Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gross Stuff in the Hoh Rain Forest

As you can imagine, the Hoh Rain Forest in Washington State is a pretty wet place. This encourages the growth of some pretty nasty looking stuff. Actually, I could have named this post "Fungi of the Hoh Rain Forest", but I couldn't resist throwing in this other gross picture, of a Banana Slug. Check out that nostril!

The field guides say that this slug got its name because it is yellow with black spots, but I think the fact that it is almost as big as a banana was part of it too. The Banana Slug is the second largest slug in the world. Pretty impressive. But what really makes the Banana Slug gross is its sexual habits.

Banana Slugs are hermaphrodites, meaning that each individual has the sexual organs of both a male and a female. They also have very long penises compared to their overall body size. When two animals with long penises get together, things sometimes get out of control, and get wrapped up and stuck where they shouldn't be. The slug's solution is to chew off the stuck penis. Scientists refer to this as "apophallation".

Now that you are completely sick to your stomach, here is something a little more fun - the Banana Slug is the official mascot of UC Santa Cruz. Click here to see him/her in action.

Now, on to the fungi.

As far as I can tell with my limited fungus identification skills, this is an Artist's Conk (Ganoderma applanatum). Here are some older ones, a little higher up on the same tree. As they get old, their bottoms get brown and shriveled, just like humans.

The white, bottom part of these fungi bruise easily, turning brown when you touch them. Some people have made a hobby out of etching pictures on these fungi, hence the name Artist's Conk ("conk" is the term for the fruiting body of a shelf fungus). Here is the website of a prolific creator of "Ganoderma Art".

This revolting mess sort of looks like an Artist's Conk as well, maybe one that is not very healthy.

Here is something a little more colorful. Again showing my limited grasp of mycology, my best guess is that this is a Ling Chih, also known as a Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum).

The ancient Chinese used these mushrooms to treat many kinds of ailments. It apparently worked so well they called it "the mushroom of immortality". You can buy it in Chinese markets in the form of candy or tea. Modern scientists are starting to study it with promising results, relearning the secrets of the ancients.

Finally, here is some gross junk that I have no idea what it is. But the two Crane Flies in the bottom of the photo seem to like it. (It is never a good sign when flies are attracted to something.) In the event that I have discovered some exotic and unknown organism, let it be known that I have dubbed it "burned marshmallow fungus", because it looks like something someone flung off their marshmallow roasting stick.


  1. I love banana slugs! We also get them up here (in Vancouver, B.C.). They're quite beautiful, I think. I like to pet them. (I know, it's weird.)

  2. And then there's The Banana Slug Band, famous for terrific children's nature songs.

  3. Banana Slugs are one of my favorites- but that is pretty obvious, isn't it, considering it is the banner for my blog!

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  5. I loved your post. Found it very interesting and the photography was excellent. I Mark Hutchinson think i saw Gross Stuff in the Forest, i remember taking a picture of it.