Tom Volk's Fungus of the Month for July 2000
This month's fungi are a patriotic trio of corticioid (crust) fungi, Phlebia coccineofulva, Hyphoderma puberum, and Pulcherricium caeruleum
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The 4th of July means Independence Day in the United States, so I picked some patriotic fungi to celebrate the occasion. This month's fungus is actually a trio of fungi. These are three of the most beautiful of the corticioid (kor-TISS-ee-oid) fungi, also known as the crust fungi or resupinate fungi. The corticoid fungi are actually very common, doing most of the work of decaying logs in the forest. You can find a wide variety of these crust fungi if you start turning over logs and looking at their undersides. There, in the moist area under the log, you will find fruiting bodies, which are not like most fruiting bodies (e.g. mushrooms) you may already know. Mushrooms are formed to raise the basidiospores for reproduction above the substrate so that the spores can be dispersed as far as possible, usually by the wind. The crust fungi have no such elaborate structures, but compensate by having their fruiting bodies remain active from early spring to late fall. many of them are able to dry out ad rehydrate, which most mushrooms cannot do. The fruiting body of a crust fungus consists only of a thin layer or hyphae (called a subiculum [suh-BIK-you-lum]) on the surface of the log with a layer of basidia to the outside. These basidia, which always point downward, form and disperse the spores. Of course the fruiting bodies shown here are placed upside down for photographing. Most corticioid fruiting bodies are not so beautiful, but they make up for it by having very unusual and beautiful microscopic characteristics. most of them are white or tan, but there are lots of color variations, including bright yellow, green, orange, purple and the colors shown here.