The Honies Are Out! And Some... Glow?
During yesterday's foray, Mabel and I were overwhelmed by the emergence of Armillaria Tabescens (syn. Desarmillaria Tabescens), or "Ringless Honey Mushrooms" all across the forest floor. These summer to autumn mushies typically grow in clusters and range from petite pockets of small-bodied babies to large fleshy specimens creating a big bouquet of fungi. Chances are you'll spot some soon enough, either on a forest walk or even in your front yard!
The fun thing about these fungi is that they are edible! *Though thorough cooking is recommended, as with all wild foraged mushrooms (sauté on medium heat for at least 10 minutes)* What's even more fun? Other species of honey mushrooms, have bioluminescent mycelium!
Ever heard of Foxfire? This phenomenon where wood appears to glow in the dark with a blueish-green tint is actually caused by the bioluminescent mycelium of Armillaria Mellea, common name "Honey Mushrooms"! I was so excited to learn this as I'd admired Foxfire my whole childhood. To study mycology in my adult life and realize mycelium is responsible for this beautiful occurrence just makes my heart happy!
There are many species within the Armillaria genus that are closely related, and "Ringless Honey Mushrooms" seem to be the easiest to distinguish from the others, as they're the only ones without rings on the stem (hence the common name, duh).
Ringless honey mushrooms tend to vary in size more than other mushroom's we have studied so far. As you can see from the gallery of photos, these mushrooms fruit in a variety of environments, but are saprobic and parasitic, meaning they feed off dead or living wood. If you see Ringless Honey Mushrooms popping up in grassy areas they are feeding off live or dead roots/woody debris just beneath the soil, so don't be fooled (they are not mycorrhizal)! They also love the base of trees or forest floors along root structures and rotting limbs and trunks.
As you can see from the photo below, Ringless Honey Mushrooms have a white to cream spore print. This photo was a great opportunity to capture the more mature bunch of mushrooms on the left, dropping their spores while the less mature bunch on the right hadn't quite gotten to that point in their life cycle yet. What cuties!