The Varnish Shelf Fungus (Ganoderma tsugae) is found locally on dead hemlock trees and stumps. This fungus starts out as a knoblike protrusion and develops into a fan-shaped “shelf.” Later the upper surface of the shelf becomes shining red, appearing as though varnished. In time the red becomes more of an orange-red.
A close observer may be lucky enough to find a little beetle feeding on this fungus. The beetle (Megalodacne heros) has an amazing protective color adaptation and can be seen in the lower picture. [See also further discussion.]
Hemlock trees are found in the Dan River region on a few north-facing woodland slopes, usually at a river bend. Fortunately, many young hemlock are developing at these sites.
Copyright © 2001–2002 William T. Hathaway.