December 27, 2021
Good evening, friends,
This week’s mushroom is Calocera cornea, commonly known as the small staghorn or club-like tuning fork. Diligent readers of MM and astute mycologists will notice the similarity to Dacryopinax spathularia, and you’ll rest soundly knowing they’re both in the Family Dacrymycetaceae. This mushroom was found in the ramble on 9/25/2021.
C. cornea is saprobic, growing on well-decayed wood – usually oaks (as is the case here). It grows summer through fall on each continent besides Africa and Antarctica – although there are even now some submissions from South Africa on iNaturalist. There is a similar species, Calocera viscosa, which grows on decayed conifer wood and is larger in size. As you can see in the first picture, the mushrooms are not half the size of the width of my finger, and they top out around 18 millimeters in height.
The common name is derived from the “tuning fork” shaped basidia (microscopic structures where spores are produced). The genus name ‘Calocera’ can be broken down where Calo means “beautiful” in Greek (it is used commonly in taxonomic names), while Cera means “waxy” in Latin. The species name Cornea means ‘horn’ in Latin and that corresponds to the smooth physical shape of the mushroom – like a brass horn.
There are actually at least three different fungi visible in the photo above. The maroon, wavy mushroom on the right is from the genus Hymenochaete, and the black strands are rhizomorphs (root-like structures/mycelial cords) from a honey fungus (Armillaria). We’ll take a deeper look at Armillaria and those waxy rhizomorphs next week, but the interesting note is that this is an uncommon instance where you can see the actual body of the fungus, and not just the mushroom which we know is the reproductive structure.
Appreciation and Gratitude
I’ve been reflecting on the past year and I’m truly thankful for all of you and the fungal-minded community we have here. Most of you joined the newsletter this year after we met in person and I still like to look through the individual emails to reflect on the memories I have with each of you. The last mushroom walk felt like a cardinal culmination of all the curiosity we’ve cultivated here, but I also deeply appreciate everyone who has passed on thoughtful words in person or over email. I don’t respond to many emails (sending one out every Monday seems to be my saturation point) but I read them, my heart warms, and I tell myself I’ll respond in a few minutes as I look at any and everything else on my phone. That is something I will work on in 2022.
In other exciting news I got a new phone – which means I won’t be relying on my brother’s old iPhone 7 to take pictures – so I’m anticipating a nice improvement in photo quality for Mushroom Monday in 2022. I hope we can all carve out some time during the rest of the week to reflect on the past calendar year and think of aspirations for this next one. The sky is the limit not just for this blog, but for all of us – I’m quite optimistic. I’m sending you all lots of love and positivity as we close out 2021 and hopefully these sentiments spread to everyone in your lives just like mycelium :).
Hope you had a merry Christmas if you celebrate,
1) Kuo, M. (2021, August). Calocera cornea. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/calocera_cornea.html
3) https://www.messiah.edu/Oakes/fungi_on_wood/club and coral/species pages/Calocera cornea.htm