Fungi in the Woods
So many interesting colorful and strangely shaped fungi are showing up in the fir and spruce forests as summer transitions to fall. There are Amanita (A. muscaria, A. virosa, A. fulva), Clitocybe irina, Russula emetica and R. brevipes, coral fungus (Artomyces pyxidata), puffballs (Lycoperdon perlatum), comb tooth fungus (Hericium ramosum) and many more. Slime molds, not true fungi but soil dwelling amoebas, are showing up here and there. Some are small pink spheres or orange masses of shiny bumps. One slime mold, in the genus Stemonitis, is common on wet rotting wood and looks like sticks of powdery chocolate.
Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi which are for the most part underground or otherwise out of sight. Many fungi are ectomycorrhizal symbionts with the trees and other plants in the forest. The networks that ectomycorrhizal fungi form are connected to many trees and may play an important role in maintaining tree species dominance on some sites. Fungal networks also transport mineral nutrients and photosynthates among the trees they inhabit. Other fungi in the forest decompose fallen trees and leaf litter are important to the health of forests. By breaking down wood they redistribute nutrients locked up in wood and contribute to the formation of humus. Some fungi are parasites on living trees feeding on roots, sapwood, heartwood and other parts of the tree. Parasitic fungi may kill or disfigure trees grown for timber. There are fungi which are parasites on insects or even other mushrooms.