Fungi of northern Illinois

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Probably Chicken-of-the-woods.

I’ve always been fascinated by fungi. They’re incredibly delicate, and yet a mushroom you can scar with a fingernail can also lift a concrete sidewalk slab. One fungus specimen that lives in symbiosis with a very mature oak tree in England has been documented as occupying the soil in as much as a four-mile-radius around the tree—along with the tree’s extended root system. In Oregon there is a single fungus so large, it can be placed on a map.

This summer has been good for fungi in northern Illinois because it was wet, then dry, then wet, then dry, and mostly cool. On our walks through woods in the Chicago metropolitan area my husband and I have seen a lot of fun fungi. Here are some samples, sortakinda identified.

Do not under any circumstances try to identify a fungus from these pictures yourself, and for goodness’ sake, don’t eat it! There are poisonous lookalikes for every mushroom in the world except for morels, and it would be dangerous to assume there’s no false morel out there, waiting to poison some overconfident mycologist.

Here you go.

Sheepshead, supposedly edible.

 

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A flat version of Chicken-of-the-woods.

 

This had vivid colors earlier in the summer. It's faded since then.

This had vivid colors earlier in the summer. It’s faded since then.

 

Chicken-of-the-woods, I think.

Chicken-of-the-woods, I think.

 

An army of shrooms arises all over a heavily-trampled forest preserve picnic area.

An army of shrooms arises all over a heavily-trampled forest preserve picnic area.

 

Here are some compared to my size-nine shoe.

Here are some compared to my size-nine shoe.

 

Cursory research suggests these *might* be honey mushrooms.

Cursory research suggests these *might* be honey mushrooms.

 

Some kind of shelf fungus

Some kind of shelf fungus

 

A different shelf fungus.

A different shelf fungus.

Eensy fungi under an oak tree. Compare acorns for size.

Eensy fungi under an oak tree. Compare acorns for size.

 

Don't eat this.

Don’t eat this.

 

These fungi have found a flaw in the tree bark and follow it.

These fungi have found a flaw in the tree bark and follow it.

 

Fungi going to town on a fallen tree. Millions of creatures, many of them microscopic insects, share this habitat with the fungi.

Fungi going to town on a fallen tree. Millions of creatures, many of them microscopic insects, share this habitat with the fungi.

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Fungi of northern Illinois — 4 Comments

  1. We too have had an abundance of fungi in the foothills of Mt Hood. Waterfalls of mushrooms cascading around old tree stumps. I walk on our walks, and don’t take pictures so, sorry, I can’t oblige.

  2. It’s mushroom season around here too. I have been enjoying myself taking pictures, but find myself frustrated that the most vivid specimens have nearly always been kicked over and broken up.