Funky Fungi and Lichens of the Salkantay

As creatures in the “not animals” category, fungi and lichens are another ubiquitous inhabitant along trails that don’t get enough love. But they come in some of the brightest colors and weirdest shapes, attesting to the creativity of nature’s palette. Here are some of the funkiest little fungi and lichens we encountered during our hike.

Note: I’ve made some broad attempts to identify these, but fungi can beĀ notoriously hard to pin down (even into Families) without extensive analysis of microscopic details. We didn’t have a microscope on the trail, so that’s the best I can do. That being said, if there’s a field guideĀ floating around out there that covers the fungi of the Peruvian Andes, TELL ME!!

Second note: We hiked in January (the rainy season), the abundance we saw may be due to the increased rain.

Friendly Fungi

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I’m guessing a type of Basidiomycete, perhaps an immature stinkhorn or earth star. This is one of the more unusual shapes I’ve seen for a mushroom.
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A vividly orange Ascomycete that is probably a relative of the orange peel fungus (Aleuria aurantia) we see in North America.
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A pair of young puffballs. Judging from their somewhat spiky exterior, I would guess they’re from the genus Lycoperdon.
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Small purple mushrooms found along the railway to Machu Picchu. Beyond Basidiomycota, I couldn’t tell you much else except that it seems to have fairly irregular gill formation.
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Tiny white mushrooms growing from a dead tree stump along the railway to Machu Picchu.

Loveable Lichens

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Lichens growing on a rock in the Andes; there are probably a couple of different species here, including squamulose and fruticose forms.
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An intense foliose lichen, probably of the Dictyonema genus.
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Another foliose lichen, this time growing on a tree trunk.
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An intensely orange fruticose lichen, maybe something in the genus Teloschistes

References

Wikipedia article on orange peel fungus

Wikipedia article on Puffballs

Getting to Know Lichens

Lichen Mophology

Dictyonema Wikipedia Article

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