Most of January has been dry. The rain total this month is just under 3 inches, but almost all of this month’s precipitation fell during two brief storms, and it’s a far cry from the 8 inches that fell last January. With the exception of yesterday’s storm, for most of the last few weeks it’s been dry, sunny, and wonderfully warm for the middle of winter. Not that I’m complaining, we should all have such problems, but it is making finding fungus for Mushroom Mondays somewhat challenging.
Despite the beautiful weather, this morning’s hike did yield a species that I haven’t seen here before.
Clavulinopsis laeticolor is a type of club fungus. The fruiting bodies of this specimen were spied just below a live oak, but initially I missed it. My attention wasn’t drawn to their yellow color…but rather to this yellow object instead.
Once I crouched down close to the ground though I realized this Banana Slug was mere inches from this similarly colored fungus.
This tiny species is widely distributed across North America, Asia and Europe, and may be seen in summer and fall, or in winter in warmer climates.
Clavulinopsis laeticolor tends to grow singly, or in sparse loose clusters in mid to late winter. Despite its bright color, its tiny size means it doesn’t hold much presence amid the drab browns and greens of the forest floor.
This is a helpful distinguishing feature, as its similar appearing cousin, Clavulinopsis fusiformis, does grow in tight dense clusters, standing out more readily amidst its less vibrant neighbors.
The fruiting bodies of Clavulinopsis laeticolor are orange-yellow in color, and generally cylindrical in shape. Unlike some species of club and coral fungi, there is no branching, although the fruiting bodies may be grooved longitudinally or even somewhat twisted in form.
This fungus grows between 1-7 cm in height, but less than 5 mm in width. Due to its diminutive size, and bitter taste, Clavulinopsis laeticolor is considered inedible.
Hopefully, yesterday’s wet weather will bring forth another fungus worthy of featuring next Monday. In the meantime, the orchard, gardens and weeds beckon.