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Orange Peels in the Forest?

June 10, 2013 Posted by: EH - Park Ranger (Yosemite Valley)

Hiking along a trail in the White Wolf area, to my surprise I saw an orange peel on the forest floor! Did someone litter? No, it wasn't the discarded shell from a delicious fruit we know well, but a cup-shaped fungus growing upward from the ground.

Orange peel fungus (Aleuria aurantia) usually grows in clusters on the ground, often in wooded areas near rotting trees and dead matter. They can be easy to miss, generally ranging in size from 1 to 2.5 inches (3-6 cm), but can reach up to 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. They are found throughout North America, and are common during summer and fall. This fungus is a decomposer of dead organic material, returning nutrients such as hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen back into the soil to be used by other plants.

The forest floor is "littered" with a variety of mushrooms/fungus, colorful gems dotting the ground, helping to recycle nutrients. So while out hiking, be sure to Leave No Trace, and pack out all of what you packed in, and let it be that the only orange peels in the forest will be of the fungus variety.

Orange, spherical fungus

Nature Scene, White Wolf, EH

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Did You Know?

Sierra Sweet Bay

In Wawona and downstream, the South Fork Merced River provides habitat for a rare plant, the Sierra sweet bay (Myrica hartwegii). This special status shrub is found in only five Sierra Nevada counties. In Yosemite, it occurs exclusively on sand bars and river banks along the South Fork Merced River downstream from Wawona and on Big Creek.