August 2, 2012

Frightening Fungus

A few days ago, we led a guided hike to Paget Lookout in Yoho Park, and on the way down, we found a great patch of mushrooms.  Our guests snapped a beautiful shot (thanks David!), and we admired the fungus.  I misidentified it as dead-man's fingers, but on checking at home, discovered that this mushroom is called “purple fairy club.”  Who knew that fairies were so vicious?

Common names are always a little problematic when it comes to mushrooms, and this species proves the point, as it is found throughout Europe.  Here's a list of the common names from both North America and across the pond:

Purple coral
Purple fairy club
Purple spindles
Purple squid mushroom
Kyjanka purpurová (Czech)
Purpurgrå køllesvamp (Danish)
Purppuranuijakkaat Purppura (Finnish)
Clavaire pourprée (French)
Purpurfarbige (German)
Gråfiolett køllesopp (Norwegian)
Goździeniec purpurowy (Polish)
Клавария пурпурная (Russian)
Kyjačik purpurový (Slovak)
Luddfingersvamp (Swedish)

Using “Google translate,” we found the following translations: “Gray-violet bat fungus”, “Lint finger fungi”, and “Kyjačik purple.”

The one thing they all agree on?  The Latin name is Alloclavaria purpurea.  The one thing we're sure of?  Learning Finnish would be very difficult.