Monday, January 10, 2011

Golden Gate Park Helvella

As I've pointed out before, you don't have to go all the way to Mt. Tam to find the wonders of nature. While talking through Golden Gate Park I stumbled upon a field of Fluted Black Helvella mushrooms. These oddly shaped fungi (at first I thought they were dirt clods) have what is often called a saddle-shaped cap (although it usually looks more crumpled) and a stalk that looks like pulled taffy. They are distant relatives of the prized Morel mushrooms.

I have seen these mushrooms in the park before and on Mt. Tamalpais, but I had never seen 50 of them in a group like this, most likely all part of one large set of mycelium, exchanging nutrients with a nearby tree.

The standard Helvella has a cap about the size of a quarter, but some of these were unusually large, including a couple that were a good four to five times the usual size.

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