Mushrooms & Other Fungi

PLEASE NOTE: No plants may be removed from High Park. See Park Rules.

The following Q&As are adapted from an interview of Richard Aaron conducted by staff of the High Park Nature Centre, where Richard offered a workshop in Fall 2012. Reproduced with permission. Special thanks to Richard Aaron and Katarina Marjan.

Agaricus sp.
Katarina Marjan

Why do you love mushrooms?

There is a certain air of mystery about mushrooms. They can pop up overnight and are found in a surprising variety of places such as on trees, leaves, twigs, dung, animal hooves, etc. Some mushrooms even form partnerships with plant roots. Plus mushrooms come in a bewildering variety of colours, shapes, and sizes. Some even smell like cucumber, radish, curry, anise, watermelon rind, shellfish, maraschino cherry, and a range of other odours. All these things make mushrooms very intriguing to me.

What are some of the amazing fall mushrooms that you have seen in High Park?

Amanita virosa - Destroying Angel
Bob Yukich

High Park has many interesting species of fungi, including corals, birds nests, earthstars, polypores, and giant puffballs. But perhaps my most amazing find in High Park was the Netted Stinkhorn (Dictyophora duplicata) I found more than a decade ago. Not only does it have a unique shape, but it has a really awful odour that flies are attracted to. The flies inadvertently help to spread the spores.

Can you describe the funkiest mushroom you have ever seen?

I’ve seen many remarkable mushrooms and other fungi over the years, but certainly the fungus I saw growing out of a dead cicada would be in my top five. Other top contenders would be several species that glow in the dark, and another that packs its spores into balls and shoots them out like a cannon.

Know any good mushroom jokes?

Puffball sp. (with nickel on top)
Bob Yukich

“How many mushrooms does it take to change a light bulb?”

“Zero! They like to grow in the dark.”

See also:

List of Species found at Mushrooms and Other Fungi Workshop, Oct. 14, 2012

Mycological Society of Toronto

Richard Aaron's Fungi Workshop, The Star, Sept. 29, 2013

Photo Gallery

Grifola frondosa - Hen of the Woods
Katarina Marjan
Laetiporus sulphureus - Chicken of the Woods
Katarina Marjan
Ganoderma applanatum - Artist's Conk
Katarina Marjan
Ischnoderma resinosum - Resinous Polypore
Katarina Marjan
Entoloma sp.
Katarina Marjan
Trametes versicolor - Turkey Tail
Katarina Marjan
Pholiota sp. (possibly P. aurivella)
Katarina Marjan
Cantharellus cinnabarinus - Cinnabar Chantarelle
Katarina Marjan
Daldinia concentrica - Carbon Balls
Katarina Marjan
Gyrodon merulioides - Ash Tree Bolete
Katarina Marjan
Crucibulum laeve - Bird's Nest Fungus
Kami Valkova

"Kami, our Nature Club Coordinator found this tiny fungus Crucibulum laeve, Bird's Nest Fungus. Those 'eggs' are tiny capsules called peridioles filled with spores. A falling raindrop splashes the peridioles through the air. Once they land on nearby vegetation they may release their spores in the air or be accidentally eaten by grazing herbivores who can transport the spores via their stomachs to a new place. Another totally appropriate name for this type of fungus is 'splash cups'."

High Park Nature Centre newsletter, Aug. 30, 2018

Pigskin Poison Puffball The Pigskin Poison Puffball (or Common Earthball) is a mycorrhizal fungi, meaning it has a symbiotic relationship with the trees in the forest. The fungi connects with the roots of the trees and exchanges water and minerals in return for carbohydrates. Both the tree and the fungi benefit from this relationship.

This fungi has quite the name, so let’s break it down! The “Pigskin” refers to the fungus’ outer surface, which is yellow-brown and has a scaly texture reminiscent of a football (American style, often called a “pigskin”). As for “Poison”, there have been some conflicting reports about whether or not this fungus is truly poisonous. However, it is generally regarded as inedible, largely due to the toxins it contains.

So what about the word “Puffball”? well, once the fungi reaches maturity, the skin of the fruit body will rupture leaving a large and odd shaped opening. From this opening, the spores inside (which have a dusty consistency) can be dispersed by the rain, the wind, or by a group of kids with the High Park Nature Centre, who are excited to see the small and dark puffs of spores shoot out of the fungi.

Source: High Park Nature Centre blog August 13, 2019. Article by Haya Aldoori.

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Content last modified on August 16, 2019, at 12:58 PM EST