This was my first hike in three weeks! The weather has been very nice considering it’s December. Sunday was very overcast and misty, but that’s perfect for winter mushroom fruiting.
The Oyster Mushroom is easy to spot. They really contrast against the tree trunks and are up off the ground, sometimes right at eye level.
This one twisted as it grew making a great pattern.
I did see a few other mushrooms and fungi. It always amazes me, if I step off the trail and stand still for a moment, I almost always find something. These little brown mushrooms are almost invisible in oak leaf litter.
I walked about 6 miles at a fairly quick pace, so I’m sure I passed up many interesting things. I did linger at the creek crossing, where I saw raccoon, skunk and beaver tracks. This is a perfect, fresh raccoon print.
Coming out of the creek bed, I saw some mistletoe on the ground. I must say this is the first time I’ve looked at the berries. Birds eat these berries and spread the mistletoe seed to other trees.
I wish I had taken a photo of the back of my jacket, it was covered in little stickseeds. They aren’t painful, as far as stickers go, but they are abundant and I spent quite a bit of time pulling them all off. Here is a photo of a partial seed head, which I usually don’t see intact.
These little orange Fan-shaped jelly fungus are so bright! Even though they are tiny, they are easy to spot on the move.
I hear it’s edible and that Chinese culture uses it in a dish called “Buddha’s Delight”. It would take a lot of picking to make much.
On the way back through the woods, I spied a tiny spot of blue. I stopped to see what could possibly make that color since everything else was brown. I was surprised to find two snails tangled in reproduction! I know nothing about snails, so I researched it when I got home and only got more confused. Anyway… The one fact I learned is that reproduction methods in Gastropods vary greatly. So, as for our lovers below: Terrestrial snails are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female reproductive organs. During mating the snails simultaneously exchange sperm, externally. They will both grow fertilized eggs internally, and lay them in nest holes in the ground. So there you have it, vaguely.
Back to the Oyster mushrooms! Here’s one just getting started growing.
Different stages of growth. They are really pretty.
I found a few more little brown mushrooms, probably in the Laccaria family. I love the texture, color and ruffled edges of this mushroom!
And back to the Oyster mushroom! This was a huge grouping. The host tree had multiple large flushes of mushrooms all up and down its trunk. I couldn’t get far enough away with my lens to get them all in one photo without changing the lens (and it was misting).
Here’s the underside of this group.
Several of these came home with me! They will be sautéed in butter soon.