Monday, September 26, 2011

Fungus Among Us Update!

(Update to the Update:  After I posted this entry, I had the good fortune to meet an amazing mycologist, Dr. Tom Volk, professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse.  Check out TomVolkFungi.net--his website is well worth exploring!  He has a great FYI page as well as a "Fungus of the Month" page and my favorite, the "Holiday Fungi" page.  Many thanks Dr. Volk!)

Today it looked like mushrooms had erupted just about everywhere on the Museum grounds--it seemed like a veritable "myconian invasion!"  So, I couldn't resist posting this as an update to my September 7th "fungus" entry.  For those of you not living in this area--the weather here has been rainy, relatively warm and very humid--perfect for fungal growth (and hordes of mosquitoes!)  I found beautiful clusters of mushrooms, especially at the base of trees:


My colleague, Rock Moeslein, spotted these stinkhorn mushrooms.  When I photographed them, there were flies attracted to the slimy tips of the fungus:


I was amazed by the bright colors of some of the mushroom caps:


As well as this ethereally translucent mushroom:


I found these "turkey tail" fungi along the path near the Museum's entrance:


These small mushrooms look velvety on top with a delicate "fringe" around their edges:



But the most impressive mushroom display was this 20-foot "fairy circle" of mushrooms--my friend Julia Horton is standing in the center to show scale.  She is 6-foot tall--and this is not a "trick" photo!



Hope you enjoyed the photos.  By the way, I'll still post the answers to my previous "Guess Who?" (Sep. 21st) blog on my normal schedule--look for it on October 5th.


Cheers,
Lisa

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guess Who? Part 1

Do you like guessing games?  If so, get your thinking caps on....can you guess what these animals are based on photos that show only parts of the animal?  Here's the first one--it's pretty easy:


 OK, do you know what this is?:



What about this one?:



Last one--perhaps a little harder to figure out!:


Answers in two weeks!
Cheers,
Lisa

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fungus Among Us

(Update:  After I posted this entry, I had the good fortune to meet an amazing mycologist, Dr. Tom Volk, professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse.  Check out TomVolkFungi.net--his website is well worth exploring!  He has a great FYI page as well as a "Fungus of the Month" page and my favorite, the "Holiday Fungi" page.  Many thanks Dr. Volk!)

The drenching rains recently produced by Hurricane Irene and the warm temperatures following that torrential downpour have resulted in optimal growing conditions for fungus.  Yep, folks, there is indeed a fungus among us!  Check out this giant mushroom:


I took these photos on the grassy slope that borders our museum parking lot:


Several people have told me that these are "giant puffball" mushrooms, but I'm not sure exactly what kind they are.  Honestly, I'm not an expert on mushrooms!  But, as far as general information goes:  fungi are a group of organisms that get their nutrients by absorption--most are decomposers, though some are parasitic.  They are not classified as plants because they lack chlorophyll--plants use chlorophyll to harness sunlight energy to make food in their own bodies using photosynthesis.  The part we see as a "mushroom" above ground is the reproductive structure of the fungal body--it produces spores.  The vegetative part of the fungal body is made up of tiny tube-like structures called "hyphae" that form an underground mat called a "mycelium."

Anyway, hope you enjoy the photos....I'll have more images for you in two weeks.

Cheers,
Lisa