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Nov 14, 2010

Fungus among us

Photo by BarrytheBirder
My wife and I hiked through a part of the Happy Valley Forest in King Township yesterday. At one point I came across some Horse Hoof Fungus on a fallen and decomposing tree trunk. What was noteworthy was that there were several fungi at right angles to each other (see photo above). I can't say that I've ever noticed this before. But it illustrates perfectly how Horse Hoof Fungus can grow (parasitically) on tree trunks while they are alive and upright, and continue to feed (saprotrophically) on the same tree when it is decaying or dead on the forest floor. The obvious difference being the direction of growth. The dark fungi (above), in a vertical plane, were from the days of the host tree's upright existence, while the light-coloured fungi, on a horizontal plane, represent a later generation flourishing on the same tree.
The origin of the name Horse Hoof Fungus is self-explanatory, based on its shape and appearance, and yet it goes by other names also: Ice Man Fungus and Tinder Fungus, because of its ages-old, fire-starting properties. Beyond this little discovery, it was almost a balmy day for walking in the woods. It was sunny and got up to 13 degrees Celsius, plus it's almost the middle of November. Yes, winter is shorter already!
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