Category Archives: Mushrooms

Mushrooms: Thin-walled Maze Polypore

Photo of <i>Daedaleopsis confragosa</i> top

Thin-walled Maze Polypore (Daedaleopsis confragosa) specializes in breaking down hardwood logs. Fruiting bodies have no apparent stalk, may arise singly or in clusters, and have caps with alternating zones of earthy browns and tans. The pores on the under surface vary in shape and can be round, elongated, maze-like, or even gill-like. Their tendency to turn red when bruised is a useful identification feature. To learn more about this common, inedible wood-eater, visit

Photo of <i>Daedaleopsis confragosa</i> bottom

Mushrooms: Coral Fungi

Photo of Coral Mushroom

A wide variety of unrelated mushrooms share a similar coral-like growth form and are collectively known as Coral Fungi. The colors of these decomposers range from leaf-litter-like tans and yellows, to eye-catching oranges, pinks, and purples. According to George Barron*, these mushrooms, while pleasing to the eye, are often difficult to identify to genus, never mind species level. Positive identification of many species requires examining key features with a microscope.

After some non-microscopic examination, I'd guess this mushroom is in the genus Ramaria (possibly R. stricta), but for our purposes here, I'll leave this coral fungus unidentified.


*Mushrooms of Northeast North America: Midwest to New England (1999, p. 110)

Mushrooms: Fly Agaric

Photo of Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric)

The Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) is a distinctive gilled mushroom found in parts of North America, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. The cap is covered with irregular, white warts, and, depending on age, weathering, and subspecies, the cap color ranges from bright red to orange to yellow to white (the Yellow-orange, or guessowii¹, subspecies is shown here).

Also note the bulbous base, the membranous ring on the upper stalk, and the white, free (meaning they're not attached to the stalk) gills -- three features shared by members of the genus Amanita. Though the genus contains some edible and medicinal species, many others are strictly toxic.

A Peterson's Field Guide² describes the Fly Agaric as "a well-known intoxicant, reported to produce sensual derangement, erratic behavior, delirium, deep 'death-like' sleep, and in some cases, death." Many other sources simply call this species poisonous.

To view the following images in full-size, click here.

¹Many sources call this subspecies formosa.
²A Field Guide to Venomous Animals and Poisonous Plants (1998) by Steven Foster and Roger Caras, page 200.

Mushrooms: Violet-toothed Polypore

Photo of <em>Trichaptum biforme</em> (Violet-toothed Polypore)

Trichaptum biforme is a common decomposer of wood and is widespread across North America. The fruiting bodies of this shelf fungus average 1-2" wide, and like Turkey Tail, often grow in crowded colonies. But whereas Turkey Tail has smooth, whitish pore surfaces, the pore surfaces of Trichaptum biforme are spine-like and violet-tinged, explaining a common name for this species: Violet-toothed Polypore. This mushroom is neither edible nor medicinal, but is nonetheless worth getting to know. For more info and photos, visit (To view the following images in full-size, click here.)