The Green Stain

A fun little thing to keep an eye out for when you’re wandering through the woods:

Chlorociboria aeruginascens and Chlorociboria aeruginosa, the Green Stain Fungus.  They are the only two species in the Chlorociboria genus found in North America, and differ only by the size of their spores.

I was walking around Lake Padden a few days ago, not expecting to find much after many weeks of dry weather, when saw this, bright as a beacon in a stand of Douglas Firs:

It’s very likely that you’ve seen a Chlorociboria at some point before without knowing it.  Generally, they are less obviously fungal; the only sign of their presence in a rotting log is a beautiful bluish-green hue.  The log looks like it was dipped in ink or paint, and it stands out quite starkly against the browns and tans of the typical leaf litter.

This is the first time, actually, that I have run across the fruiting bodies of this colorful ascomycete (Ascomycota being a fungal phylum distinguished by the methods it uses to disperse spores).

Some are merely tiny cups like the ones above, and some grow fantastic little stipes to lift themselves off the log:

Not only are they a delightful color contrast to the browns and greens of the forest floor, but they are also prized by artisan woodworkers, providing a rich color for inlaying.