Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Hericium erinaceus Just in time for Halloween: Fungi with TEETH! This pure white mushroom is quite the rock star in the fungus world, being both an edible and medicinal fungus.  It grows on recently downed or wounded hardwood trees, which is exactly where I found these! As a mushroom, Lion’s Mane is just a mass of white spines,…

Honey Mushrooms

Armillaria Honeys! Here’s another new mushroom for me! There are two honey mushroom species pictured in this gallery—both are parasitic on hardwood trees.  Armillaria mellea has a distinct ring, or annulus on the stipe and a partial veil when new; the gills are attached; the color is typically honey yellow. Armillaria tabescens is ringless; the…

Bradleys

Lactarius volemus The genus name of this mushroom refers to the “milky” latex that quickly flows when the flesh of the mushroom is cut or broken. Locally known in Southwest Virginia as swamps or bradleys, Lactarius volemus is an edible mushroom species. The top of the cap is burnt orange and smooth when young; the rim is…

Slender Gerardia

Agalinis tenuifolia (Gerardia tenuifolia) Slender Gerardia is a native annual that grows to about 2 feet in height. Note the slender, linear leaves and overall dark color (green to purple) of the foliage.  The leaves are opposite and entire. The flowers, borne on long pedicels, are light to dark pink with purple spots inside. They…

New England Aster

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae You’ll recognize this prolific fall bloomer: New England Aster can be found growing locally in both home gardens and open meadows. Gobs of showy, purplish flowers cover the top of this tall native plant and provide an important source of nectar for insects–especially migrating butterflies– at this time of year. Examine the photo…

Sneezeweed

Helenium autumnale I really like this species epithet: autumnale!  It reminds me of what is happening right now, ever so subtly, in the great outdoors:  There are little signs of autumn coming–the black gums dropping bright red leaves on the forest floor…  the preying mantis growing large and more conspicuous on the prowl… the late…

Pinesap

Montropa hypopithys Popping up from below the forest leaf litter–look at this: is it a plant? A kind of fungus? If you are familiar with Indian Pipe, you might guess that these two organisms are related, and you’d be right. Pinesap, like Indian Pipe, is a non-photosynthetic flowering plant that gets its energy from organic matter…

Kidneyleaf Grass-of-Parnassus

Parnassia asarifolia A friend led me to a sphagnum bog in the mountains near Glen Alton, and that’s where we found a beautiful white wildflower in bloom:  the Grass of Parnassus!  Surrounding this plant was an immense diversity of other moisture-loving plants including sphagnum moss, sundews, cotton grass, horsetails, shining clubmoss, and alder. First of…

Ornate-stalked Bolete

Boletus ornatipes or Retiboletus ornatipes I love the color of this mushroom! It is mustard yellow! And note the ornate, netted pattern on the stipe (a reticulate stem)!  The ornate-stalked bolete is mycorrhizal on hardwoods, and in fact we found all of these mushrooms in a mixed-oak forest at Pandapas Pond, in Montgomery County, VA…

A Mushroom Foray: August 2012

Pandapas Pond Foray Below is a collection of photos from a mushroom walk that I took with the NRV Mushroom Club.  What a diversity!

Yellow Crownbeard

Verbesina occidentalis This native perennial of moist and sunny places begins blooming in late summer and has a confusing look-alike called wingstem, Verbesina alternifolia, which blooms at about the same time.  They often occur together in the same area..  So let’s compare them:  Crownbeard and Wingstem are relatively tall plants with winged stems. Each is…

Spindles, Worms, and Corals: Oh My!

How many shapes can can a mushroom take? Apparently the answer is MANY! The following group of fungi take the form of worms, spindles and corals, and their names reflect the diversity of colors and shapes that are currently unfolding in our local woods. Smokey Worm Corals, Magenta Corals, Beautiful Corals, Orange Spindles…click on any…

Joe Pye Weed

Eupatorium or Eutrochium Here’s a tall native wildflower that has large, serrated, whorled leaves and masses of rose pink blooms in late summer.  Joe Pye weed grows 4 to 7 feet in height and enjoys life in all sorts of damp places in southwest Virginia. Believe it or not, Joe Pye weed is a composite…

Yellow Fringed Orchid

Platanthera ciliaris This magnificent, bright yellow-orange orchid blooms in July and August in our area.  It can be found in open woods, in either dry or wet places, although most of the photos below were taken in boggy places. As you can see, these exotic flowers are borne in a dense cluster at the top…

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain

Goodyear pubescens   I love the leaves of this little native orchid.  Look at that symphony of color and design! The silver markings on the dark blue-green leaves, along with the bold stripe in the center of the leaf make it easy to identify as rattlesnake plantain. The “plantain” part of this plant’s name comes…

American Wintergreen or Eastern Teaberry

Gaultheria procumbens Pictured here is a little wildflower that has been sitting out in the cold all winter, holding fast to its tiny red berries.  As the plant’s common name implies, the round to elliptical, shiny leaves of American winterberry stay green all winter.  The cherry-red fruit persists as well. Wintergreen is technically a low-growing shrub,…

Blue Vervain

Verbena hastata No need to bend over to see this tall beauty!  Blue vervain grows 2 to 5 feet tall! I found these plants growing on the banks of Pandapas Pond in June and July in Montgomery County, Virginia. The 5-petaled, violet-blue flowers of blue vervain are borne on unique branching spikes. The flowers on…

Jack O’Lantern Mushroom

Omphalotus illudens No, it is not time for Halloween, but it IS time for bright orange mushrooms to start popping out of the ground to do a little pre-holiday scaring. The Jack O’Lantern Mushroom is pretty distinctive, so you should have little trouble identifying this one.  If a big patch of orange catches your eye…

The Grisette and Tawny Grisette

Amanita vaginata The Grisette is a species in the genus Amanita, a group that contains a number of deadly mushrooms. Unlike most of the other Amanitas, this mushroom lacks a ring on the stem, even though it emerges from a sac-like volva in the ground. Young specimens emerge with an oval cap, which eventually becomes…

The Blusher

Amanita rubescens Here’s a classic mushroom, warts and all. “The Blusher” is a common, colorful mushroom in the genus Amanita that has a prominent ring (and sometimes a full veil) on the stem.  The cap is reddish-brown to yellow-beige and freckled with warts; the stem tends to take on the color of the cap. The…

July Mushroom Foray at Pandapas Pond

So much rain this summer in Southwest Virginia…it is a banner year for fruits and vegetables, and especially for wild mushrooms. Another mushroom foray around the Pandapas Pond area in Montgomery County produced the following fun assortment of wild fungi in our local woods. The best highlight for me was moose antlers ! What we found…

Moose Antlers

Wynnea americana Found July 17th in the Pandapas Pond area of Jefferson National Forest: Moose Antlers! Thanks to John Ford for identifying it right on the spot! From WIKIPEDIA: “Wynnea americana, commonly known as moose antlers or rabbit ears, is a species of fungus in the Sarcoscyphaceae family. This uncommon inedible species is recognizable by…

American Poke

Phytolacca americana Also known as Virginia poke, American nightshade, pokeweed, and pokeberry, among other names, this native perennial is a towering beauty in fallow fields. American poke grows very tall (6-12 ft!) and typically inhabits waste areas and edge habitat. The leaves of American poke are simple, alternate, lanceolate, entire, and very large (up to…

Black Trumpets

Craterellus cornucopioides Although I’ve heard of edible black trumpet mushrooms before, I was not expecting to find them today. I practically fell over them on my way to pick up a few chanterelles! Once I got a good look at them, I started to find them at just about every spot where I also found…

Mushroom Foray #5

A July 8th mushroom foray with John Ford (can you call a two-person mushroom hunt a “foray”?) resulted in a whole bunch of new species for me.  Here are some of the species we found.  If you can identify some of the “mystery” species, please leave me a comment.  Thanks! Golden-gilled Gerronema And finally, found…

July 4th Mushroom Walk

Here are a few of the interesting fungi I found growing at Pandapas Pond on July 4th.  I know a few of these, but some of them are unidentified. If you know what they are, will you drop me a line?  Thanks! Click on any image in the gallery for a larger view.

Chanterelles in General

Cantharellus If you live here in Southwest Virginia, you’ll know its been raining steadily for most of the summer.  The ground is sopping wet and the streams and rivers are out of their banks. Everyone is getting a little tired of it by now.  But take a walk in the forest and you’ll find some…

Heal-All or Self-Heal

Prunella vulgaris As the name would suggest, heal-all has been used to treat all kinds of maladies in the past. Traditionally,  the shape of a plant was often used to discern its medicinal uses, and so the shape of this flower, with its open mouth exposing the throat, led to it being used as a…

Field Chamomile

Anthemis  I found this beautiful, small daisy growing in a shale outcropping at Pandapas Pond yesterday. Unlike other daisy-like flowers blooming at this time, this plant was relatively low-growing with small (1-inch) but robust flowers. The unique leaves were finely divided and almost lacy. The entire plant had a rather sprawling growth habit and appeared…

Butterfly Weed

Asclepias tuberosa Butterfly weed is a kind of milkweed.  The brightly colored, orange flowers are similar in shape to those of common milkweed. It is a native perennial that gets its name from the fact that the flowers are so attractive to butterflies.  Insects and hummingbirds are attracted to both the color and the large…

American Wintergreen or Round-leaved Pyrola

Pyrola americana Also flowering in June is another member of the Wintergreen Family: Round-leaved Pyrola.  This low-growing, creeping perennial has shiny green leaves arranged in a rosette. Each leaf is 1 to 2 inches in length, rounded at the tip, and strongly veined. Several blooms are born on a spike (raceme). The hanging, white flowers…

Common Mullein

Verbascum thapsus Common mullein is a large biennial plant that can grow 5 to 6 feet in height.  The distinctive, grayish-green, oval leaves are covered in a downy hair that is very soft to the touch. In the plant’s first year, only a basal rosette of leaves appears. In the second year, a tall flower…

Pale-Spike Lobelia

Lobelia spicata This small-flowered lobelia has striking white to pale blue flowers that are borne on an unbranched stem (12-36 inches). The alternate leaves are ovate to spatulate, narrower at the base than at the tip. They tend to occur on the lower part of the stem, and some may form a loose basal rosette–…

Skullcap

  Scuttelaria Skullcap is a native perennial wildflower.  The genus, Scuttelaria, is huge; there are 300 species worldwide. Ninety-plus species occur in North America alone. The flower get its name from the shape of the calyx (the group of sepals) at the base of the flower, which looks like a little helmet (or “skull cap”)….

Prince’s Pine or Pipsisewa

Prince’s Pine, Pipsisewa, Wintergreen, or Waxflower Chimaphila umbellate This is a very attractive native perennial that can be found in dry, mountain woodlands growing along side other kinds of wintergreen (like Striped Wintergreen , Round-leaved Pyrola, or American Wintergreen). Prince’s Pine has shiny-green, leathery, whorled leaves that are toothed. The pink to white flowers are waxy-looking…

Striped Wintergreen or Pipsissewa

Chimaphila maculata Such a dainty, intriguing flower! I’ve been stalking it for a month now, waiting for it to come into bloom. Finally! Here it is in June at Pandapas Pond, near Blacksburg. This perennial evergreen herb is another forest floor inhabitant that could easily go unnoticed due to its size.  In flower it is…

Yellow Star Grass

Hypoxis hirsuta This bright yellow wildflower might pass for a buttercup at first glance. Look closely and you will see that the leaves of this plant are slender and grasslike, reaching about 12 inches in height.  The flowers appear on shorter stems that usually bear more than one flower bud. The inflorescence is less than…

Bowman’s Root

Indian Physic, Fawn’s Breath, or Bowman’s Root Gillenia trifoliate The five narrow petals on this white flower protrude from the center in an irregular fashion. Perched atop dainty red stems, the blooms appear to just float in the air! Spent flowers are replaced immediately by bright red calyxes. The bushy plant grows 2 to 3 ft….

Yellow Hawkweed or King Devil

Hieracium caespitosum (H. pratense) I’ve been spotting a new wildflower around town this week, and I even saw it a couple of days ago on top of Salt Pond Mountain, near Mountain Lake. It is hard to miss this plant because the flower stalks are tall and straight and they are topped with sunny yellow flowers…

Pussytoes

Antennaria Antennaria:  This is a difficult genus, containing several species in our area. Since I’m not a botanist, I am going to stop at the genus level here and simply say that all the flowers on this page are members of the genus, Antennaria, or Pussytoes! Don’t you LOVE the name? Soft and wooly, with white…