Mycology for everyone (3rd part)

Mushrooms in winter (?)

Many nature friends assume that there are only few or even no freshly growing mushrooms in winter. Insider know better:
Admittedly, for a marked food mushroom collector, who usually knows 5-10 species, the winter season is a tough time. The mushroom friend, however, who is conscious of nature protection, is even in winter more aware of the ecological context. He recognizes more details, since he deals more critically with the demands for life and habits of the different individuals. At least he enjoys the small, delightful, and often mysterious charms of nature.
Therefore, during each excursion in winter the experienced mushroom friend can easily find and recognize a few dozens of species.
I would like to deal with some winter mushrooms, which adjusted themselves to the extremely "unfavorable" living conditions of the cold season, as follows:
The "Austernseitling" (Pleurotus ostreatus) a well-known and estimated breed mushroom, grows in nature only after the first night frost. It needs a cooling shock for the fructification (fruit body formation). It is not very discriminating with its host choice. It grows on different ill deciduous trees and causes their dying.
A frequently to be found and widespread gilled mushroom is the "Samtfußrübling" (Flammulina velutipes). It grows mostly fasciculate, preferentially on dead branches or stumps of trees as willow and poplar but also on others. Its gold-yellow, always slimy or sticky caps and the blackvelvet stem do not permit mistake with another kind. They often appear with the first thaw and then are a pretty and high-contrast photo object.
The also fasciculate growing "Winterhelmling" (Mycena tintinnabulum) with its shining brown to jet black conical or campanulate caps is always an eye catcher.
Kiefern- or Fichtenzapfenrüblinge (Strobilurus spec.) are to be found nearly on each winter foray. The small, delicate, approx. 1-3 cm large mushrooms settle only on pine- or spruce cones. These are sometimes hidden under a humus layer, but careful investigations will always bring them to the daylight.
On woodchips along roadsides and footpathes whole troops of "Winter-Trompetenschnitzlinge" (Tubaria hiemalis) can be found frequently. The margin of the cap of the young specimen is covered with white floccules (remainders of the protecting covering or Velum of the increasing fruit body).
A rare and even among mushroom experts relatively unknown winter mushroom is the "Pappelblattschüppling" (Pholiota oedipus). On the one hand it has an excellent camouflage with its grey-olive-greenish cap color. It hardly stands out against the similar-colored decaying leaves. On the other hand the question arises: Whoever goes mushroom hunting into poplar-forests in January or February? The mushroomer, who has the luck to find the 1-3 cm large mushroom, will always find it on decaying poplar-leaves, very rarely also on beech or ash leaves.

On frost-protected winter days some more gill mushrooms can be found which shall not be mentioned here. In addition to these, a whole army of non gilled mushrooms is constantly available, like "Porlinge, Stachelinge, Gallert-, Pustel-, Keulen-, or Schichtpilze", which appear nearly all-season. They all have their special attraction.
The mushroom-experienced reader will have recognized that all the mushrooms mentioned so far, are characterised by their way of life: all representatives are inhabitants of decayed organic matter. The technical term for these species is saprophytes.
However, none of the mushroom families dealt with here are "parasites, dangerous or wood-destructive parasites or useless dirt", as many unaquainted laymen assume for lack of knowledge of the ecological relationships in our environment. Rather they are indispensably important members in the constantly repeating cycle of nature. If there would not be no fungi, the preparation of the soils, which supply of new humus for following vegetations does not ensure. We would probably suffocate in mountains of dead wood, plants and leaves. (from Trittstein 4/1989)

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