Mushrooms are often overlooked. They are exceedingly diverse, occupy a wide range of habitats and only appear for short periods of time throughout the year. There are not a lot of people looking for them and as such our knowledge of species distributions is lacking. SWAMP has provided an opportunity to expand our knowledge of mushrooms that are unique to wetlands.
We have made some interesting discoveries:
Psathyrella typhae is a little brown mushroom that makes its living decomposing the fronds of cat-tail (Typha latifolia) and sedges (Carex sp.). It fruits in the spring at the water level. It has been found in three wetlands in the Slocan valley, Bonanza marsh and two sites near Winlaw. This is the first record for the species in BC.
Vibrissea truncorum is a tiny orange aquatic ascomycete that has previously only been documented in BC from Vancouver Island. We found it at a high elevation swamp on Slocan Ridge. It fruits on wood under water in slow moving mountain streams.
Lichenomphalia umbellifera is a basidio-lichen in which the mushroom is the reproductive stage of a fungus that is associated with a lichen. It is not necessarily exclusive to wetlands, though it has been turning up frequently in many of our sites.
This colourful mushroom is a waxy cap in the genus Hygrocybe. Waxy caps are very numerous and notoriously difficult to identify to species. This might be Hygrocybe coccineacreata or a related species. It was found fruiting on a small ‘island’ of vegetation in a swamp up in the Winlaw Creek Woodlot.
This tiny mushroom was about .5 cm tall and found fruiting on a floating stem of reed-canary grass (Phalaris arundinacae).
References for wetland fungi are scarce in general. One of the most comprehensive inventories of wetland fungi in Canada was done in the early 1980’s by Scott Redhead, a prominent Canadian mycologist and research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.
REDHEAD, S. A. 1981. Agaricales on wetland Monocotyledoneae in Canada. Can. J. Bot. 59: 574-589.
REDHEAD, S. A. 1984. Additional Agaricales on wetland Monocotyledoneae in Canada. Can. J. Bot. 62: 1844-1851.
Tyson Ehlers is a local ecologist and mushroom expert who has been working in the field with the SWAMP team. He has recently co-authored a book: Mushrooms to Look for in the Kootenays.