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Family Fun Fridays
Mushrooms & Fungi

Welcome back for another Family Fun Friday brought to you virtually by MetroParks of Butler County, Butler Soil and Water Conservation District, and Ohio State University Extension. Throughout this weekly series, we will share a topic, explore a park, create a craft, or play a game!

Nature continues to deliver the unexpected! One park visit in particular spurred today's topic with just one glance at a decaying tree! Fungi, and the mushrooms that they produce, play an important role as decomposers, especially of wood.  The process of breaking down the tough materials in the wood allows nutrients to return to the soil. 

Fun Fact: All mushrooms are fungi, but not all fungi are mushrooms. The mushroom plays the same role to fungus as a flower or fruit plays in plants.  

Note: Because some wild plants & mushrooms are poisonous, it is important not to consume any found growing naturally.  In addition, MetroParks Rules & Regulations prohibit taking any animals, amphibians & reptiles or plant material from any park area.  Please leave the things you find and observe for others to do the same. 

These four examples were all found growing on the same decaying tree.  Two have been identified. Can you help identify the other two?


Wood Ear Fungi

Wood Ear Fungi
(Auricularia Auricula)

This coppery red mushroom very commonly grows in groups on rotting wood.  It's easy to see from it's shape where it's name cam from!                                                                                                

Unknown 3

Can you identify these?

White Jelly Fungus

White Jelly Fungi
(Ductifera Pululahuana)

This mass of white jelly like growth is commonly found on well rotted logs long after the bark has disappeared. As it ages, the color changes with tints of yellow & brown or even pink & purple.

Unknown 1

How about these?

Mushrooms and fungus come in all shapes & size!  Some are the common mushroom shape we expect, while others look like something else found in nature. Here are examples of each!


White Dunce Cap

White Dunce Cap
(Conocybe Apala Albipes)

Look for this type growing in grass, leaf litter and mulch.  Be on the lookout for them in the morning after a rainfall as they don't survive past mid-afternoon on sunny days!

Birds Nest Fungus

Birds Nest Fungi

The very tiny fungi are most often found in damp, shaded areas. The structure allows for it's spread as the spores or "eggs" are splashed out of the "cups" when it rains.