by Brady Raymond
Right in front of me, shrouded in green embrace was the fungus. The cap was large, maybe 7 inches across and orange. It was awash in the dappled summer sunlight, warm and content but in poor health, riddled with bug holes. It was clear as I knelt down what I was dealing with, Leccinum. The scab-like netting along the stipe instantly reminded me of Leccinum scabrum a Bolete of sorts and a mushroom that I have seen many times in Seattle, around some Birch trees in backyards and other green areas while out and about.
It was the only mushroom of the day, that we saw anyway and I’m calling is Leccinum insigne. And it wasn’t until we were packing up to head back to the truck that I had noticed it, just off the bank of the rocky creek we were hiking along. We were in desert country, hot and dry even crisp but things were a bit cooler down in the shallow canyon that the creek ran through. As far as I could tell this mushroom was alone, in the arid landscape. A landscape not overly suitable for the robust fruiting bodies of mushrooms, except close to the lifeblood of the bush, water.
What the desert lacks in large fruiting fungi it makes up for in bugs. There was a breathtaking bounty of beautiful butterflies along the creek on this hike. Many of the delicate creatures landing together in large groups on the muddy ground that made up the saturated banks of the creek. From what I have read, it is thought that butterflies, particularly males, seek out the salts and possibly other minerals which may aid in reproduction. Whatever their reasoning, it was an opportunity for me to snap a few photos.