The January 16 post features a beautiful group of fungi that were identified as being bracket fungi. The photo was taken by our Webmaster, Kim Walton. In the post, I asked if anyone could identify the organisms.
In response to the request, one of our fellow bloggers, Joan Knapp, wrote back that and said that, from what she could tell from the picture; the fungi did not appear to be bracket fungi. Instead, she suggested that perhaps they were a species of mushroom. She went on the say that if it was a stand of mushrooms, they were probably a Pleurotus species. However, in order to know for sure if the fungi were actually mushrooms, she needed to see if they had gills on the underside of each fruiting body.
Joan’s need to see the underside of the fungi prompted Kim to return to the site where she found them, and photograph the underside of at least one of the organisms. When she arrived at the location, she was astonished to find the tree and the mushrooms had disappeared. The tree had been cut down and hauled away. All that was left were a tree stump and a couple of scattered pieces of mushrooms (see photo).
When I sent the photo to Joan, she said that, although the mushroom had rotted, she could detect gills–this meant they were mushrooms. It seems bracket fungi do not have gills but mushrooms do. However, the piece of the mushroom depicted in the photo was so far gone; she would not hazard a guess as to what it species it was.
In spite of a paucity of evidence, someone familiar with mushrooms used her knowledge to ensure that the organisms depicted in the blog were correctly identified.
One lesson that I have taken away from this whole experience is that the identification of the hundreds of species of fungi that grow in Georgia is best left to the experts.
Thank you, Joan.