Having recently decided that I couldn’t continue refering to the blue-green stained wood as “stained by some mysterious fungi”, I dug out everything I could find on Google and ended up with a boatload of pictures and, most importantly, data and contacts.
So I found out that Fine WoodWorking contributor S.Robinson actually works in the bio research field and haz specialized in the fungi that spalt or stain wood.
Wait, did I just write “haz”? Em, I think I gotta quit LOLcats >cough<
Anyway, I was all like “OMG”, grabbed all the info that I could, left my brain cells digest all that and spit out some conclusions and questions that need to be answered, along with questions I posted to Dr Spalting (great and appropriate nickname BTW).
So here comes the personal experience part that lead to the aforementioned questions: last december, during a spalted-wood hunt in the woods of my Southern France village, my sister and I stumbled upon several nice pieces of green-stained wood. Among them was an almost entirely unsuspected one: a beech trunk from a stump near which I had found my latest specimen to date last summer. One of the smallest trunks (~8 cm Ø) was calling me like “shake me baby” and I gave it a go. The highest part fell down, but it had nothing interesting. So I was left with around 4 meters of that trunk, and decided to look more closely into it (alas I didn’t think about merely removing the bark – now I know). I broke it down to its lowest part, then into several pieces, and ran into a green stained zone. Ha, that’s what I’m talking about! Now the pictures before going any further:
(there was obviously a previous colonizer in that zone of the wood, hence the black lines that herder the stain from Ca)
Said green stained zone was small, as you can see I managed to get two small chunks from the two trunk sections. Something in the 10 cm neighborhood for its length (along the trunk) and not more than 2 cm into the wood and 3 in width.
There are several things that I noticed with my finds of that day: the stain from Chlorociboria aeruginascens (I’ll call it C.a. from now on) started right under the bark, far away from the easiest ways to enter. The big stained trunk my sister found a few minutes later not far from there also had its Ca-stained zone around the center of the trunk, though it was laying on the ground under dead leaves, and infested by many other fungi (and even ants), and was completely wet and with a rather hard vinegar smell (from the decaying processes). Still, the Ca had entered it at around the same distance from the stump than the previous small find.
So, why a blog series on that matter? Well, when I get to my village next time, I will go back to that very stump and check more precisely the remaining trunks, peel off the bark of those that are blatantly dead, look for green, and if present, take a few measurements and most importantly bring the whole trunk back home (they’re not that much bigger than the whole boxwood trunks I stick into mum’s Corsa anyway) and cut evenly-spaced and numbered slices to check for other colonizations.
Dr Robinson and her teammates found out during their research that Ca is somewhat of a picky fungus that seems rather difficult to tame, if not impossible, in the lab. My idea is to let Mother Nature do it herself but with a slight help by inoculating the fungus in selected trees at what seems to be the optimal position height-wise, and see what happens next.
-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...