Friday, August 9, 2013


This is a rhizopogon. It has the following characteristics:

- Fruiting body that turns from white to purple in about 5 minutes.
- a rhizopogon is a false truffle.
- Has a thick rind
- is like a potato in appearance
- cut it open and is jelly like inside.
If you are really interested, see below.

Small to medium-large underground or erumpent fungi found mainly under confiers. FRUITING BODY round to oval or irregular (potato-like), variously colored. Peridium (skin) present, often firillose, felty, or overlaid with rhizomorphs (mycelia strands). SPORE MASS (Interior) Spongelike, i.e., composed of minute chambers; firm, crisp, rubbery, ior cartilaginous when young, sometimes becoming soft or gelatinous in age; usually cinnamon-brown to dingy olive-brown or grayish at maturity (but often white when young). STALK and columella typically absent.

THESE dingy, unattractive, potato -like fungi are the Russulas of the underworld- unappreciated except by squirrels, but ubiquitous . The 100+ known species are differentiated primarily on chemical and microscopic features such as whether or not the spores are pronged and what color the hyphae of the peridium stain when mounted in potassium hydroxide. However, the sameness and mundaneness of the hizopogon make them relatively easy to recognize as a group. The fruiting body usually has a tough or rubbery ("better bounced than trounced") consistency and the interior is composed of tiny chambers that give it a spongelike appearance (use a hand lens !). Also, the exterior is often overlaid with mycelial strands (rhizormorphs), there is no stalk or columella (or rarely a rudimentary columella) inside the spore mass, and the pores are typically smooth, Finally, nearly all Rhizopogon are mycorrhizal with members f the pine family. (One unidentified local species seems to grow only beneath cow patties or rneadow muffins: but still may be mycorrhizal.) In some species the pore rnass becomes soft or gelatinous in old age, but the chamber are never filled with a gel as in Alpova and Melanogaster nor are they separated by pallid veins, nor does the spore rnass become powdery as in the puffball and earthball .

Rhizopogons are not only the most ubiquitous of all the hypogeous (underground) fungi, they are also among the rnost visible. Ma ny are erumpent (i.e., they burst through the surface of the ground at maturity); others are excavated by squirrels. A few species (e.g., R. occidentalis J R. smithilii) are edible, but rnost have not been tested, and as already pointed out. identification is very difficult. My own experience with them is limited. Not only do I have an 'allergy" to microscopes. but I just can't seem to get excited about the dingy, dumpy, dirty "small potatoes "of the mushroom microcosm when there are so many boletes to be picked and Russulas to be kicked.

Thanks Brent Harzman for today's blog!

Ed Winkle

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