Bioluminescence #2

After my previous post on Panellus stipticus, a bioluminescent fungus, I went out near my house and collected from 4 or 5 different locations. I took them home and set them BioLum2up like I had previous collections. Some glowed (picture to left, notice the linear effect from the top of the limb) and some did not. The second picture is the same branch in daylight. I had water sprayed all specimens and kept them together until “the viewing”. Now I’m curious about why the glowing phenomenon was selective. They were all hydrated, and (based on form and condition) they all seemed to be the same age.

Pan2The collections on old branches glowed, but the ones I had chiseled off their substrate did not (Picture #3, we viewed the gill surface also). At first I thought it may be because, for some reason, the phenomenon of glowing required being connected to the substrate and mycelial mass, assuming it is in the wood as well as the bark. Then I got a call from Don at Silver Fir Media. I had mailed him the same log I used to capture my first bioluminescence, so I knew it had worked before, but he did not get any glowing. When Don got the sample, it Pan1had been in a dark box for three days. So, I thought maybe they need light to “recharge”, because the bioluminescence is due to changes in the energy levels of electrons. To test this, I put all my currect collections, hydrated, into the sun for a day. The result was I still got the identical selective pattern of which collections glowed.

So, to date, I am mystified why or why not bioluminesence. The same old basic science questions: (1) Why here, not there? (2) Why now, not then? We shall keep on collecting and observing.

Bioluminescence – Big South Fork

charit 1

October 14, 10:00 a.m., found me standing at the trailhead to Charit Creek Lodge in the Big South Fork National Recreation Area. My mission was to locate and/or collect bioluminescent fungi for Silver Media to use in a documentary on the BSFNRA they were producing for the National Park Service.

Don O’Brien, their President and Director, had been put in contact with me last year by Matt Peterson, a former student interested in mushrooms and working at Charit Creek Lodge. I was to meet the crew that evening at the lodge and take them out for a nighttime filming.

charit bridge

There was a new moon and clear skies that night, and I thought I might find either some Honey Mushrooms, Jack O’Lanterns or Panellus stipticus for them to use. As it turns out I found some Panellus almost immediately on the hike into the gorge as well as several other locations near the lodge. Even with trail hiking and bushwhacking over 5 miles that day and the next, I never came across Jacks or Honeys,but the Panellus was sufficient.

Panellus stipticusThe picture at the left is of a collection made at the NAMA Foray two weeks before.It was quite educational observing the crew set up the photo shoot after dark, in situ, about 100 yards from the lodge. In case you are interested they used an ISO 3200 with a 24 sec exposure.



EMbiolumThe picture to the left is from the web site of Everything Mushrooms in Knoxville (click on picture to go there) which sells Panellus sawdust spawn to those who wishing to try growing their own crop of bioluminescent fungi. I will update this post with the Silver Fir Media images when they become available. What is really cool about theirs is they are in video rather than just still shots. Using a remote/programmable camera mounted on a rail track, a series of over 100 images were taken as the camera tracked. These images are then sequenced to animate a scanning image (10 sec) of the fungus colony. Some soft LED lighting was set up in the surrounding woods so that the substrate (wooden branch they were growing on) can be subtlety distinguished. It’s quite captivating.

This was an especially enjoyable adventure for me because Silver Fir Media also produced the NPS documentary on the Obed Wild and Scenic River which featured my friend Billy Bob Scarborough. My wife and I were long time open boat tandem paddlers, and Billy Bob guided our first descents on the Obed system. He also led a few  memorable trips down the Big South Fork gorge. So, the documentary brings back a lot of good memories and some not so pleasurable, but educational, like flipping at the entrance to Rocking Chair rapid on Daddy’s Creek in high water – a long and dangerous swim. We appreciate his rescue skills.


Rain – Finally

p4Yep, after many weeks it has rained, and rained, and rained, for at least 7 days. Mushrooms are everywhere. July 4th, I skipped the Saturday Market and joined he Cumberland Mycological Society for their foray at the Big South Fork National Recreation Area. Jay Justice was coming to serve as foray mycologist, and I hadn”t seen him in a while, so I drove the 4 hours round trip. What surprised me was the variety of boletes this early in the year. Jay counted at least six different genera at one point – multiple species in some. This picture is a collection of what is probably B. sensibilis, with just enough oddness to need a confirmation.





Rains bring out the oysters. The tree on the left gave up a little over two pounds on Friday. The log on the right yielded 17 pounds after culling out some slightly mature individuals. With this many, you can high-grade your harvest (there were more behind me when I took the picture). I like those nice medium size ones, and we have enjoyed several dishes of oysters and onions, with a dash of soy sauce and Worcestershire, grilled on the Big Green Egg. Served over a steak or mixed with bite size pieces of left over steak.

What to do with the Lactarius coming up? In a day or so, I’ll post Theresa Rey Ousler’s marinated Lactarius recipe, Pretty good.

chantChanterelles are hitting their stride, and are starting to peek up out of the wet hollows onto higher ground. I’ve been able to bring home around 30 pounds so far, so it’s just where you are looking. If a place looks right, based on your experience, look closely for little pinheads that say “come back later”. A good place to look for them is in patches of moss, because it holds moisture so well, and the tiny chant1yellow/orange pinheads stand out. Especially around the base of a tree or along a trail where there is exposure. Here’s the picture from  a few weeks ago showing what I mean.