The Light-Spored Mushrooms
This table contains most of the gilled mushrooms in the fair which have light colored spores*. All the mushrooms on this table have white, yellow or pink spores. However, not all the light-spored mushrooms are on this table. The other light-spored mushrooms are either more closely related to some of the dark-spored gilled mushrooms or they are non-conformists and may not have gills at all.
* Spores are the microscopic seeds of mushrooms. In these mushrooms, the spores are produced on flat plate structures on the bottom of the cap called gills.
The Waxy Caps
The Waxy Caps are often brightly colored. They have wide spaced gills that feel waxy. They also have unusually long basidia, which are the microscopic structures where the spores are created. Recent genetic work indicates that this group is artificial meaning that some of the species in this group are more closely related to species in other groups than to the other `waxy caps'. This would mean that the bright colors and waxy gills have evolved separately across different groups of mushrooms.
Genera: Hygrophorus, Hygrocybe, Camarophyllus
Pink Spores and Worm Eaters
There are three mushroom families included on this table. Traditionally, these three groups have not been seen as particularly closely related. However, recent genetic evidence indicates that along with the Amanitas, they form an evolutionary group more closely related to each other than to the rest of the mushrooms in the fair.
The first family, Entolomataceae, has pink spores, and grows on the ground. This group includes the beautiful, blue-black Leptoniae that are rarely noticed because of their small size and dark color.
The second family, Pluteaceae, includes the genus Pluteus which, like the Oyster Mushrooms, grow on wood. It has a regular mushroom stem that grows from the center of the cap and pink spores.
The third family, Pleurotaceae, includes the popular edible, the Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus). The stem of the Oyster Mushroom is often on the side of the cap next to the tree it is growing from and the spores are white. One of the interesting things about Oyster Mushrooms is that their root systems (mycelia) make tiny traps for capturing microscopic nematode worms. Once a worm is captured, the roots grow into the worm and digest it.
Genera: Pleurotus, Hohenbuehelia, Pluteus, Volvariella, Entoloma, Nolanea, Leptonia, Inocephalus, Alboleptonia, Clitopilus
The Amanitas include many of the deadliest mushrooms like the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) and the Destroying Angel (Amanita ocreata). The group also includes some excellent edibles like the Springtime Amanita (Amanita velosa) and the Coccora (Amanita lanei). However, beginners are best advised to learn this group and avoid them until they can be taught by experienced experts how to pick out the good ones.
The special features of this group include the light spore print, gills that don't quite connect to the stem, and a thick coating or sheath call the Universal Veil that surrounds the mushroom when it is young. When the mushroom gets older remains of the Universal Veil can often been seen in at the base of the stem as a set of collars or a sack and on top of the mushroom as a patch or dots.
Genera: Amanita, Limacella
Light Spored Grab Bag
This group includes a broad range of different light spored mushrooms. It includes several popular edibles like the Matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare), the Blewit (Lepista nuda) and the Fairy Ring Mushroom (Marasmius oreades). It also includes many toxic species like the Sweat-Producing Clitocybe (Clitocybe dealbata) and the Tiger Tricholoma (Tricholoma pardinum). The actual evolutionary relationships between the genera in this group are poorly understood and significant changes in these groups are likely as more genetic research is done.
Genera: Armillaria, Caulorhiza, Clitocybe, Collybia, Flammulina, Floccularia, Gymnopus, Lepista, Leucopaxillus, Lyophyllum, Macrocystidia, Marasmiellus, Marasmius, Melanoleuca, Micromphale, Mycena, Pseudoclitocybe, Rhodocollybia, Strobilurus, Tricholoma, Tricholomopsis, Xeromphalina
The Dark-Spored Mushrooms
This table contains most of the mushrooms which have dark colored spores*. Most of the mushrooms on this table have brown or black spores. The dark spore colors are caused by pigments in the thick walls of the spore. Through evolution, some of the mushrooms in this exhibit have lost the ability to produce these pigments. As a result they have light-spores. They are kept on this table because they are more closely related to these dark spored species than to the light-spored species displayed on other tables.
* Spores are the microscopic seeds of mushrooms.
The Veiled Composters include a number of popular edibles including the supermarket inhabiting Button Mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) and Portobello (also Agaricus bisporus) as well as the wild Shaggy Parasol (Macrolepiota rachodes) and almond flavored Prince (Agaricus augustus). This group also includes some deadly species like the Deadly Parasol (Lepiota josserandii).
All of these mushrooms make their living by composting dead materials. Most of them also have a ring on their stalk known as a Partial Veil. The Partial Veil covers the gills when the mushroom is young and then breaks to form the persistent ring.
Many of the mushrooms in this group are light-spored, but are believed to be more closely related to many of the dark-spored species. Recent genetic research has confirmed this for the most part. However, one of the current members of the group, Cystoderma, may soon get moved out of this group and some unexpected new members such as the Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus) may soon join.
Genera: Agaricus, Cystoderma, Lepiota, Macrolepiota, Leucoagaricus, Leucocoprinus
Dark Spored Grab Bag
Bolbitiaceae, Coprinaceae, Strophariaceae
These mushrooms are often some of the first to appear after the rains. There are a few popular edibles such as the Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus) and the Wine-Red Stropharia (Stropharia rugoso-annulata). This group also includes the most popular hallucinogenic species (Psilocybe and Panaeolus).
Genera: Agrocybe, Bolbitius, Conocybe, Coprinus, Psathyrella, Hypholoma, Panaeolus, Pholiota, Psilocybe, Stropharia
The mushrooms in this group generally have a spider-web-like material running from the edge of the cap to the stem when they are young. This material is called a cortina. None of the mushrooms in this group that occur in Santa Cruz are considered edible and several of them are quite toxic. Some of the toxins are cummulative and slowly destroy the kidneys. However, a number of these mushrooms produce excellent dyes for yarn and cloth.
The exact relationships between these species and those in the Agaricales is not well understood and is a matter of current scientific research.
Genera: Cortinarius, Dermocybe, Galerina, Gymnopilus, Hebeloma, Inocybe, Naucoria, Phaeocollybia, Crepidotus, Tubaria, Laccaria
The Boletes include some of the most sought after mushrooms, collectively known as Porcini, Ceps or King Boletes. In California there are at least five distinct species that are collected under these names. One of the nice things about the Boletes is that none of them are deadly poisonous and even the few that will make you ill are so bitter you would probably never manage to eat more than a mouthful or two.
Originally, the Boletes were recognized as a separate group because many of them have pores instead of gills underneath the cap and they don't tend to last very long. As microscopic features began to gain more weight with scientists, some of the gilled species were recognized as being part of the same group. Recent genetic work has supported this change.
Genera: Boletus, Leccinum, Pulveroboletus, Suillus, Chroogomphus, Gomphidius, Hygrophoropsis, Omphalotus, Paxillus, Rhizopogon, Chalciporus, Tylopilus, Phylloporus, Xerocomus
This table contains some of the weirder mushroom species. The groups of mushrooms on this table are not themselves closely related to each other. For example, the group called Ascomycota are more closely related to yeast than all the other mushrooms in the fair. On the other hand, recent evidence indicates that some of the puffballs (Lycoperdales) are closely related to the Agaricus and Lepiota species on the Dark Spored Table.
Some of the mushrooms on this table, like the Russulas, look like the gilled mushrooms on other tables, but they have been evolving separately for a long time and may have developed their gills separately from the other mushrooms.
Brittle Fleshed Fungi
All of these mushrooms have special structures in their flesh that make them brittle. The group includes some excellent edibles such as the Shrimp Russula (Russula xerampelina), which should be eaten young before it becomes mealy and the Candy Cap (Lactarius rubidus), which is usually dried to heighten its maple flavor and used in desserts.
The mushrooms in this group are all closely related. The two main genera, Russula and Lactarius, have traditionally be split based on whether or not the broken flesh exudes a milk like liquid (Lactarius). Recent research has shown that some of the Russulas are better classified as Lactarius species that have lost their milk.
Genera: Arcangeliella, Lactarius, Russula
Chanterelles, Corals and Teeth
Cantharellales, Gomphales, Hericiales, Thelephorales
Many popular edibles are included in this group such as the Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius), the Black Chanterelle (Craterellus cornucopioides), the Hedgehog (Hydnum umbilicatum), the Cauliflower Mushroom (Sparassis crispa) and the Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus). While these mushrooms appear very different from each other and some of them even appear to be gilled mushrooms, they are fairly closely related. The gill-like folds under the Chanterelles caps evolved separately from the true gills seen on other mushrooms in the fair.
Genera: Cantharellus, Clavaria, Clavulinopsis, Ramariopsis, Clavariadelphus, Clavulina, Craterellus, Hydnum, Albatrellus, Sparassis, Gomphus, Lentaria, Ramaria, Auriscalpium, Clavicorona, Hericium, Lentinellus, Phellodon, Boletopsis, Hydnellum, Sarcodon, Thelephora
Jellies, Puffballs and Slimes
Dacrymycetales, Tremellales, Lycoperdales,
Nidulariales, Sclerodermatales, Tulostomatales,
This display includes a broad range of only distantly related, but unusual looking fungi. Some of them, the Slime Molds, are not even official members of the kingdom Fungi but instead are classified as members of the typically microscopic kingdom of Protozoa. On the other hand, some of the puffballs (the Sclerodermatales) are probably closely related to the boletes while others (the Lycoperdales) are closer to the gilled genera Agaricus and Lepiota.
Genera: Calocera, Exidia, Pseudohydnum, Tremella, Tremellodendropsis, Geastrum, Bovista, Calvatia, Lycoperdon, Cyathus, Nidula, Astraeus, Pisolithus, Scleroderma, Sphaerobolus, Battarrea, Tulostoma, Lycogala
Fistulinales, Ganodermatales, Hymenochaetales,
Poriales, Schizophyllales, Stereales
The mushrooms in this display all grow on wood and help decompose dead or dying trees. Many of them live year after year slowly growing on the side of log or diseased tree. In general they have a shelf-like shape. They include some of the most revered medicinal mushrooms like the Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum).
Because of their effect on lumber, the timber industry has supported a significant amount of research on these mushrooms. Scientists have found that while these mushrooms often look similar they often are not very closely related to each other.
Genera: Fistulina, Ganoderma, Coltricia, Inonotus, Phellinus, Bjerkandera, Ceriporia, Cryptoporus, Daedalea, Datronia, Fomitopsis, Laetiporus, Lenzites, Phaeolus, Poria, Trametes, Trichaptum, Tyromyces, Lentinus, Panus, Phyllotopsis, Polyporus, Schizophyllum, Chondrostereum, Merulius, Phlebia, Stereum
Spores in a Sack
The Ascomycota are a large and diverse group of mushrooms that are separate from all the other mushrooms in the fair. They create their spores in special microscopic sacks called asci. They include the wonderful edible Morel (Morchella spp.) and the highly prized truffle (Tuber spp.) as well as some poisonous species like Gyromitra infula.
Genera: Hypomyces, Nectriopsis, Trichoglossum, Bisporella, Bulgaria, Leotia, Gyromitra, Helvella, Disciotis, Morchella, Aleuria, Otidea, Scutellinia, Sowerbyella, Peziza, Pyronema, Sarcoscypha, Sarcosoma, Daldinia, Xylaria
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