Fungi of Forest Park Nature Center
The purpose of this site is to provide a brief introduction to the diversity of mushrooms, ‘toadstools’ and other cool fungi that make FPNC their home, with the hope that this information will enrich your visit to the preserve. This site is not intended to be a guide for distinguishing edible mushrooms from poisonous ‘toadstools’ for two important reasons.
First, as a dedicated Illinois State Nature Preserve, all fungi, plants and animals living in FPNC are protected, which means that it is illegal to collect them. Secondly, for individuals seeking to learn how to distinguish edible from poisonous mushrooms, see recommended reference for edible mushrooms of Illinois below. In addition, links to websites featuring fungi of Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana have been provided in the Useful External Links section below for those interested in learning more about this subject and to draw your attention to the excellent nature photography featured on these sites.
All of the fungi included in this brief introduction were photographed in FPNC between May and October 2011. Each species is referred to by a common name followed by the scientific name in parenthesis and its nutritional mode (i.e., saprobic, parasitic, mycorrhizal). Common names provide a simple, informal way to identify a small number of mushrooms by the way they look (e.g., yellow morel, oyster mushroom, yellow chanterelle) or taste (e.g., chicken mushroom). However, because >1000 different macrofungi are estimated to make Illinois their home (http://illinoismushrooms.com/), only a tiny fraction of the species are known by common names. In contrast to plants and animals, a fair number of the >1000 mushrooms in Illinois likely represent novel, undescribed species. Biologists who specialize in the study of fungi (called mycologists) have only just begun the arduous task of determining the number of mushroom species, recording their geographic distribution, ecological associations and evolutionary relationships. Of the 1.5 million fungi estimated to inhabit our planet, only about 1% have been discovered and been given formal scientific names. So some of the scientific names used here could change, especially as DNA sequence-based studies discover novel species.
How many morels can you find in the following photo?
Most of the ~60 species of true morels (genus Morchella) fruit in the spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Five of these species are present in Illinois and other portions of Eastern North America.
Please note: Clicking on each picture below will take you to more information.
Determining spore print color is one of the keys to identifying mushrooms.
To prepare spore print, remove cap (below left) and place gills face down on white and/or black paper (below middle), cover with a bowl and let sit for 6 or more hours.
Scaly Wood Mushrooms (Agaricus cf. sylvaticus) dark brown spore print (upper right).
Deer Mushroom (Pluteus cf. cervinus) light pink spore print on black paper (upper right).
Netted Rhodotus Mushroom (Rhodotus palmatus) pinkish spore print (upper right).
Useful External Links
Illinois Mushrooms: http://illinoismushrooms.com/
Indiana Mushrooms: http://www.indianamushrooms.com/
Iowa Mushrooms: http://www.herbarium.iastate.edu/fungi/
North American Mushrooms: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/
Tom Volk’s Fungi site: http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/
Wisconsin Mushrooms: http://www.wisconsinmushrooms.com/
Recommended Reference for Edible Mushrooms of Illinois
McFarland, J., Mueller, G.M. 2009. Edible and Wild Mushrooms of Illinois & Surrounding States: A Field-to-Kitchen Guide. University of Illinois Press, Urbana.
About this Website
All of the photos were taken in Forest Park Nature Preserve between May and October 2011 by Kerry O’Donnell, Peoria, IL (firstname.lastname@example.org), who also prepared the text. All of the fungi were identified by Andy Methven, Biology Department, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL (email@example.com) and Andy Miller, Mycologist, Illinois Natural History Survey and Department of Plant Biology, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL (firstname.lastname@example.org). Sam W. Heads (email@example.com), Entomologist, Illinois Natural History Survey identified all of the insects.
This survey was conducted under the supervision of FPNC’s naturalist staff (firstname.lastname@example.org); they welcome your comments and suggestions on how this site can better serve you.