|I was fascinated by these fungal forms on a recent hike. It looks like the start of bracket fungus.|
Yes, the big trees in the rainforest are of truly epic proportions. But just as fascinating are the smaller things that live among (and on) the giants. The varieties of fungal life in the forest provides an example of smaller life forms that make this ecosystem work.
Bracket fungus, or shelf fungus as it is also known, is a common sight in the Pacific rainforest.
|Here the smears of fungus are developing the bracket seen in the more mature form.|
Bracket fungus can be found on standing and fallen trees. If the tree is not already dead, bracket fungus can get so large as to kill the tree.
I have seen large specimens, but have never noticed small ones, or noticed how they start out.
|Several small bracket fungus hiding in the moss growing on a dead red alder.|
Fungus and other decomposers are important parts of the nutrient cycle in the rain forest, and act as Nature's recyclers. If they couldn't do their job (as is happening around the Chernobyl NPP), the system would cease to function properly.