scleroderma citrinum

Some authors call the mushrooms in Scleroderma "earth balls," to emphasize their differences from the fleshier puffballs. Many Scleroderma species have tough outer rinds, and Scleroderma citrinum has a rind that is scaly and hard. When sliced, the rind stains pinkish. Inside, the spore mass is initially white, but soon begins to turn dark purple to purple-black, from the center outwards.


Earth Ball     Earth Ball
The Parrot Mushroom - Hygrocybe psittacina

This is a wax cap. In its early stages of development it is distinctively green and slimy. But it quickly begins to change colors, turning yellow or orange, and then fading to a sort of dingy straw color. By the end of this transformation, the parrot mushroom has become a nondescript little thing, dirty yellowish and very difficult to identify.

Considered edible, but apparently not appetizing because of its slimy appearance.

The Parrot Mushroom     The Parrot Mushroom
Probably Psathyrella species

Identification of the many species of this mushroom is apparently very difficult.

Probably Psathyrella species     Probably Psathyrella species

Probably Psathyrella species

Japanese Umbrella Inky - Coprinus plicatilis

A delicate species that last less then a day. Found singly or in small groups after rain. This attractive Ink Cap fruits in grass beside roads or pathways, sometimes in lawns or on well-rotted wood.

Japanese Umbrella Inky     Japanese Umbrella Inky
Mycena griseoviridis

A small mushroom, with thin white stem. Many species which are difficult to identify.


Mycena griseoviridis
Wine Cap Stropharia

Wine Cap Stropharia Garden Spawn
The Wine Cap (Stropharia rugoso annulata) is a large mushroom native to many parts of Europe and North America. It has a wonderful meaty texture and tastes like a richer Portabella. Great sauteed, baked, or barbecued. This is a very aggressive mushroom in the garden and landscaped environment.



Wine Cap Stropharia     Wine Cap Stropharia

Wine Cap Stropharia

Splash Cups - Cyathus striatus

Splash Cups are a common inhabitant of bark or wood mulch. Although less than a centimeter in diameter, Cyathus striatus often grows in huge clusters, thus making them easily visible, even from some distance. The common name "bird's nest fungus" should be obvious to anyone looking at the small mass of "eggs" within the small "nests" or cups of the fruiting bodies. The "eggs" in the nest contain the basidiospores within them. These "eggs" are actually analogous to tiny puffballs  in that they contain the basidiospores inside of them.

Splash Cups     Splash Cups
Stinky Squid - Pseudocolus fusiformis

I found this one by its smell. I had smelled what I rhought was the rotten carcass of an animal. Then I found this strange shape of something that turned out to be a mushroom. The arms are fused at the top but can come apart. There were many of them frowing in the woodchips. 

The Stinky Squid begins life as an "egg." As this egg absorbs water and expands, the tentacle like fruit body appears. Each tentacle is coated with an olive-green spore mass (gleba) whose odor is quite rank. Rank, that is, to human nostrils. To flies, the odor is irresistible; as the main vectors of spore dispersal, they're attracted to Stinky Squids like flies to, well, feces. Then off flies the fly, unknowingly spreading P. fusiformis spores wherever it lands.

A tropical species, the Stinky Squid was first reported in North America in Pittsburgh in 1915. A few decades later, it appeared in New England

Stinky Squid     Stinky Squid

Stinky Squid

First I thought it might be The Chicken of the Woods - Laetiporus sulphureus species

but it is most likely another species

unknown     unknown


Lenzites betulina

Grows on on the dead wood of hardwoods and, occasionally, conifers.


Lenzites betulina     Lenzites betulina
The following mushrooms I was unable to identify:  
probably Wine Cap Stropharia


probably Wine Cap Stropharia     probably Wine Cap Stropharia

probably Wine Cap Stropharia     probably Wine Cap Stropharia

Cortinarius iodes

This small, about an inch high, mushroom was growing under my blackberry plants. Delicate. With light purplish cap, more saturated purple in the middle. The gill color changes from violet to rusty or grayish brown as the mushroom matures.
Cortinarius iodes
Desarmillaria caespitosa, or Ringless honey mushroom
It was growing under my open garage port, on wood chips. Normally they grow in large clusters at the base of trees.
Desarmillaria caespitosa      Desarmillaria caespitosa
Unidentified Unidentified
Unidentified Unidentified     Unidentified
probably also Wine Cap Stropharia Unidentified

Physarum polycephalum

One day I found a strange bright yellow patch of something in my garden, covering the wood chips of an about one square foot. It is not a mushroom or fungi, although it was once placed under the fungi. The English name is Slime Mold, and is presently classified under Amoebozoa. It lives in shady, cool, moist areas, such as decaying leaves and logs. It is a really strange life form. basically the start out as individual large cells of protoplasm, which join together to form one single entity with many nuclei. The end up forming one big cell about a foot big with millions of nuclei in it. AND it also moves around! A couple of inches a day. It eats fungal spores, bacteria, and other microbes, and thus if found primarily on decomposing matter.  But when the food runs out it starts its reproductive cycle and produces spores, and dries up.


Physarum polycephalum    Physarum polycephalum