The Mycota, or the Fungi, are usually conisidered to be a separate taxonomic Kingdom from either plants or animals.
A sampling of toadstools from Southern Ontario are described in the table below.
Eyelash Cup - Pézize en bouclier -
Scutellinia scutellata (L.) Lambotte:
Eyelash cup fungi are ascomycetes in the Pyronemataceae family.
The fruiting bodies are small disc shaped apothecia, usually less than a centimetre wide.
These discs can occur in fairly large clusters.
These are often orange or bright red, with an oily spore bearing surface.
These cups are rimmed by small dark hair-like fibres –the so-called ‘eyelashes’.
It is possible that insects are somehow recruited to carry the spores.
The mycelia of this fungus grow usually in rotting wood, dung or other rich biotic matter.
Its fruiting bodies often accompany mosses, slime moulds and other cryptogams.
White Coral Fungus - Ramaire de Kunz - Ramariopsis kunzei (Fr.) Corner :
The white coral fungus is in the Clavariaceae family.
They are basidiomycetes, even though they resemble some of the ascomycetes in form.
This toadstool is branched, coral-like, and only a few centimetres tall.
It occurs in troops on forest duff, or on very decayed wood
It tends to be associated with forest clearings and even with grassy areas.
Apparently it is a saprobic fungus.
The white coral fungus is without 'gills', the spores develop near its branch tips.
It fruits in the typical toadstool window from summer to late autumn.
It is considered to be edible, but the small toadstools are not considered very flavourful.
Scaly Inky Caps - Coprin écailleux - Coprinus quadrifidus Pk.:
The true ink-caps, or inky caps, are members of the Agaricaceae family.
The shaggy mane (C. comatus) is the most well known species, because it often appears on lawns.
The Latin, and French, genus names imply that the toadstools grow on dung.
But most species grow in rich humus.
The scaly or variegated inky cap grows in clusters on hardwood debris in forests.
The gills are enclosed in a bell-shaped cap.
The caps deliquesce to release their spores.
The black 'inky' dissolving caps accounts for their English name - ‘inky caps’.
These oblong toadstools appear mostly in the summer.
They are mildly poisonous, especially if eaten with alcohol.
But they can be eaten, if cooked very thoroughly.
Trooping Crumble Caps - Coprin disséminé - Coprinellus disseminatus (Pers.) J.E. Lange:
Trooping crumble caps are gilled toadstools in the Psathyrellaceae family.
These toadstools occur usually in large ‘troops’ on rotten stumps and logs.
The toadstools appear from the late spring until the autumn.
The fungus grows in both exposed rotten wood and in slightly buried wood.
The toadstool’s cap is beige, and only about 1 to 2 cm wide.
The caps are deeply grooved on the upper side.
Though distant relatives of the ink-caps, the fungus has lately been assigned to a separate family and genus.
The gills are non-deliquescent - unlike the true ink-caps of the genus Coprinus.
The toadstool is considered to be edible.
But it is seldom harvested, due to its small size.
Blewit – Tricholome pied bleu -
Clitocybe nuda (Bull. Fr.) H.E. Bigelow:
Blewits are gilled mushrooms in the Tricholomataceae family.
They have violet to lavender coloured gills, caps and stems.
Blewits commonly grow under spruce trees in the needle duff.
Blewits are widespread in both Eurasia and in North America.
They have apparently become naturalised in Australia.
They are one of the most visually striking of the temperate toadstools.
The large caps, 5 to 15 cm wide, usually appear in the late autumn.
Blewits have a pleasant fruity smell, but a somewhat acrid taste.
The blewit is an esteemed edible ‘mushroom’.
It can be commercially cultivated in wood chips or leaf mulch.
Elm-Oyster - Chapeau marbré -
Hypsizygus ulmarius (Bull.:Fr.) Redhead:
Elm-oysters, or marble-caps, are gilled mushrooms in the Tricholomataceae family.
The pale caps of the elm-oyster can become quite large, over 15 cm wide.
Elm-oyster grows in dead heartwood, most often on elm or Manitoba maple.
These caps can sprout quite high in a tree, often they extend from knotholes.
The fruiting bodies typically appear in the late autumn.
The caps can even persist up until the first frost.
A similar species, the H. tessulatus, was for a long time thought to be the same species.
This other species has darker caps and it usually does not infect Manitoba maple.
Both kinds of elm-oyster are edible.
Some people use a knife on a pole to remove them from the taller trees.
Bark Mycena - Mycéne claviculé - Mycena clavularis (Batsch) Sacc.:
The bark mycena is a member of the Tricholomataceae family.
The fungus grows on the bark of hardwood trees. The gills in the tiny caps are widely spaced.
The pale caps are usually less than 3 mm wide.
Troops of these toadstools may appear after rainy weather, most often in the autumn.
There are many species of mycena, most of these are saprobes.
The bark mycena is notable for its minute caps, and for the fact that it grows on the bark of living trees.
Most mycenas grow near the ground in rotting organic matter.
Mycenas in general are edible.
Though, most are so small that they are not collected.
Fly Agaric - Amanite tue-mouche -
Amanita muscaria var. guessowii Vesely:
Amanitas are gilled toadstools in the Amanitaceae family.
The fly agaric usually has yellow caps, in the Americas.
The Eurasian subspecies tend to be more reddish.
The caps are often covered by pale flecks of the veil that adhere to it.
It fruits from the summer into the late autumn.
The fly agaric is mychorrhizal, mostly on the roots of conifers.
It is both poisonous and hallucinogenic.
The North American subspecies are generally less hallucinogenic than the Eurasian versions.
A poultice made from the fly agaric really can kill house-flies.
Most species of amanita are poisonous to some degree.
White Pine Bolete - Bolet américain -
Suillus americanus (Peck) Snell:
White pine boletes, or chicken fat mushrooms, are members of the Suillaceae family.
The cap has pores, instead of ‘gills’, on its underside.
These pores are more oblong than those of true boletes.
The cap, the pore surface and the stock are all yellowish in colour.
These caps can grow to over one decimetre wide.
This mycorrhizal species grows under white pine, and close relatives of the white pine.
It is closely related to the S. sibricus of northern Asia.
Fruiting bodies are visible from the summer into the autumn.
In mixed forests and pine plantations, this ‘bolete’ can occur in very large numbers.
It is an esteemed edible mushroom.
Destructive Pholiota – Pholiote destructrice - Hemipholiota populnea (Pers. : Fr.):
The pholiotas and hemipholiotas are ‘gilled’ toadstools in the Strophariaceae family.
The caps are cinnamon coloured, with ‘scales’.
The toadstool grows in clusters, usually low on a tree's root-crown or on a stump.
These caps can appear from July into the late autumn.
Most pholiota species are saprobic, but a few are parasitic on live-wood.
The wood decay is considered to be a kind of ‘white rot’.
Most pholiotas are at least mildly poisonous.
Common Earthball - Scléroderme vulgaire - Scleroderma citrinum Pers.:
Earthball is a kind of ‘false puffball’ with a scaly derma.
This basidiomycete is a member of the Sclerodermataceae family.
Earthball often has a distinct yellowish tinge, on its outer surface.
The earthball manifests its fruiting-bodies mostly from the late summer into the autumn.
This saprobe grows on mossy or peaty area, usually in woods with sandy soils.
The derma breaks open irregularly to release the dark purple-black spores.
The spore mass is less powdery than those of regular puffballs.
Unlike most other puffballs, the common earthball is generally considered to be poisonous.
Oyster Mushroom - Pleurote en forme d’huître - Pleurotus ostreatus (Jacq.) Quél.:
Oyster mushrooms are gilled toadstools in the Pleurotaceae family.
These fungi feed mostly on rotting wood, where they form off centre toadstools or ‘brackets’.
These pale gilled brackets appear mostly in the late autumn.
The fungus is actually ‘carnivorous’ - after a fashion.
It can paralyse nematodes with the droplets of trans-2-decenedioic acid that it exudes from its mycelia.
It then feeds on these eelworms by insinuating its hyphae into the worm's apertures.
This dietary supplement probably helps the fungus obtain extra nitrogen.
The fungus is an esteemed edible ‘mushroom’. It is now being commercially cultivated.
Northern Shelving Tooth - l'Hydne septentrional - Climacodon septentrionale (Fr.) Karsten:
The northern shelving fungus, or northern tooth fungus, is a soft bracket or conk in the Meruliaceae family.
It is in the same family as the Phlebia species, the jelly-rot and jelly-crust fungi.
These conks can be quite large, up to several decimetres wide.
Massive clusters of these fruiting bodies can occur on tree trunks and on large branches.
These fruiting bodies are soft, and they are pale cream-white to light brown in colour.
They darken and turn reddish with age.
The spores are borne on pointed soft cones - the so-called “teeth”.
Its spore surface resembles somewhat those of the bear's-head and hedgehog fungi.
The brackets often appear from mid-summer through into the autumn.
It is parasitic on hardwoods such as maple and beech.
It is not the most serious of the wood parasites, as the fungus mostly infects already wounded wood.
Though, in rotting-out the heartwood this can structurally weaken a tree.
The fungus is not considered to be edible.
Late Fall Polypore – Polypore fuligineux - Ischnoderma resinosum (Schrad.) P. Karst:
Late fall polypore is one of the bracket or ‘conk’ fungi.
It is a member of the Hapalopilaceae family of polypores.
The brackets are velvety red-brown on top, with a white spore surface below. The brackets can grow up to 15 cm wide.
The spores are borne in tiny pores, each less than 0.2 mm wide.
Its mycelium lives mostly in dead hardwood.
(It has a close relative, the I. benzoinum, that can live in conifer wood.)
The fruiting bodies of the polypore appear in the late autumn.
The bracket is relatively soft - being somewhat rubbery in texture.
When wounded it may exude a resin-like liquid with a strong odour of ‘anise’.
Though not poisonous, the late fall polypore is not generally eaten.
Quite a number of fungi live symbiotically with either cyanobacteria or algae.
In this manner they become indirectly photosynthetic.
These are the lichen fungi.
Most lichens are ascomycetes, a few are in other taxa.
Lichens are not a natural taxonomic group.
Many are in fact closer genetically to non-lichenous fungi than to each other.
Lichens are quite widespread.
In the boreal forest, and in the tundra zone, lichens can grow on the ground as ‘reindeer moss’.
Many species grow on tree bark, and yet other species grow on rock faces.
Pixie-cup Cladonia – Cladonie difforme - Cladonia chlorophaea (Flörke ex Sommerf.) Spreng.:
This ‘reindeer moss’ is an ascomycete in the Cladoniaceae family.
This lichen is sometimes called ‘false pixie-cup’.
The spores form on small green-grey discs or ‘apothecia’.
In this lichen, the apothecia look somewhat like golf tees.
It grows on the ground in mossy patches, often in forest clearings.
These lichens contain symbiotic chlorophyte algae (Trebouxia).
The fungus obtains its carbohydrates via the photosynthesis of its algal symbionts.
Cryptic Rosette Lichen - Physcielle cryptique
- Physciella chloantha (Ach.) Essl.:
The physciella lichen is in the Physciaceae family.
It usually grows on tree bark, but occasionally also on limestone.
It is foliose with rather small lobes on its leafy thallus.
The undersides are pale brown, the upper surface is grey-green to bright green.
The fruiting bodies are fairly small, and they infrequently appear.
Like most lichens, little fragments of the thallus can break off to found new colonies.
These ‘soralia’ contain both the fungal and the algal symbionts.
It is one of the green lichens that can be mistaken for a moss.
The lichen utilizes Trebouxia algae as its photobionts.
Some organisms somewhat resemble fungi - but they are not even members of the same taxonomic kingdom as are the Fungi.
These organisms are the ‘fungoids’ or fungus-like organisms.
The slime moulds are a case in point.
Most slime moulds are Myxogastria - they are amoeboid protozoa.
Somethings called ‘slime moulds’ are in yet different taxonomic groups.
All could be said to be protozoan.
Multigoblet Slime - Métatrichie en nid - Metatrichia vesparium (Batsch) Nan.-Brem.:
Metatrichia vesparium is a slime mould in the Trichiaceae family.
Each fruiting body looks like a tiny metallic club, or a packet of clubs.
The club breaks at its apex to form a little ‘goblet’ containing the spores.
The spongy spore mass is often vivid orange or even red.
During their amoeboid phase they feed mostly on other microbes.
To form spores, many separate amoeboid cells condense into bigger blobs.
These large blobs in turn transform into the tiny ‘toadstools’ - the sporangia.
Metatrichia slimes live on moist dead-wood, dead bark or on plant debris.
The sporangia form just after bouts of rainy weather.
Carnival Candy Slime - Arcyrie dénudée
- Arcyria denudata (L.) Wettst.:
Carnival candy slimes are members of the Arcyriaceae family.
They live mostly on and within moist deadwood.
In its amoeboid stage it feeds on other microbes.
The amoeboid plasmodium condenses into the fruiting bodies or sporangia.
The reddish and fuzzy sporangia vaguely resemble ‘cotton candy’ on a stick.
Each sporangium breaks open at maturity, and the spongy spore mass inside is then exposed.
The sporangia are usually less than 7 mm tall.
These sporangia appear during the summer and the autumn.
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