Protective Coloration

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The object in the center of the magnolia leaf is a mushroom resting on a lichen-covered twig. Buck and I deviated from our house-to-gate morning walking track and cut through the woods on this morning of dappled sun and cool breezes. Buck pointed to a huge old magnolia tree. Really, it was three trees grown together. A fallen log was wedged through the center of trio. It stuck out at least six feet on either end, giving the impression of a bench. We walked over to get a closer look at this curiosity and found ourselves in a magnolia grove surrounded by saplings of varying ages. We stood ankle-deep in leaf drifts.

A mottled circle  nearly covered in leaves caught my eye and I immediately became still. “Don’t move, Buck. Look where I’m looking. Is that a snake?” I watched the circle, half expecting it to move under the leaves.  We concluded it might be a mushroom, but just to be on the safe side, Buck took a long stick and nudged the object. It fell over. Mushroom. Yep. We knew it all the time. Darned unusual, though, and quite beautiful.

I didn’t have my camera, so used a magnolia leaf as a little boat to carry the mushroom back to the house. Buck spotted this patch of moss and suggested its outrageous shade of green would make a good backdrop for the photo. I think he was right. Now, the mushroom resting on the lichen-covered twig looks more like a piece of designer jewelry than a hidden snake.

Anybody know the proper name for this mushroom? (It does not have gills underneath, if that helps.)