White Toothed Tree Mushrooms

April 26, 2018

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Photographer: Patti Weeks 
Summary Author: Patti Weeks 

This white toothed, stalkless mushroom appears to be Climacodon septentrionalis, a parasitic fungus growing near the base of a hardwood tree in an eastern North Carolina urban neighborhood. Many tree mushrooms, which may be lovely sights to a passerby, are evidence to a tree expert of significant disease in the trunk or root system. Some mushrooms appear after a tree has experienced external damage, such as a lawn mower injury or even the encroachment of a curb or street; whereas some fungi can attack already internally weakened trees with no apparent wound. When there's evidence of poor health of an urban area tree, the infected tree must be removed to prevent the spread of the fungi spores by wind or insects (note the flies on the photo) and to minimize the possibility of the weakened tree toppling in wind or storm. This photo was taken September 23, 2017.

The second photo, taken four months later on January 18, 2018, shows the sawn tree trunk with conspicuous abnormal markings in the dead heartwood. The black zone lines are produced by the fungi to protect their resources from other colonizing fungi. Note that wood discoloration caused by fungi is a type of spalting. These abstract designs are sought after by woodworkers and artists in creating unique functional and decorative objects, such as bowls, guitars and furniture.

Photo Details: Top - SONY DSC-HX400V camera; 24–210 mm lens; ƒ/2.8-6.3; 20.68 mm focal length; ƒ/4 aperture; 1/125 sec. exposure time; ISO 160. Bottom: same as top except - 4.3 mm focal length; f/3.2 aperture; 1/60 sec.exposure; ISO 80. 



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