The rains of July followed the dry months of April, May and June (third-driest June on record) and by the end of the month, the total precipitation was above normal. Though the rains were a great help for the berry season and the beginning of mushroom time, July ended in a dry spell. During the last third of the month, we received almost no rain.
August started the same way for the first week. This changed radically during the night of Aug. 7-8 when a downpour came by. My rain gauge held 4.5 inches of rain! Others in the region recorded even more. Once again, we (at least some of us) were back in a wetter-than-normal month.
Awesome August with its garden produce, berries, bird migration, insects and spiderwebs has much to offer. But I find one of the greatest happenings at this time is the plethora of mushrooms. The August rains were well-accepted by these quick growths in the woods.
A walk in the woods following these rains became one of forest fungi finds. I easily located more than a dozen kinds of mushrooms and other fungi without leaving the trail.
Mushrooms are often known only by their Latin or scientific names, but that does not take away any of their discovery delights. My mushroom finds began in the yard with brown marasmius and gray coprinus (inky-caps). Soon after entering the woods, I found several kinds and colors of russula, especially white, red and yellow. White lactarius (milk mushroom), red and yellow hygrocybe (waxy-caps) and gray mycena were here, too.
Not far away, I found a patch of golden cantharellus (chanterelles). Large amanitas of yellow and white were conspicuous off the trail. All these mushrooms hold gills or folds under their caps where reproductive spores are formed. But there were others here, too.
Boletes — mushrooms that do not have gills under the caps, but instead have tiny holes for their reproductive spores, and so are called "porous mushrooms" — are also very common in the woods. I found several boletes; including leccinum (scaber stalks) and strobilomyces (old man of the woods).
On logs were tan and gold ramaria (coral fungi) near a growth of yellow-brown pholiota (scaly-caps).
On another downed log, I found a thick growth of white pleurotus (oyster fungi) and a fresh batch of laetiporus (sulphur-shelf or chicken-of-the-woods). This orange-yellow growth seemed to light up the dark log. I had gotten used to looking down to see all these fungal finds, but higher up on a stump, I found the biggest growth of all: climacodon (northern tooth fungus).
The white shelf fungus was layered in several “shelves” as it extended for a foot tall and nearly as wide. This long fungal growth is a type of shelf fungus.
Many kinds of shelves are on trunks and stumps throughout the Northland. These have either gills or pores on the undersides beneath the robust shelves, where the spores are produced. Northern tooth (also called “shelving tooth”) differs by having spine-like structures, known as teeth, that give the northern tooth its name.
Many of the porous shelf fungi will last for months; some are perennial and survive winters. This thick and rough-looking northern tooth does not. It will turn from its present white color to become yellow-brown when aged and fading. But for now, the northern tooth adds height and delight to mushroom woods walks.