Good morning team, this week's mushroom is Trametes conchifer. Eric found it this Friday, 3/26/2021, and I have a couple pictures of the same species from 3/23/2021. I was hoping to find mushrooms fruiting this past week with the rain and warming cycles, but I've seen T. conchifer popping up for a few weeks now. T. conchifer fruits spring through fall and the sexual fruiting bodies can be seen year-round. It is found east of the Rockies and is likely found in Europe and Asia as well. It's frequently found on elm (Ulmus) - like the specimens featured here - but grows on a variety of hardwoods.
This mushroom has a fascinating spore dispersal method. Both the pictures Eric and I included are young body morphs of the mushroom. They grow in this cup shape because it allows them to catch rain drops that will assist in spore dispersal - similar to bird's nest fungus (see video at bottom). Even more interestingly, the spores dispersed at this juvenile stage of the mushroom's life are asexual. Further along in the spring it will develop a sexual fruiting body - a more traditional looking cap like the Trametes that have been featured previously - and disperse spores born of sexual reproduction. It's fascinating that T. conchifer can produce both asexual spores (genetic clones of the fungus) and sexual spores (genetically unique from the fungi). Quite the evolutionary advantage. I'm holding on to some T. conchifer and will send pictures when the sexual body morph forms.
Here is a short video on how bird's nest fungi (gastromycetes) disperse spores in rain: Evolutionary Masterpieces: The Bird's Nest Fungi - YouTube.
While the background music may not seem appropriate for the video, I think it works as we're all searching for our own Nirvana on this blustery Monday morning.
Have a beautiful week,
PS. I included Eric's photo because it's better than the two I took.