June 27, 2022
Good evening, friends,
This week’s Mushroom Monday is somewhat of a Cerberus – a mythological three-headed dog. We’ve got a featured mushroom, a recap of yesterday’s New York Mycological Society walk in Central Park, and a robust section of upcoming events.
Batting lead off, this week’s mushroom is the blackfoot polypore. The taxonomy is a little screwy so it may be Cerioporus varius or Cerioporus leptocephalus, and Michael Kuo of MushroomExpert considers the two synonyms (the same species). When I find these, I post them on iNaturalist as C. leptocephalus, but today I’m going to refer to it as C. varius because it requires less typing. Proper science capitulates to finger longevity, but we’ll still look at the loose way to distinguish between the supposedly separate species down below.
This is one of the more common mushrooms I encounter up at Manitou and the specimen below was found on 6/22/2022. While the scientific community may be unsure about its identity, the blackfoot polypore continues to grow handsomely and defiantly in the face of all this scrutiny.
A study from Turkey showed that C. varius possesses novel antimicrobial and antifungal compounds, suggesting it can be used as a natural antibiotic (Sevindik, 2019). The research examined how different alcohol extractions of C. varius affected the growth of different bacteria and fungi that are known to be harmful to human health. Some of the test subjects were MRSA, E. coli, and Candida albicans – a fungus in all of our guts and one of the few fungi that can cause disease in humans.
Natural forms of antibiotics, like C. varius, are becoming more important as more bacterial/fungal pathogens develop resistance toward our synthetic antibiotics (MRSA stands for Methicillin Resistant Stapholococcus Aureus). Making your own antibiotic tincture can be as simple as letting these mushrooms sit in grain alcohol. We still have so much more to learn and discover in the world of medicinal mushrooms.
C. varius is saprobic, growing from dead wood of hardwoods – and usually on downed branches. I’ve also found it growing from oriental bittersweet, so like the smoked oysterling, it is also a decomposer of that gnarly invasive vine. C. varius grows spring through fall and is found on five of the seven continents sans Africa and Antarctica. Allegedly, the difference between C. varius and C. leptocephalus are the “radial striations” on C. varius – lines running like bike spokes from the center of the cap to the edge. The picture below of a specimen I found earlier in June doesn’t seem to possess those radial lines and that would suggest it is C. leptocephalus.
The mushroom is poroid, meaning it releases its spores through little tubes called pores. In this instance, the pores run all the way down the stipe almost to the point of attachment. Then, at the base, you see the feature for where this mushroom gets its name. The black covering on the stipe, the black foot, moves up the stem with age (exemplified in a different specimen below). The cap ranges in color from yellow to cinnamon brown, and the whole mushroom doesn’t grow taller than 3 inches.
Gary Lincoff’s Backyard Mushroom Walk
Yesterday, the New York Mycological Society hosted it’s first official walk of the season in Gary Lincoff’s former stomping grounds, Central Park. The group met on Gary Lincoff Way, 95th and Amsterdam, and headed into the park from there. Here’s some of what we found growing in spite of the dry conditions.
The NYMS does weekly walks throughout the city and has been the greatest resource in my fungal journey. I can’t speak highly of them enough. In fact, I had my mind blown yesterday when I learned that the ubiquitous violet toothed polypore, Trichaptum biforme, actually has pores – contrary to its common name. I always thought it was a toothed mushroom, but in fact the pores just rapidly degrade and appear as teeth. The walls of my mycological world crumbled and here I am a day later trying to plaster them back together.
As any good self-promoter knows, you want to include any sort of plug for your events at the very bottom of the mushroom blog that ~58% of recipients open. Through my work with Catskill Fungi, I’m hosting a walk with the Alchemist’s Kitchen in Central Park on 7/16 at 10AM. You can sign up for that here. Later in the month, I’ll be participating in a discussion at the Alchemist’s Kitchen where we’ll talk about cultivating, foraging, and the healing power of medicinal mushrooms. Learn more about that on the event page here.
Lastly but perhaps most notably, the mycophilic one, Luke Sarrantonio, is hosting a For the Love of Fungi! event on 7/24 at the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge, New York. The flyer is below and you can read more details here. Checkout Luke and sign up to receive his newsletter at https://www.mycophilic.net.
Next time we check in we’ll be more than halfway through 2022, how about that?
1) Kuo, M. (2020, February). Polyporus varius. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/polyporus_varius.html
2) Sevindik, Mustafa. (2019). THE NOVEL BIOLOGICAL TESTS ON VARIOUS EXTRACTS OF CERIOPORUS VARIUS. Fresenius Environmental Bulletin. 28. 3713-3717. Website: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336686844_THE_NOVEL_BIOLOGICAL_TESTS_ON_VARIOUS_EXTRACTS_OF_CERIOPORUS_VARIUS