First BMS foray of the season.
5/3/09

Basically all that was found were a few Scarlet Cups and this strange looking, feather light, mushroom.  No one ever saw anything like it before.  When you poked the "cap" it released a cloud of spores, so it looked like a puffball of some sort.  It looked like one that over wintered.  One member suggested that it was a puffball which lost most of the round top.  Looking in the guide it looked like it might be an old Skull-shaped Puffball, aka Calvatia craniformis.  That stem like structure is 2.5" thick.  It is filled with brown cottony spore mass.

The spore size and shape support the ID that it is a Calvatia craniformis.

Spores basically spherical and measured about 3.5 microns.

Here is a Beech tree with some black stuff on it.

A closer look it was a burl with some kind of crusty black fungus on it.  Not Inonotus obliquus.  This might be Inonotus glomeratus as it is reported to grow on Beech. 


Here is information from the Cornel web site:
Inonotus glomeratus

Formerly Polyporus glomeratus, this fungus causes a relatively common canker rot on sugar maple. It reportedly is the most important decay fungus of sugar maple in Ontario, accounting for up to 40 percent of volume losses. It also is found on red maple and beech.  Branch stubs and wounds are the primary entry points for infection. Once the decay is advanced in the stem, the fungus produces a sterile, thick mass of tissue that spreads over the wound area or around the branch stub. This soon turns black, crusty, and cracked. The canker is irregularly shaped and generally becomes elongate with raised margins. Canker rots produce fertile fruiting bodies or conks only after the tree dies. Canker rots cannot be eliminated from the forest, but maintaining healthy and wound-free trees and removing infected ones should reduce the incidence of these diseases.
 

Did not get a good spore print from the Scarlet Cups, yet.  I scraped the surface and managed to get some spores on a slide.  Here is what they looked like.

The largest measured 27 by 11 microns.

Next day I had to scrape the cup to get spores, again. The spore on the right appears to have a sheath enclosing the entire spore.

The spore on the left appears to be entirely encased in a sheath, others appear to have partial sheaths on the ends.

 

According to Michael Kuo's site we have either Sarcoscypha dudleyi or Sarcoscypha austriaca growing in our area.  "Field guides typically treat this mushroom as "Sarcoscypha coccinea," though that species is actually found only in the Pacific Northwest. Sarcoscypha dudleyi and Sarcoscypha austriaca are the eastern species--but separating them, unfortunately, requires a microscope. "

Sarcoscypha dudleyi: Spores 25-33 x 12-14 ; elliptical, with rounded ends; typically with several to many oil droplets; when fresh, entirely sheathed. Sarcoscypha austriaca: Spores 29-36 x 12-15 ; elliptical, with slightly flattened ends; typically with several to many oil droplets; when fresh not entirely sheathed, but with small "polar caps" sheathing each end

From these descriptions, found on Kuo's site, I would say that  these slides show that both specie grow at this site.  I made an assumption that they were all of the same specie since they were collected at the same site and put them all in the same bag.  All the specimens shared their spores on the way home.  Will visit this site again and bag the specimens separately.