Some Interesting Fall Mushrooms

December 6, 2016  |  Permalink

On a recent walk in Montgomery Bell State Park on the Baker’s Cemetery Trail I found beautiful shelf fungi. It was yellow and orange and growing out of a fallen oak. It is called ‘Sulfur Shelf’ or ‘Chicken of the Woods’ and it seems to only grow out of oak wood. This is a favorite edible mushroom which I have tried and I like it very much. Please do not gather it from the park so that other visitors may enjoy its aesthetic value.

I live near Montgomery Bell State Park on Turnbull Creek. Near the creek this fall I found another edible mushroom called a Giant Puffball. All puffball mushrooms are edible but the big one gives you a lot. They are only edible when they start growing, usually clean white on the outside and solid on the inside. They are called puffballs because when the spores are ready to disperse and hopefully reproduce the mushroom, they become a dry powder. A touch to the mushroom produces a ‘puff’ of the powder into the air. I visited my big puffball periodically and documented its changes in photos. The smaller ones that I see are usually on decaying Hickory wood. I am not sure what material the Giant Puffball requires to grow.

These are just a couple of the multitude of mushrooms that can be found along our trails. Yes, a few are very poisonous but many are very beautiful and it is safe to enjoy seeing them. Take a walk soon and watch for these wonders of nature.

About the author

Randy Hedgepath

Tennessee State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath is a native of west Tennessee, where his family’s farm was just 15 miles from the Tennessee River. After graduating from UT Martin and working seasonally for several years for the National Park Service and Tennessee State Parks, he has spent the last 33 years with state parks. Randy worked as a ranger/naturalist at South Cumberland State Park on the Cumberland Plateau and at Radnor Lake Natural Area in Nashville until 2007 when he was given the opportunity to be the statewide naturalist for the state park system.