A Final Plot Lab Report For Susan Mechanic-Meyers BIO 100 Lab

“watch out for fungi. come to think of it, i'd be a fairy ring fungus, but not one located on Simon's rock campus, because then i'd get kicked over.” - H. G. Manifold, on my admission that I would like to be a tree. One of the first things I noticed upon setting out on this campus was the abundance of mushrooms that littered the fall landscape. Mushrooms! They were so abundantly and deliriously huge and fleshy and poke-able. So, when I received this plot lab assignment, I thought to myself, why not go stare at mushrooms for 15+ minutes per week? There was an absolutely gorgeous fairy ring of Amanita muscaria (commonly known as fly agaric) near the library, which was my original choice in observation. However, only a few weeks into the semester some of these poor mushrooms suffered the fate outlined above by “H. G. Manfold”, while others were abducted and subjected to torture by the residents of Dolliver:



http://mushrooms.simons-rock.edu/images/Amanita/ field%20photos/medium-Copy_of_808.jpg

http://photos934.ak.facebook.com/ip005/v17/202/94/ 116300536/n116300536_30022934_6937.jpg

That Amanita muscaria contains the toxins ibotenic acid and muscimol, causing it to have hallocenogenic and psychoactive properties (Volk 1999), probably did not help its struggle for existence.

With my dreams of observing the development of the fly’s agaric fairy ring dashed, I set out looking for a new observation plot. Still in awe of the glorious existence of the Berkshire’s mushrooms, I decided to peruse some of the nearby territory, which was also heavily littered with fungi. About 4 meters away I found a suitable spot. The plot was bordered on one side by some trees, which had fungus growing up the side, and the stream was about 2.5 meters away from another edge. Mushrooms could be found dotted here and there, on average about 10 cm away from each other. While none were as big as the Amanita Muscaria, there were some fairly large ones, and there was a much wider variety. Little did I realize that that would mean much more time spent attempting to identify them. There was also a good amount of groundcover, mostly moss and (more so towards the end of the semester) dead leaves, as well as standard lawn-variety grasses and weeds, with the occasional flower. I usually observed the plot in late afternoon, though occasionally I could be found there earlier in the day. I never observed after nightfall or before dawn, though, because at the time I was not in possession of a flashlight, which made observation rather difficult, especially considering how poorly Simon’s Rock is lit at night. Observation was more or less on a weekly base, although this became less frequent at the end of the semester, when I suddenly got caught in a flurry of essays, and the realization that I hadn’t learned any calculus since late September. The mushrooms were all dead by that point, anyways, so I was lucky if I got to hear geese. While my journals included observations on organisms such as birds, plants, a pair of very cute chipmunks, and a rather mysterious and fascinating orange slime mold, the main focus I took was on the mushrooms that permeated the landscape. Because of this, what follows is documentation of what I observed this semester in the fungal inhabitants of my plot. They are divided into two categories, based on where I found them: at/on the base of the trees, or on the

ground. Mushrooms that were found on rotting wood fall into the latter category. The mushrooms I observed were fruiting from the beginning of the semester to mid-November. This is not universal within all species; they sprouted at different times, and died at different times. However, by frost fall they were all more or less gone. In general, seems that the larger ones seemed to die off first. The vast majority of this identification has been with the help of Don Roeder’s most excellent guide, located at mushrooms.simons-rock.edu. As of now I have yet to find a pseudomycetum. Various other sources have been used, both for identification and miscellaneous bits of information. These are cited within the paper. I have also included photographs. The locations from which they were taken are found underneath the image. Under or On the Trees Armillariella mellea This mushroom, commonly known as the Honey Mushroom, grew in a small clump of perhaps 10 around the base of one of the trees. The caps were, on average, about 6 cm in diameter. The stems were usually around 10 cm high and 2 cm wide. A distinctive ring was located around the stem. It has been suggested that, when uncooked, these mushrooms are poisonous when uncooked (BIOSCI/Bionet 1995).

Gymnopilus spectabilis This species was found growing on the trees, about 15 cm from the base. They were rather fun to look at, with large caps around

8 cm in diameter. They also had rings on the stems. These are commonly known as “Laughing Gyms” for their hallucinogenic properties (Volk 2005).

Panellus serotinus On the Ground Baeospora myosura This peculiar little mushroom could occasionally be observed on a fallen pinecone. The caps were usually .5-1.5 cm in diameter, and the stems were 2-4 cm high. Apparently an antibiotic was recently made from this fungus (Parish 2004).

Conocybe lactea This small, fragile mushroom, colloquially known as the Dunce Cap, will probably be familiar to many a lawn. It was one of the more frequently observed mushrooms, and was first spotted in early October. Stems were usually around 4 cm tall, and caps were .5-1.5 com in diameter. I uprooted one once, and it withered within 5 minutes.

Entoloma Strictius These were scattered around the plot, and their stems were twisted. Other than that, there isn’t much to say; they were rather boring mushrooms. They were gone by late November.


Hebeloma Crustuliniforme These mushrooms were large and slimy, with cap diameters between 8 and 12 cm long, and stems a little smaller. They could be seen in fairy rings around the area, but in my plot their spacing seemed to be random. They showed up in September and were gone by late November.


Inocybe rimosa This mushroom was one of the earlier ones to go; I think the last one I saw was in early November. There were a few of them clumped together near the trees. They were around 8 cm tall, and the caps had a very distinguishable umbrella-like shape.

Stropharia rugosoannulata These large mushrooms were one of the earlier mushrooms to disappear. They were all gone by late October. They were dotted around the plot, and were 8-12 cm in diameter, and 6-12 cm in height.

http://www.messiah.edu/Oakes/fungi_on_wood/gilled%20fun gi/images/Stropharia%20rugosannulata%

Citations and Resources "Dried Armillariella Mellea Poisonous?" BIOSCI/Bionet. 11 Sept. 1995. 15 Dec. 2006 <http://iubio.bio.indiana.edu:7131/bionet/>. Parish, Craig A., et al. "A New Ene-Triyne Antibiotic From the Fungus Baeospora Myosura." (2004). Abstract. Jounral of Natural Products 67 (2004). 12 Oct. 2004. 20 Dec. 2006 <http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/abstract.cgi/jnprdf/2004/67/i11/abs/np0497853.html> Roeder, Donald, comp. Mushrooms At Simon's Rock: an Aid to Identification of the Genera of Agarics. Simon's Rock. 21 Dec. 2006 <http://mushrooms.simons-rock.edu/>. Volk, Thomas J. "Tom Volk's Fungus of the Month for December 1999." Tom Volk's Fungi. Dec. 1999. 13 Dec. 2006 <http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/dec99.html>. Volk, Thomas J. "Tom Volk's Fungus of the Month for April 2005." Tom Volk's Fungi. Apr. 2005. 13 Dec. 2006 <http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/dec99.html>.

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