Monday, November 9, 2009

Nandina? Way Out Here with the Mushrooms?

Early last Sunday morning Christopher Fritel, Patty Collier and I set out to take part in one of the many CAMN activities and, in my opinion one of the most fun and that is Invasive Specie Removal. It may not sound like fun to you, but being out on pristine protected land where natural wonders appear at every turn, is my cuppa-cuppa...essentially I feel like a kid all over, exploring the woods only this time with a real mission. Christopher is our guide. He has attended all of the training classes and has the GPS to track and record our findings, and he knows the combination to the locks making him also, the proverbial gate keeper.

Christopher and Patty leading the way.
You must have permission to be on the land, and you want to make sure you do that because on other tracks of the Balconies Canyon land Preserve (BCP) this weekend they were wild hog hunting.
Small Palafoxia (Palafoxia callosa) In bloom alongside the road was glowing in the morning light.
Corn on the ground just inside the hog pens.

You can see the tracks in the soft mud leading into the trap. They disperse the corn all around and the trip lines are actually quite a distance from the gate so that when it's triggered, the hogs can't get out before the door shuts. We found tracks throughout the morning that were fresh, but didn't see or hear them...or the hunters for that matter.
We hiked in about 20 minutes before finding the plot of land that Christopher has been clearing for some time now.
He's showing me here where we are, and half way across the map, where we were going to Track AA.
The forest floor was cover in moss and flowers, the sunlight playing on the insects made it seem like a faerie world.
Mushrooms and various fungi were everywhere. I searched for a name for this beauty and was getting frustrated until the same name kept popping up: Tom Volk, a mycologist and professor from Wisconsin. It seems that mushroom identification is one of the most difficult endeavors...considering there are over 70,000 species and more are being discovered all the time. What I wanted to know though, he had neatly written in a list of 10. Here are the 10 edible mushrooms...according to Dr. Volk:

Morchella esculenta ("morel") -- This unusual pitted grayish to yellow mushroom is many people's favorite collectable edible. It is one of the harbingers of spring and is usually found in May to very early June. A good place to look for them is near dead or dying elms.
Grifola frondosa ("hen of the woods") -- This delicious edible typically grows at the bases of oak trees where it forms large clumps resembling the many-layered feathers of a hen. The ``feathers'' are usually grayish-brown with white pores underneath.
Agaricus campestris* ("meadow mushroom") -- This is a wild relative of the common white mushroom found in stores. It can be recognized by its ring and its free gills which are pink when young darkening to chocolate brown in age. It is a firm, meaty mushroom with a white to brown, smooth to fibrillose cap. Typically, it grows in grass and the large smooth caps can often be seen poking out of the ground in yards or along curbs.
Cantharellus cibarius* ("chanterelle") -- This is a golden-colored mushroom with a flat to sunken cap and blunt ridges rather than gills running down the stalk. The odor is distinctive and mellow fruity, somewhat similar to apricots. Chanterelles frequently start to fruit in July.
Coprinus comatus* ("shaggy mane") -- This is one of the distinctive ``inky-cap'' mushrooms whose gills and flesh darken and dissolve into an inky-black mess. Before this happens, though, it is a beautiful white mushroom with shaggy upturned scales. It is commonly found in grassy areas in the fall.
Pleurotus ostreatus* ("oyster mushroom") This is a large, fan-shaped, moist, whitish to tan mushroom with little or no stalk. The widely-spaced gills jutting straight out from high up on a tree trunk often make this mushroom a beautiful spectacle.
Hydnum repandum* ("sweet tooth") -- This is a firm, compact tooth fungus with a buff to orange cap that is often flat-topped and with paler white to yellowish teeth.
Hericium coralloides* ("bear's head tooth") -- This is also a tooth fungus, but does not have the usual stem-cap form. Rather its teeth hang from a cluster of white fleshy branches. It grows on decaying wood.
Leccinum insigne/aurantiacum *("scaber stalk") -- These are pored, bolete-type mushrooms with orange-brown to reddish-brown caps and dark projections or scabers on the stem. They are usually associated with aspen or birch trees and are quite common. A related species which is also edible is the light gray-brown-capped L. scabrum.
Flammulina velutipes* ("velvet foot" or "velvet stem") -- This is a small firm mushroom that grows in clumps on wood. It is noted for its sticky reddish-yellow cap and dark-brown velvety stem and for the fact that it often can be collected even in cold weather when there are no other edible mushrooms around.
Now to find images and learn them...and hunt them...and find them...and eat them! I love mushrooms!
This may be hard to see, but if you look closely the barbed wire is stretching some 12-18 feet up through the tree. It must have been a sapling when the fence was first erected.
I've had a hard time trying to identify this fungus, what I've learned is that it's a shelf-fungi and that fungi grow in a range of organic material - soil, live trees, dead trees, and scat. The fungi that grow in coniferous trees differ from those growing in deciduous trees. Saprotrophic fungi feed on dead organic matter. Parasitic fungi feed on living organisms and I can't remember if I even looked up when I took this picture. There was so much more going on down below and this was only about a foot from the ground.
This is a fungi growing out of a nurse log. That's just a dead log or a wound in a tree where decay has started and some fungi have taken advantage of the location.
I had some of these pop up in my garden after applying mulch this fall, I love to catch the sunlight through the gills.
Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) which is a bracket fungi which is another name for fungi that grow off of a tree or log. The portion you see of this type of fungi is like the "flower" while most of the tissue, or tail extends into the host. Turkey Tails grow from May to December and can last several years. They are also known to grow from wounds in trees, mostly oaks.

This bumpy dry...mushroom? Was growing out of the rock in the road.
Well...Patty and Christopher found 5 Nandina domestica and 3 Pyracantha coccinea...I managed to walk away with some cool photos of mushrooms and some rusty stuff that may find its way into some yard art soon. It's amazing to me that stores like Home Depot and Lowe's are allowed to sell plants that are taking the resources from the land, creating a dense growth the sun cannot penetrate, crowding out natives while altering habitats.
It was shocking to find so many Nandina thriving on the forest floor. I have two area's in my yard that I still need to remove, but until I plan out the removal and replacement I cut off the berries and throw them in the trash. They are a beautiful plant, especially now when the new growth creates a soft burnt orange umbrella above the rest of the plant and the red berries are very cheerful. I used to cut them and display them they just look evil.
Christopher is super dedicated, as is Patty but we took the rest of the day off. After lunch Christopher got with two other volunteers and went out again. When I see baby Nandina anywhere, I do a double take and yank it out...the problem with that is that no-one knows about it, therefore funds for such projects as Specie Removal don't get the benefit...and the biologists don't have true accuracy with citizen volunteers collecting data. There in lies the dilemma, to yank or not to yank? What do you think?
Happy Gardening


Bob said...

Not only does no one know but very few even care. It's a shame but true. I've seen nandina growing on the hills around Jonestown and Lago Vista in large clumps of plants. It grows in the shade of the large mature cedars much like the understory plants that should be there.

But to your question, if anyone knows about the problem, they would probably be able to identify the plants correctly and pull them.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

On the question of to yank or not to yank, I'd ask the people in charge of the project which they'd prefer. I'd probably just yank...although with nandina that's not easy to do. I'm slowly getting rid of mine but they come back more vigorous for all my effort. Like you I cut off the berries before they ripen to help prevent their spread outside my yard.

Sue said...

There seems to be more awareness now about invasives, but the city still has a lot of catching up to do. Barton Springs landscaping still includes quite a bit of nandina and Ligustrum, but it's drought-tolerant so they don't want to remove it. Despite the fact that it is taking over the green belt... Blech.