Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Unknown Fungi

While hiking in the cool dewy morning, I saw a hawk being mobbed by a group (a murder) of raucous crows! The attackers' harsh cries could be heard from a distance so I headed in their direction. Twice as I walked toward them the noise stopped for about ten seconds, only to begin again just as loud and persistent. Why do they do this? How do they all know to stop at the same time? I don't know if my approach encouraged the hawk to get the heck out of there, but when I got close there was a sudden whoosh - whoosh - whoosh of large wings and the flash of a red tail as the hawk flew off, escorted by about eight squawking crows. One they were gone silence fell over the woods. I walked slowly on looking for rocks and feathers, and noticed that within five minutes the other little birds in the trees started singing again.

There were two piles of fresh fox scat full of persimmon seeds in the cut that runs between the three pipelines. I use it all the time to gain access to the woods and rocky ridge above Lawson's Fork. It must be a fox cut-through, too.

Later this afternoon I sat down to draw the strange, brown and scaly fungi above. They've been growing all fall in our yard, until my son picked them and brought them to me last week. I'd love to know a name. I couldn't find it in any of my field guides. I did find a photo of one in a blog and was excited until I saw that the writer called it "Fungus anonymous." Oh, well! If anyone knows a name, please let me know!


Debbie Drechsler said...

Hi Helen! I was sent to your blog because of the mystery fungus, by my friend Elva Paulson. She thought I might be able to help with identification but I'm stumped! You might try posting your image at and see if anyone there can name it for you.

I'll have to thank Elva for sending me your way. Your blog is delightful and I greatly admire your ability to paint what you see as you walk about.

Greg Marley said...

Hi Helen,

This image was forwarded to me by Carole Mathews of Camden Maine who has taken a mushroom identification class I teach here.

Though initially it eluded me, I was suddenly struck with the certainty that what you illustrated is the sterile base of a puffball that was growing in your yard earlier in the summer. The interior of the puffballs mature into a mass of spores and are released onto the wind. Several types of puffballs gave a column of tissue that serves to elevate the spore mass above the dead air at ground level. This mass is often quite persistent; I find them often in the spring following fruiting the previous fall. These are great renderings.

Greg Marley
author of:
Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares; The Love Lore and Mystique of Mushrooms

Helen said...

Thank you Greg! I love mushrooms and fungi and am always looking them up in my field guides, but that one had me stumped. Now I must read your book, Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares.... What a great title!

Anonymous said...


Glad to assist. Feel free to send any mushroom ID challenges to me at