Thanks to “leafdesigner” of Battle Ground, Washington for submitting this image via the BPotD Submissions Forum (original). leafdesigner previously submitted this image of Agaricus praeclaresquamosus – the fungus images are much appreciated!
leafdesigner writes: “This is Gomphus floccosus, a.k.a. woolly chanterelle. In the constantly shifting taxonomic landscape of mycology, I’m not absolutely certain this is the “true” G. floccosus, but it keyed out most convincingly that way. One thing for sure is that it is a relative of the true chanterelle, belonging to the Cantharellaceae family. Like that species, spore-bearing basidia are born not on true gills, but on blunted gill-like ridges that line the tissue beneath the cap. Unlike the true chanterelle, this species is not generally considered edible. It is, in fact, listed as poisonous in some field guides. This photo was taken in November of 2004, in Multnomah County, Oregon.”
Shifting taxonomy of mycology indeed! I did a little digging to see how much things have shifted – wow! The taxonomic information alluded to by leafdesigner above has essentially been turned on its head in the past two years. As Michael Kuo notes in The Genus Gomphus, a DNA study is now suggesting that despite a morphological resemblance to chanterelles, this genus of fungi instead seems to be more closely related to the stinkhorns and earthstars (reference information available on the Gomphus page). Once again, DNA analysis pulls the rug out from under the feet of decades of conventional thought; it turns certainties into opportunities for re-examination and a more nuanced understanding.
Despite an increasing reliance on DNA sequencing to expand comprehension of organism relationships and evolution, an understanding of its limits is also being articulated and discussed. This is a topic I will return to another day, hopefully accompanied by a photograph of one of the Vulpia (grass) species referenced in Stace, C. 2005. Plant taxonomy and biosystematics – does DNA provide all the answers? Taxon. 54(4): 999-1007).
For more information on Gomphus floccosus, see another Michael Kuo article (it leads with “You have probably met several people in your life who should have been named Gomphus Floccosus.”): Gomphus floccosus. It’s worthwhile to note that the same study that discusses the relationships of Gomphus also suggests that this particular species should be moved into its own genus, Turbinellus (as in, Turbinellus floccosus).
Botany resource link: The Rediscovery of One of Canada’s Rarest Plants: Yukon draba (Draba yukonensis Porsild), appearing in the latest issue of Botanical Electronic News. “In 2000 a very enthusiastic amateur botanist from New York City decided to come to the southwest Yukon and volunteer to look for plants on behalf of Kluane National Park & Preserve…”.