Look closer… look waaaaaaay closer…now squint…

Sometimes, mushrooms are gigantic. I mean absolutely freakin’ huge. In the Oregon Cascades, there’s a singular conch of noble polypore (bridgeoporus nobilissimus) estimated to weigh more than 300lbs.

These are not those mushrooms.

While mycelial networks sometimes stretch for miles, and can be so densely woven through the soil or inside trees they could easily go around the earth in the space of a few feet, sometimes they produce mushrooms so tiny it’s amazing we notice them at all.

IMG_0991

Identifying these fruiting bodies isn’t necessarily “the point”: in fact, many mycophiles are content to enjoy the presence of “LBM’s” – Little Brown Mushrooms – without worrying about their names or taxonomies.

Here’s one so small and delicate that the wind was moving it and the camera had a hard time focusing, even after it was brought out of the forest and into brighter light.

LBM with keytag 2  LBM with keytag

Still, some tiny mushrooms present such unique characteristics as to practically shout their presence at you from among the trees. Turquoise wood is not something you see every day, but playing host to Green Stain (chlorociboria aeruginascens) fungi, turns  decaying branches into technicolour forest litter. When they fruit, the cups are miniscule, and awfully fun to look at.

green stain small

This winter, a close inspection of a piece of confier in the woodpile turned up these beauties, tenuously identified as the “common split-gill”.

Common splitgill 1 Common splitgill 2

According to Wikipedia, folks in Mizoram call their local variety Pasi, literally “tiny mushroom”, and it’s considered an important edible.

Watching the end of this  well-myceliated log for a few days turned up a very mini-mushroom (note the size of the fruiting body compared to the rings in the wood of the tree!).

tiny mushroom with mycelium

So keep an eye out in the mossy patches, and look for that telltale mycelium — slow down and hear the littlest mushrooms calling your name!

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