Natural perfection

Out walking during a brief warm spell (above 0 F) the other day, I found an almost perfect mushroom attached to a pine tree.

It looks like a clamshell the way it is attached to the bark.

It looks like a clam shell the way it is attached to the bark. An odd little clump of snow was stuck to the top surface.  Is this two mushrooms or one?

I know nothing about fungi and can hardly put common names to even two kinds of them, but this one intrigued me because of its perfect shape.  Has it been there all winter — surely not, or it would have been torn up by animals climbing over it, or broken branches falling onto it.  If it was of relatively recent origin, can fungi actually produce such a large reproductive structure at extremely low temperatures?  I leave it to the readers (and New Hampshire Gardener, in particular) to provide us with insights.

clamshell mushroom

It’s easy to imagine how it slowly unfolded into its full shape, with crenulated lower edges that split open to release the fungal spores.

clamshell mushroom

From this angle it looks like a couple of lips protruding from the tree surface.

6 thoughts on “Natural perfection

  1. Mushrooms are fascinating and even though I know little of them, I enjoy taking pictures of them and flipping through shroom books and websites. ‘Mushroom’ by Nicholas Money is fascinating read if you have the time and inclination.

  2. I think there are at least two and maybe three mushrooms there. There are a few mushrooms that fruit late enough in the year to be considered “winter mushrooms.” Velvet shank mushroom (Flammulina velutipes) is one that comes to mind. I think if you had touched these you probably would have found them frozen solid. I just went through that myself today.

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