Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mushroom Odyssey

My friend Angela is a mycophile, a term I just now discovered while trying to identify some mushrooms I photographed yesterday. A mycophile just loves mushrooms. Not only does Angela spot and photograph them while hiking, she even favors them as a decorative motif in her apartment.

So it was for Angela's sake that I started paying attention to the mushrooms of the world. Now, however, I've come to find them rather fascinating in their own right -- but only as something to admire visually; when it comes to eating mushrooms, I stick with the grocery store.

At the end of my little dirt road is a small green field occupied by my favorite neighbor, a cow named Ruby. Yesterday, I noticed five different kinds of mushrooms growing at the edge of Ruby's field.

To me, five different kinds of mushrooms in such a tiny space was a noteworthy photo-op. But the neighbors seemed to think that a woman kneeling by a field photographing mushrooms was far more noteworthy. So now I've met a couple of my neighbors.

Still, the only one of these I think I can identify is the amanita muscaria, the red one.
The little faceted puffball might be the same kind, only younger. Or it might be a calbovista subsculptura.

Now that I think of it, maybe the this one is a more mature version of the amanita muscaria. Anyone know?
I think this is some kind of jelly mushroom because it was sticky and didn't have gills on its underside.

Finally, this weird one, which from the top hardly even looks like a mushroom, but underneath is clearly some sort of gilled variety.I wish I could go on a mushroom identification hike with an expert. Now must be the perfect time for such a thing. There was a mushroom fair last week in Eureka, but that was before the mushrooms of Ruby's field caught my imagination.

Mushrooms are so strange, just appearing overnight, barely connecting to the ground yet totally earthy. And I love their mysterious names, like Dead Man's Foot, Earthstar and Earth Tongue.

One mushroom, the Armillaria ostoyae (Honey mushroom) in Oregon has been identified as the world's largest living thing, covering 2,200 acres. And check out this dude in Australia with the mushroom he found.

And of course, I can't end this without mentioning, reluctantly, "the elephant in the room," psylocybin, the thing that added a characteristic sparkle to my own wilder years. Still, I can never think about the word intoxicated anymore without noticing the presence of toxic right in the middle of it.

We are the strangest creatures of all, we humans, poisoning ourselves for fun. Don't you think?


Kristen said...

Those are some truly WILD mushrooms! And now, you've got me wondering if I gaze more closely upon the ground I walk, would I find such other-worldly earthiness at my feet (to borrow your perfect description of them!). . . . And yes, it is very odd to consider what humans will do for fun, and mostly, to escape their own realities. We have the ability to really penetrate into our realities, but yet we can hardly tolerate what we so often find in our lives. . . .

(Your blog is very spontaneous delight!)

Thanks for Sharing,

Lucy said...

I went for a mushroom hike with Natalya today. We brought the dogs, and she ended up with a bunch of (she claims) edible ones. We missed you! Where have you been? Call me!

Indie said...

What?!?! Here I was at home writing about mushrooms and you guys are out there hunting for them without me? This is an outrage!

I've been in housework and laundry lockdown, but I want to make a break for it tomorrow.

Kristen, housework is the reality I can no longer face in my life. I have to get out there and have the lovely Thanksgiving break you've been wishing on me! :) I hope yours is lovely too.

Big City Poz said...

I hope this posting turns up much information about mushrooms for my practical reason. Ruby (not the cow) eats anything remotely resembling food. Lately she's even wolfed down some mushrooms and I'm wondering just how safe (or dangerous) this is.

That red one in particular makes me nervous.

Indie said...

Joe, that red one is extremely deadly. I found a lot of good information at the Sonoma County Mycology Association. They have an amazing collection of photos in addition to plenty of useful and well-organized information. http://www.somamushrooms.org/index.html

Also, my friend Lucy who commented on this thread is a major dog person who works in a vet's office. She might know a thing or two as it relates to dogs.

Indie said...

Wait, Joe, actually it was a link from SOMA that I followed to "The Fungi of California" with 3,774 photos, all grouped into basic types. Good high-res photos.

Indie said...

Here's a good site with photos of poisonous mushrooms.
"Poisonous and Hallucinogenic Mushrooms." http://academic.evergreen.edu/projects/mushrooms/phm/index.htm

mycophile said...

yes amanitas are a deadly family.

mycophile said...

most if not all amanitas are posionus