Welcome to the first edition of Fungi Friday here on Forest Floor Narrative! Every Friday I will post a new fungus that I’ve encountered while scouring the forest floor. Many of the featured fungi are species that exist in temperate deciduous ecosystems, because I live in Western New York and encounter them the most. There will also be fungi that I’ve encountered in tropical regions and mountain ranges during times of vacation and research.
Anthracophyllum lateritium is a smaller wood decomposing species in the family Marasmiacae. I found this small fruiting body doing research in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The genus Anthracophyllum contains ten species that are mostly found in tropical ecosystems. Parts of Southern Appalachia really do have that humid tropical vibe so it’s no surprise to find a saprotrophic species like this.
I chose this specimen as the first featured fungi because it’s an unassumingly boring brown mushroom when viewed from the top. However, once turned over, piercing red colored gills fill the eyes. This fungus is a metaphor for what I’m trying to accomplish here. At just a glance, the forest floor may seem like a slow moving, mundane place. Once it’s closely examined, its fine details are revealed and the forest floor becomes a place of wonder and delight. The forest floor is a sacred place worth preserving. The more people that revel in its uniqueness, the more protected these ecological gold mines will be.