Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Gills, pores or spikes

The underside of your typical mushroom (with cap and stem) disperse their spores from here. They can have gills (blade like flesh), pores (small holes from the end of tubes which are hidden within the cap) or even spines (hanging spikes or teeth) from which the spores will drop. Gill attachment: Gills sometimes attach themselves to the stem and sometimes not. This is an important feature to take note of. The ‘cross-section’ diagram below illustrates the different ways gills are attached in relation to the stem:
Colour(s): What colour are the gills. This can be sometimes tricky, as colours can change duringing stages of growth (ie. young, mature, old). Look around for younger or very old (dying) examples for comparison. Does the gill colour change when marked (with a knife or finger)? Is it blotchy or speckled? Spacing: They may be crowded and fine or thicker and spaced out. Thickness/consistency: Are the gills thick or thin? Are they fragile, strong, flexible or brittle? Other: Note any extra features. For example: • They may be forked (gill ends fork out) closer to the margin. • They may produce a ‘milk-like’ substance when handled • Water droplets may be trapped between gills • Some gills attach to a circular ‘collar’ around the stem • Can they be easily peeled/removed from the stem? Pores: All of the Boletes and Polypores (bracket fungi) have pores instead of gills. These appear as small holes on the underside of the cap. Small tubes run through the cap from the felsh. • Note the pore size. Are they small and numerous in a small space of larger and wide spread. • Note the colour and if they change colour on bruising (being touched or marked) • Note if they appear as perfect circles, angular or maze-like Spikes: A relatively small group of fungi have hanging spikes (also sometimes called teeth). This is a feature instantly recognisible and can greatly narrow down identification (ie. Hedgehog fungus etc.)