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