Fun and Unique Forest Mushrooms
Today’s post is a little different, all about fungus (and no, fungi are NOT plants!) But you might want to keep reading anyway because there are going to be lots of pretty pictures. Well, there are going to be lots of pretty pictures of mushrooms.
Yes, you heard me right….mushrooms. You might be thinking, Pictures of mushrooms? What is wrong with this woman? Mushrooms are ugly and gray and I can look at them any time in the grocery store. BUUUUUT, unless you’ve been in the woods and really SEEN the vast variety of mushrooms, you haven’t truly lived, I promise.
Just keep reading and ooh and aah over my pretty pictures. Here comes the first one…….ready?
I love the colors of this one, don’t you? So eye-catching on a dead log or in the leaf litter!
An Important Note on Mushroom Identification
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One note on my identifications: It is REALLY hard to identify mushrooms. WAAAAY harder than I thought it was going to be. Therefore, PLEASE don’t take any of my ID’s as gospel, I could be totally wrong.
The scary thing is, if you plan to eat mushrooms you find in the woods, a misidentification can be the difference between YUM! and death. I AM NOT KIDDING! Don’t ever, ever, ever eat a mushroom you find in the woods unless it’s been identified by an expert (and I’m NOT an expert)!
Here’s a field guide to mushrooms to aid in identification, if you’d like, but checking with an expert before eating is still a very good idea.
That said, here are a few more pretty pictures with my (very amateur) attempts at identification.
And just one more because I can’t resist…..
And now, I promise, this is the last one, but this is really cool….
Indian Pipe ~ Mushroom, Plant or……Blueberry?!
Knowledge bomb alert. Here it comes. Ready? The Indian pipe isn’t a mushroom or a fungus. Whaaaaat? Nope, it’s actually a “real” plant. But how can that be, you ask? It isn’t green, you say. And you are correct.
But, the Indian pipe is a plant. It is considered a saprophytic plant, which means that it takes nutrients from the roots of other plants because it can’t make its own (no chlorophyll, thus, no photosynthesis); BUT, it doesn’t harm them in the process. Pretty cool, huh?
And you know what’s even cooler? This little beauty is closely related to the blueberry! Yes, that blueberry, the one you eat (although I wouldn’t suggest eating this guy). Mind totally blown! At least mine is (although that’s not hard to do).
Mushrooms are the Good Guys in your Garden
Have you ever gone out to your garden or your yard and seen mushrooms growing, and immediately yanked them out? Please don’t. Believe it or not, they’re wonderful for your garden and your grass. Mushrooms are very like icebergs, what you see on the surface is just a tiny fraction of the real organism.
Mushrooms (and fungus in general) send out fine filaments underground called hyphae. These hyphae create channels in the soil that allow water and nutrients to reach plant roots. The plants also use these channels to send fine roots out in search of what they need.
The part you see on the surface is the reproductive body. Have you ever stepped on one of those cool puffball mushrooms that go POOF!? All the dust you see when it poofs are the spores that drift away and make more mushrooms. Cool, huh?
Further Suggested Reading
If you’re as fascinated by all things fungus as I am and would like to learn more about how they benefit the world around us, check out this book. I’ve been reading it in my spare time and it’s really interesting. Mr. Stamets is considered the world’s leading authority on this kind of stuff, and his writing style is approachable, even for someone without a lot of background in the subject.
AAAANNNDDD, since I want to leave you with something super useful, here is a link to a really good-looking cream of mushroom soup recipe. I haven’t tried this particular recipe, but it looks yummy and is without all the processed ick you get with the store-bought stuff.
Just don’t use any of those mushrooms you find in the woods. Go to the store and pick up some of the plain, gray, boring kind!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little foray into mushrooms and mushroom identification. If you’re an expert mushroom identifier and you want to challenge one (or all) of my identifications, or you just want to leave me some comment love, please do so, I’d love to hear from you!
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Some Other Crazy, Unusual Plant Posts for you
Below are some pinnable images if you have relevant Pinterest boards. Otherwise, as always, keep smiling and have a crazy organic day!