April 11, 2022
Good evening, friends,
This week’s mushroom is Mallocybe unicolor, previously known as inocybe unicolor, and unfortunately lacking a common name. This specimen was found in the north woods on 7/13/2021 growing in grass adjacent to a paved path.
The fungus formerly known as Inocybe unicolor was moved to the subgenus Mallocybe by renowned mycologist Brandon Matheny in 2005 (Reference 2) and the subgenus was subsequently bumped to its own genus by Matheny et al in 2019 (Reference 3).
Acknowledging that the previous paragraph is not the most fun fact, and that this isn’t the most-studied fungus, I will include an article that got some buzz last week on the worldwide web. It highlights a study that analyzed mathematical analyses of electric signals between fungi and speculated that organisms in this unique kingdom may have their own form of communication. The head of the study, Professor Andrew Adamatzky at the University of the West of England Bristol, also conceded that “there is another option – they are saying nothing”. Regardless of whether these electric signals are just noise, it inspires discussion.
I’m of the mind that organisms interact, and can communicate, in methods that humans can neither understand nor interpret. Maybe some day we will, but perhaps we never will. Rupert Sheldrake – father of fungal PhD and author of Entangled Life, Merlin Sheldrake – has speculated on animal communication and the idea of morphic resonance for decades.
M. unicolor is mycorrhizal – forming an association with plant roots – in hardwood forests. Due to their symbiosis with hardwoods, they’re often found in oak-hickory forests. This specimen was found growing in the grass next to the path, but also not far from a few oak trees. I read an interesting study (reference 4) on how fire suppression in eastern North America has led to a lot of oak-hickory forest transitioning into mesophytic forest dominated by red maple and black cherry – two of the ramble’s most common trees. Fortunately someone was trying to make sure the same didn’t happen in the north woods last month…
M. unicolor fruits late spring through summer and is believed to be endemic to (only found in) eastern North America. It has a fibrous stipe and a beautiful gill arrangement – both features most notable in the above picture. The gills that originate at the stipe and run to the margin of the cap are lamellae while the smaller gills that do not originate at the stipe are lamellulae. There are some niche mycological terms to put you to sleep.
Have a delightful evening – and a wonderful Passover and Easter to those who celebrate,
1) Kuo, M. (2017, December). Inocybe unicolor. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/inocybe_unicolor.html