Monthly Archives: September 2011

A Mid-September Colorado Foray

Figure 1. Location of Black Forest Regional Park (A)

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I don’t get out on many mushroom hunts these days, but with the record one-day rainfall of last week, I figured that over the weekend it would be as good a time as any to get out. So, on Sunday, September 18 we took a short trip over to Black Forest County park in El Paso County just to the northeast of Colorado Springs.

It was a nice day and, although the ground had started to dry up already, it was still moist under the duff. The park is characterized by sandy soil and a mixture of tall pine trees and clumps of scrub oak (see Figure 1 for map location).

Figure 2. A small late summer collection of Colorado mushrooms

I thought we would come up with a lot more, but we did manage to bring home six collections. After spreading them out on a table and setting some up for spore prints, I tried my best to identify what I could (Figure 2).

One needed no research and was obviously what is known as the lobster mushroom, which is of course actually some (usually difficult to identify exactly Russula or Lactarius) mushroom species covered with a reddish-orange parasitic fungus called Hypomyces lactifluorum . Supposedly edible, but no thanks.

Spore prints were not very successful. Apparently the mushrooms were a little dry, but one did drop an ample amount of pinkish brown spores. Using Arora’s Mushrooms Demystified, it keyed out fairly reliably to Pleurotus cervinus, although the cap was a little paler than what is seen in most photographs . I really should join the local mycological society so I can get more familiar with the local species.

Figure 3. Lobster mushrooms

Lacking spore prints, compounded by my general lack of knowledge about Colorado fungi, I was unable to make much headway on the others, although the clustering species with decurrent gills could possibly be Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca (but I wouldn’t bank on it). They were a nice yellow
color with inrolled cap margins and a slightly brownish center region on the cap,  growing in attractive clumps (Figure 4).

I dampened some of the caps from specimens that I had not obtained spores from in the hope that they would rejuvinate and perhaps yield something. I’ll check  again in a day to see if anything shows up. Without spores, there isn’t much chance of getting a good ID. I am sure someone who is more familiar with the local mycoflora could probably recognize them though.

I was pretty good at identifying Texas mushrooms, but I am admittedly out of practice. I need to work on my Colorado mycology chops!

Figure 4. Cluster of mushrooms with decurrent gills