I went all summer and rarely thought about fungi. There were birds, ground squirrels, deer and wildflowers to distract me. Oh, and a couple of foxes that crossed my path every now and then, so fast that I had to pinch myself to be sure that I'd seen them. But, as the dry summer rolled along and the red dust of Howarth Park settled more heavily over rocks and shrubs something undefinable changed in the air and I found myself checking trees for signs of Inonotus hispidus, the first fungus that appears in the early fall at Howarth Park.
On September 14 my vigilance was rewarded and I spotted this beautiful hunk of burning fungus love and felt my heart go pitty-pat at the thought of more to come. I've found one other just beginning to fruit on an oak on the far side of the park from where I found this one. I'm so excited!
Inonotus hispidus is a wood rotting fungus and appears on dead or dying branches of trees, or on fallen logs. On one hand, it's sad to see it in a standing tree as it means that tree probably won't be standing for all that much longer. On the other hand, Inonotus hispidus and other wood rotters keep forests and woodlands clean by composting old, diseased wood. Although this tree will fall, the fungus will help pave the way for a new tree to sprout from this tree's acorns.
For more information visit these sites:
Forest Health Protection