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2006 Inventory of Fungi found in Cold Creek Conservation Area

The Cold Creek Conservation Area includes a number of ecologically interesting ecosystems, which include within the main valley system, coniferous and mixed wooded swamp ecosystems and smaller areas of bog communities.  These communities contain several trees and shrubs found more commonly in northern parts of the Province.  The valley slopes and adjacent rolling tablelands (kame), include areas of mature deciduous, mixed and hemlock woodlands.  Coniferous plantations, extensive grasslands and marsh ecosystems are also represented.

The Mycological Society of Toronto (MST) was given approval to make an inventory of the fungi occurring in the Conservation Area.  Surveys were carried out in summer and fall during 2006 by MST, and were organized by Dr John Sparling and Alan Gan with the assistance of Tony Wright and Vito Testa.  The Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) maintains a no-picking fungi policy for its properties.  Specific identification often requires microscopic examination, and picking for identification was permitted for the purpose of this inventory.

Fungi form an extremely varied group, and have in the last century been classified often with plants; however, extensive biochemical work augmented by DNA analyses now places them in an entirely separate Kingdom. Fungi have closer but remote affinities with the Animal Kingdom.

Fungi play a number of key roles in different ecosystems.  One is in the breakdown and recycling of nutrients from vegetation, especially the lignin and cellulose components of wood.  Fungi are essentially the only group of organisms capable of breaking down lignin and releasing contained nutrients to the soil.  Other saprophytic and parasitic fungi perform similar roles.  In addition, many fungi are essential for the growth and health of plants. They form mycorrhizal associations with plants, especially shrubs and trees, in which the fungal hyphae form a covering over growing roots, and also extend far into the soil.  The mycorrhizal association facilitates both water and nutrient uptake by the host.  Without this close mycorrhizal association with fungi, many plants would grow poorly.

Fungi are central to entire ecosystem function providing food for larger animals and birds, while many litter and wood inhabiting invertebrates depend on fungi using either the fruiting body or grazing on hyphae growing in the soil or rotting wood.  These species are important food sources for several mammals and birds.

The inventory of species found in Cold Creek CA is provided below.  Many fungi have no common name and so are generally referred to by its binomial.  We have suggested common names for some common fungi that have been taken from those found in field guides.  The fungi are arranged in groups generally following that of Lamoureux (2000)

1. Myxostelida - The Slime Moulds

The Slime Moulds have until a number of years ago been grouped as part of the fungi; however, they are now placed in their own Phylum and are part of another Kingdom that includes the protozoa.  Mycologists have generally studied these organisms, and continue to do so. They produce spores similar to fungi, and these on germination produce an amoeboid single-celled myxamoeba.  At this stage, slime moulds engulf bacteria and other small food fragments.  Compatible myxamoeba may fuse and continue to grow as a multinucleate plasmodium.  This plasmodium is capable of moving over a surface, and will undergo a spectacular transformation in which the plasmodium will come together and rapidly form fruiting bodies.  The fruiting bodies of six species were found during the forays.

  • Hemitrichia sp.
  • Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa (Coral Slime)
  • Fuligo septica (Scrambled Egg Slime)
  • Lycogala epidendrum (Wolf’s Milk Slime)
  • Arcyria nutans (Candy Slime)
  • Stemonitis axifera

True Fungi

2. Ascomycetes - Cup Fungi

The Cup Fungi are so called because they produce spores from an open cup-like, flask-like or closed structure called an apothecium.  This may be small or large depending on the species.  Many are brightly coloured, such as orange, red, black, blue-green, but others are various shades of brown or greyish and merge in with the soil or litter colour.  The cup or apothecium contains large numbers of asci each with 8 or 16, sometimes many more spores.  Among the cup fungi are several kinds of morel; these were not encountered since they fruit earlier in the spring.

  • Apiosporina morbosa (Cherry Black Knot)
  • Bisporella citrina (Yellow Fairy Cups)
  • Chlorociboria aeruginescens (Blue-stain Fungus)
  • Helvella crispa (Fluted White Helvella)
  • Helvella lacunosa (Fluted Black Helvella)
  • Leotia lubrica (Yellow Jelly Club)
  • Peziza badio-confusa (Common Brown Cup)
  • Rhytisma acerinum (Maple Tar Spot)
  • Scutellinia scutellata (Eyelash Cup)
  • Underwoodia columnaris (Underwoodia)
  • Ustulina deusta (Carbon Cushion)
  • Xylaria hypoxylon (Carbon Antlers)
  • Xylaria longipes (Dead Moll’s Fingers)
  • Xylaria polymorpha (Dead Man’s Fingers)

3. Basidiomycetes - Jelly Fungi

Basidiomycetes include the jelly fungi, coral fungi, polypores and mushrooms.  Jelly fungi are gelatinous in texture, and vary in colour from white, bright yellow, shades of mauve to black.  The spores are born of surficial cells called basidia.  Generally four spores are formed on stalks from the top of the basidia.  Only one species was found Dacrymyces palmatus  (Orange Jelly)

4. Basidiomycetes - Polypores and Similar Fungi

The Polypores include the bracket fungi in which spores are produced either from pores or, in some cases, from folds covering the undersides of the fruiting body.  The spores are released inside the pores from specialized hyphae called basidia, and are dispersed downwards where they are carried by air currents.  Polypores vary in size from less than one cm wide to some which extend to nearly a metre.  Many of the bracket fungi are parasitic and can kill their host.  Piptoporus grows on dead and senescent birch trees.  Several, such as Trametes live on dead wood.  Many species of polypore live on trees or shrubs for many years without killing them.   They are important contributors to the break down of wood in the forest and the recycling of nutrients as well as soil improvement.  Mostly, polypores have a hard or corky structure.  A large variety of species were found at Cold Creek, including three species of Ganoderma.

  • Bjerkandera adusta (Smoky Polypore)
  • Cerrena unicolor
  • Daedalopsis confragosa (Maze Polypore)
  • Fomes fomentarius (Tinder Polypore)
  • Fomitopsis pinicolor (Red-banded Polypore)
  • Ganoderma applanatum (Artist’s Conk)
  • Ganoderma lucidum (Lacquered Polypore)
  • Ganoderma tsugi (Hemlock Varnish Polypore)
  • Gloeophyllum sepiarium (Yellow-red Gill Polypore)
  • Irpex lacteus (Milk-white Tooth Polypore)
  • Ischnoderma resinosum (Late Fall Polypore)
  • Oligoporus chioneus (White Cheese Polypore)
  • Oxyporus populinus (Mossy Maple Polypore)
  • Phlebia tremellosa (Jelly Phlebia)
  • Piptoporus betulinus (Birch Polypore)
  • Plicaturopsis crispa (Crimped Gill)
  • Polyporus arcularius (Spring Polypore)
  • Polyporus badius (Black-footed Polypore)
  • Polyporus brumalis (Winter Polypore)
  • Polyporus elegans (Elegant Polypore)
  • Polyporus mori
  • Polyporus squamosus (Dryad’s Saddle)
  • Polyporus varius (Black-footed Polypore)
  • Schizophyllum commune (Split Gill)
  • Stereum hirsuta
  • Stereum ostrea (False Turkey-tail)
  • Trametes elegans (Elegant Bracket)
  • Trametes gibbosa
  • Trametes hirsuta
  • Trametes pubescens (Pale Polypore)
  • Trametes versicolor (Turkey-tail)
  • Trichaptum abietinum (Violet-toothed Polypore)
  • Tyromyces caesius (Blue Cheese Polypore)
  • Tyromyces fragilis

5. Basidiomycetes - Tooth Fungi

The spore-bearing surface in these fungi consists of conical teeth on the underside of the fruiting.  Some species are hard and corky, while others, including those found on the forays, were delicate and pale in colour.  They are a heterogeneous group and the dispersal method appears to have evolved several times

  • Hericium coralloides (Comb Tooth)
  • Hydnum repandum (Sweet Tooth)

6. Basidiomycetes -  Coral and Club Fungi

These fungi grow on the soil or on well-rotted logs.  They may be unbranched or repeatedly branched, and the species range in colour from pure white, yellow, pale pinkish-brown or purple.  Spores are produced from the upper portion of the fungus.

  • Clavicorona pyxidata (Crown-tipped Coral)
  • Ramaria concolor
  • Ramaria sp. (Branched Coral)

7. Basidiomycetes - Chanterelles and Allies

This family includes some of the choice edible fungi such as the ‘Chanterelles’ and the ‘Horn of Plenty’ Species are more frequently found during the summer.  The spores develop on folds on the outer surface.  The folds resemble true gills but are developed differently.   The Chanterelles are highly prized, and often the focus of haut cuisine.  They are generally yellow or pale in colour, but some, such as Craterellus, which was not found, may be almost black.

  • Cantharellus ignicolor
  • Cantharellus tubaeformis (Trumpet Chanterelle)

8. Basidiomycetes - Oyster Mushrooms and Allies

These are gilled mushrooms resembling bracket fungi, and they fruit shelving on wood.  They play an important role in nutrient recycling.  Phyllotopsis nidulans is quite common, a gilled bracket fungi having a strong coal-tar odour.   There are several other common species not yet found in Cold Creek.

  • Panellus stipticus (Bitter Oyster)
  • Phyllotopsis nidulans

9. Basidiomycetes - Waxycaps

Fungi in this mainly mycorrhizal family are often bright scarlet, red or yellow.  The Parrot Waxycap, Hygocybe psittacina, is quite spectacular being bright green when young.  All appear waxy to the touch, hence their common name.

  • Hygrocybe cantharellus
  • Hygrocybe conica (Conic Waxycap)
  • Hygrocybe flavescens (Golden Waxycap)
  • Hygrocybe miniata (Vermilion Waxycap)
  • Hygrocybe niveus (Snowy Waxycap)
  • Hygrocybe psittacina (Parrot Waxycap)
  • Hygrocybe punicea (Sticky-cap Scarlet Waxycap)
  • Hygrophorus pratensis

10. Basidiomycetes - Tricolomataceae

This is a large and diverse family of white-spored mushrooms.  It includes the Honey Mushroom, Armillaria mellea complex, a good edible and an aggressive fungal parasite of trees. 

  • Armillaria ostoyae (Honey Mushroom) (one species in the mellea complex)
  • Clitocybe gibba (Forest Funnelcap)
  • Clitocybe robusta (Robust Funnelcap)
  • Hypsizygus tessulatus (Elm Oyster)
  • Laccaria lacata (Deceiver)
  • Lyophyllum decastes (Fried Chicken Mushroom)
  • Tricholoma aurantium (Golden Tricholoma)
  • Tricholoma magnivelare
  • Tricholoma myomyces (Mouse Tricholoma)
  • Tricholoma vaccinum

11. Basidiomycetes - Collybias, Mycenas and Others

This group includes many of the more fragile fungi such as those in the genus Mycena, and also in Marasmius, interesting fungi that dry up during dry periods, and revive completely following the next rainfall.  Many in this group are delicate with light shades of pink, brown or yellows.  Included are several that are choice edibles such as the fungus ‘Enoki-take’ or Velvet Stalk, Flammulina velutipes.

  • Collybia butyracea (Buttery Collybia)
  • Flammulina velutipes (Velvet Stalk)
  • Gymnopus confluens
  • Marasmius rotula (Pin-wheel Marasmius)
  • Mycena haematopus (Bleeding Fairy Helmet)
  • Mycena leaiana (Golden Fairy Helmet)
  • Mycena pura (Pink Mycena)
  • Xerula furfuracea (Deep Root)
  • Xerula megalospora

12. Basidiomycetes - Cortinariaceae

This family includes the Deadly Galerina that fruits on decaying logs contains similar amatoxins to those found in Amanita spp., and which are responsible for many human fatalities from eating fungi.  It also includes some poisonous brown-spored mushrooms including some that do not cause gastric upsets, but affect other body organs.  Several are common in the Cold Creek CA.  No mushroom is poisonous by simply touching the surface only by ingestion.  Cortinarius spp. are difficult to identify to species without a full range of fresh specimens.

  • Cortinarius alboviolaceus (Pale-violet Cort)
  • Cortinarius spp. (Corts)
  • Crepidotus mollis (Brown Crep)
  • Galerina autumnalis (Deadly Galerina)
  • Inocybe fastigiata (Conic Fibrehead)
  • Inocybe geophylla (Earth Blade Fibrehead)
  • Inocybe sororia

13. Basidiomycetes - Agrocybes

None has been encountered so far during the visits to Cold Creek.

14. Basidiomycetes - Pholiota and Allies

These are large and often spectacular fungi growing in large clumps on the sides of trees. They are yellowish to brown in colour and many have a viscid cap.

  • Pholiota aurivella (Golden Scalecap)
  • Pholiota malicola (Smooth Scalecap)

15. Basidiomycetes - Coprinus and Allies

The Ink Caps:  These are black-spored mushroom which when fresh are good edibles; however the gills quickly decay to a black liquid.  This specialization allows for the progressive exposure of spores, thus the later developing spores are exposed and are dispersed.  Dispersal is also accomplished by contact with animals.  Many are common on soils rich in humus material, including dung.

  • Coprinellus disseminatus (Crumble Cap)
  • Coprinellus micaceus (Mica Cap)
  • Coprinopsis atramentaria (Alcohol Ink Cap)
  • Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Mane
  • Parasola plicatilis (Japanese Umbrella Ink Cap)
  • Psathyrella velutina
  • Psathyrella spp. (Psathyrellas)

16. Basidiomycetes - Agaricus, Lepiota and Allies

This group includes the common store-bought mushroom, Agaricus bisporus or A. brunnescens, as well as several field and woodland mushrooms. It also includes members of the genus Lepiota which includes several very poisonous species, one of which was implicated in a death recently in Toronto.

  • Agaricus arvensis (Horse Mushroom)
  • Agaricus campestris (Meadow Mushroom)
  • Agaricus diminutivus
  • Agaricus silvicola
  • Lepiota acutaesquamosa (Sharp-scaled Parasol)
  • Leucoagaricus naucinus (Smooth Parasol)

17. Basidiomycetes - Pluteus and Allies

This group includes those gill fungi that produce pink spores.  Most have a stalk and cap as with other mushrooms but there are species appearing like a bracket fungus but with gills rather than pores.  The group includes both edible and poisonous species.  Common in our area is the Deer Mushroom which fruits on rotted wood.

  • Pluteus cervinus (Deer Mushroom)

18. Basidiomycetes - Amanita and Allies

These white-spored mushrooms include the Death Caps and the Destroying Angel, which are among the most deadly fungi. Amanitas generally have a ring, and also a basal volva. The volva may not always be obvious so the base of the mushroom needs to be examined very closely.  The family includes some of the most important mycorrhizal fungi, which are essential for a healthy forest.

  • Amanita bisporigera (Two-spored Destroying Angel)
  • Amanita citrina (False Death Cap)
  • Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric)

19. Basidiomycetes - Entolomas

These are pink spored mushroom, which when fresh show colouration distinctive of the species, these may be blue-black, violet, iridescent green, salmon pinks and yellow-green Some species are quite common.  Many are poisonous, but they make up for this in their beauty.  One species encountered was the Aborted Entoloma which is non-poisonous and frequently eaten in its aborted form as ‘Hunters’ Hearts’.  They are important mycorrhizal fungi.

  • Entoloma abortivum (Aborted Entoloma)
  • Leptonia corvina
  • Nolanea salmonea (Salmon-coloured Nolanea)

20. Basidiomycetes - Lactarius and Russula

These two genera, although appearing similar, are only distantly related to other mushrooms.  Lactarius include fungi that produce milk when the gills or stalk are cut.  The colour of the milk, and whether it changes colour or not are important diagnostic feature.  Russula species, although closely related to Lactarius, are quite different, and do not produce milk.  Many have richly coloured caps that contrasts with the pure white of the flesh. Another feature is the stalk which when bent breaks like a stick of chalk.

  • Lactarius deterrimus (Delicious Lactarius)
  • Lactarius rufus
  • Lactarius subpurpureus
  • Lactarius theiogalus
  • Lactarius thyinos
  • Russula aeruginea
  • Russula emetica (Emetic Russula)
  • Russula fragilis (Fragile Russula)
  • Russula silvicola (Woodland Russula)

21. Basidiomycetes - Paxillus and Allies

Some members of this family form a symbiotic relationship with conifers.  Several species have been used as a dye for clothing.  Some are regarded as edible, however, others may affect the blood and immune systems.

  • Paxillus atrotomentosus (Velvet-stalked Pax)

22. Basidiomycetes - Boletes and Allies

This is another important family that form mycorrhizal associations with forest trees.  These are large mushrooms with pores on the undersides rather than gills.  Almost all are edible although some should be avoided since they cause gastric upsets.  Species with reddish stalks and pores, such as Boletus satanus are very suspect.  On the other hand Boletus edulis is the famous edible ‘Cep’ of European cuisine.  The group is an important food source for squirrels and woodland mice, as well as slugs, millipedes and other woodland invertebrates.

  • Boletinellus merulioides (Ash Bolete)
  • Boletopsis subsquamosa
  • Leccinum scabrum (Birch Bolete)
  • Suillus granulatus (Granular-dotted Bolete)
  • Suillus pictus (Painted Bolete)
  • Tylopilus ferrugineus

23. Basidiomycetes - Gasteromycetes

This is a heterogeneous group of fungi, once conveniently linked together by their general appearance and form.  They include the Puffballs, Earthballs, Earth Stars, Stinkhorns, and Bird’s Nest fungi.  The following five species were encountered during the 2006 forays.

  • Calvatia cyathiformis
  • Cyathus stercoreus (Blue-black Bird’s Nest)
  • Geastrum quadrifidum (Four-armed Earthstar)
  • Lycoperdon perlatum (Gem-studded Puffball)
  • Lycoperdon pyriforme (Pear-shaped Puffball)


This inventory confirms that there is a high diversity of fungi in Cold Creek.  The inventory includes approximately 140 species.  There was fairly good representation in the Ascomycetes, Mycena spp., and Boletes, however there were a number of species expected which were not found.  It is likely that these would be encountered if the inventory were continued for a further year.

The presence of a number of Agaricus was interesting, and perhaps related to the grassland communities following previous agriculture.

John Sparling
Mycological Society of Toronto