Well, we’ve had a pretty good example of a drought year here in Lake of Bays and Algonquin Highlands.  The rain, when we’ve had it, has not been well-timed for the berry crops, but the mushrooms have been having a great time now that the rain and cooler weather is here!

Our Shiitakes had an amazing run this fall, as did many other Fun Guys.  The ‘Shrooming since the beginning of September has been fantastic!!

Note the buff caps, white speckled edges, and the clean, dry, fuzzy, straight stems of the Shiitake.  The caps maintain a nice curl under right up to the days of desiccation.  Shiitakes don’t look slimy.  They remain monochromatic throughout the organism.

I had a client send a set of mushroom pix to me through email this Thanksgiving weekend, wanting an ID from me, almost convinced that they were Shiitakes.

The mushrooms were growing from what seemed to be a Sugar maple stump that had been cut three inches above grade several years earlier.  The mushrooms were twisted, and grooved with smooth, shiny, beige caps, growing in dense clusters, almost like Jack-O’ Lanterns, they could’ve been Honey mushrooms (which would be why the tree needed to be taken down), but were past their prime if they were…

I didn’t have time to ID the subject specimen with any certainty as to whether or not it was edible AT ALL as I was out the door to a memorial, but I knew how to answer the question.

I hastily wrote out my cautionary observations:

Note the shiny, ‘wet’ caps and the contrast between the caps and the dark, twisty, grooved stem.  

Shiitakes are buff, dry, solid, monochromatic through cap to stem, dry, and clean. 

Cheers to a great Thanksgiving—and DON’T eat the mushrooms!


Mushroom identification takes years of study where one becomes very familiar with their fungi before any should be passed over one’s teeth.

I don’t like to I.D. any mushrooms during my botanical walks as edible, it has been a general rule of thumb for me.  I do like to point out each specimens key characteristics and encourage the group to familiarize themselves with the look, feel, and smell of each fungi we find.

Let’s run through a quick course of fall mushrooms from Botanigal’s 2016 Fall Travels… These images were taken in Algonquin Highlands, Lake of Bays, and Ottawa, as noted in the captions. 

Earth Tongue type.  Lake of Bays.
R.K. Earth Tongue SLAR 2015 IMG_1430.jpg
Golden Clustered Clubs.  Algonquin Highlands
These look a lot like Shiitakes, but they are not growing on fresh hardwood logs and have a skirt on the stem.  These are Armillaria mellea.   Lake of Bays
Coprinus genus.  Lake of Bays
This is difficult to I.D. for certain due to the lack of an under-view, very much like polished marble.   Lake of Bays
Amanita muscaria or Fly Agaric.  Lake of Bays
Orange Milk Mushroom.  Lake of Bays
These are fun!  Lake of Bays


R.K. Fungi 3 BHLR 2015 IMG_1857.jpg
I ran into a bear who was doing the same thing as I was after I took this photo—which was totally focusing on the mushrooms!!  Long-rooted Agaric (Xerula furfuracea) stems may be as long beneath the ground as you see above grade.
R.K. Laquered Polypore emerging 1 2016 Limberlost 174.jpg
Reishi (Ganoderma tsugae) is associated with Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), hence the species name.  Lake of Bays.
Stinkhorn.  Lake of Bays.
R.K. Mystery mushroom 1.jpg
Flowerpot Parasol (Leucocoprinus birnbaumii) likes houseplants
Green-headed jellybabies.  Algonquin Highlands

R.K. Slime mould SLAR 2015 IMG_1422.jpg


Slime molds are such fun!  Tremella mesenterica.  Lake of Bays and Algonquin Highlands.
Pilobolus kleinii type.   Lake of Bays
Puffball found by my pal Gillian on her way to the ‘Lil’ Girls Room’.  Ottawa.

Please read the Ottawa Citizen’s obituary for artist and naturalist John Crosby, dear father to my best friends, and a key role-model to my LOB-Ottawa pals, along with my fellow naturalists and birders.

John regularly haunted Mud Lake as long as he was able.

He was an amazing Canadian artist.

May the forest be with you Joe.

R.K. Earth Tongue SLAR 2015 IMG_1430.jpg
Can you find all of the other fungi in this photo?

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