Until I started looking carefully at the mushrooms in the yard, I thought that gills were a prerequisite part of mushroom anatomy. Quite a few of the ones around my house, however, had holes under the caps instead of gills. By doing a little research, I found out that there is, indeed, a second category of mushrooms with caps that distribute spores by way of tubes or pores instead of gills. I can be forgiven, though, for being unaware of this wrinkle in mushroom taxonomy and anatomy: Agariclaes, or gilled mushrooms, number some 13,000 species worldwide, while the order Boletales, which has been used to classify mushrooms with pores, contains closer to 1,300 species. In other words, there are ten times the number of gilled mushrooms than mushrooms with pores and, in fact, some of those in the Boletales order have recently been discovered to be improperly categorized and are different on a molecular level than the group of mushrooms informally known as "boletes." If you take a look around, though, you might realize that there are members of the boletes family lurking about, hiding their different method of spore distribution under their caps.
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Photo by Hans Hillewaert
As in my previous post, I have made the decision to forego identifying the mushrooms pictured here. While there are far fewer boletes than gilled mushrooms, there are still sufficient numbers in my neck of the woods to make identification--with the usual need to agree with the official guides on the definitions of cap colors and textures, the examination of specimens at all stages of maturity, sniff and taste tests, examination of flesh after various degrees of abuse, and of course the indispensable spore prints--not worth the effort. There seem to be two particular body types among boletes: those like the one pictured at left, with a thick, bulbous stalk and rounded, proportionally small cap, and the ones I found, which tend to have relatively slender stalks and flat caps. I'd like to note that all of the mushrooms shown here were photographed in my own yard, that they seem particularly popular with the local squirrels, and that they are listed below in no particular order.
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|This orange species starts of quite rounded when it emerges from the ground...|
|…but becomes more irregular in shape as it ages. The oldest one in this grouping has developed quite the fancy frill in its old age. They seem to top out at about three inches in diameter.|
|I upended one of the mushrooms in this cluster so you can see the pores.|
|While slugs might occasionally dine on the backyard boletes...|
|…they seem to be particularly popular with the local rodents.|
|These ruddy individuals, also three inches in diameter, collect pine needs on their slightly tacky caps. I'm sure (or at least as sure as I can be without spore prints) these are Suillus lakei.|
|This bolete has a particularly lumpy, irregular, and visibly textured cap.|
|If my memory serves me correctly, the cap was roughly five inches across.|
|This variety was also fairly large, perhaps as much as six inches in diameter.|
|A second member of the family emerges under the overhang of a mature specimen.|
|The substantial caps offered shelter to other mushrooms, too.|
|They looked rather like stepping stones set out in the grass before succumbing, at last, not to rot but to the lawn mower.|
|This mushroom has pores and a nice umbo, the raised bump in the center of the cap. I'm not positive if it's an immature specimen of one our front lawn boletes (perhaps the one that follows?) or is a separate species.|
|We did get several varieties of large, tan boletes in our front lawn. This one matured to have a flat top, some six inches across, and upturned edges that reveal the pores.|
|The tubes or pores containing the mushroom's spores.|
|My dog gives the mushroom a curious sniff. She was unable to determine by smell why I found it a subject of such fascination.|
|You can also see a bit of her muzzle in the background as she investigates an overturned bolete in the backyard.|
|This buff-colored variety, four inches across at the widest point, are particularly popular with the squirrels...|
|…as can be seen by the well-gnawed underside of another one that had been plucked from the ground.|
|They stand on reddish, hollow stems.|
|The bruised flesh is reddish, too, as seen here in the gouge marks left by a squirrels's incisors.|
|Another backyard specimen has a flat top in a darker shade of brown and is about three inches across.|
|With age, the edges of this variety curl increasingly over the cap.|
|And the final type: these dark brown/blackish boletes have a matte texture that looks almost velvety.|
|The mature caps are pitted both by nature and by animals bites.|
|A fly rests on the edge of exposed rosy-orange flesh.|
|The cap on the dark boletes are two and a half to three inches in diameter.|
|A Douglas-fir rises out of our front yard.|
While this is hardly a comprehensive survey of members of the Boletales, I hope it will inspire a few people to go outside and peer under the caps of the local mushrooms to see if there are any pores lurking among all the gills.
Next up: assorted fungi with neither pores nor gills!
Also, if you missed my previous post on mushrooms with gills, you can find it here.