Sunday, August 30, 2015

Ornate-stalked Bolete (Retiboletus ornatipes)

July 13th. On my walk from picnic Shelter A to the Old Fort at Fort Yargo State Park, I noticed a rather nondescript mushroom on the side of a gully to the lake.

It was in a bed of pine needles just beside a short bridge over a gully. It didn’t look like much but I’ve seen them here before and it was worth climbing down into the gully for a better look.

It looked like something had eaten some of the cap.

When you get closer, it becomes apparent that this isn’t such an ordinary mushroom. Getting a close look is essential to appreciate this mushroom. I always carry a small mirror to get a look at the underside of the cap, and I can take photos of the reflection in the mirror.

Firstly, it’s a polypore. It has pores rather than gills. The pore surface is bright yellow, and the pores are visible to the naked eye – about 2 to 3 pores per millimeter (enlarged in this image).

The pore tubes are approximately 1 to 1.5 cm deep. I don’t know why it is, but something had taken a ‘bite’ out of the side of the cap. (It wasn’t just this one; I’ve seen many photos of this mushroom with a bite out of one side.) It does let us see the pores without having to damage the mushroom.

And then, secondly, the crowning glory of this mushroom – the reticulated stem. This ‘sculptured’ stem is the basis for the common (ornate-stalked) and scientific (ornatipes) names of this mushroom. And finally,… 

the beautiful combination of the pores and the ornate stem. 

So, next time you see a rather ordinary looking mushroom in the woods, it might be worthwhile taking a closer look. You might be rewarded with seeing a truly beautiful, but probably a much unappreciated, mushroom.

- Mushroom Expert: Retiboletus ornatipes
- Mushroom Observer: Retiboletus ornatipes

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