Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mushrooms in the backyard

A mushroom in The Woodlands apparently can be one of a wide variety of species. With the arrival of the mushroom growing season (August), I am seeing several varieties and decided to "discover" some of them. With 10000 species in North America, you can imagine how high a mountain this is to climb. To tell you the absolute truth, I got a macho notion to prepare for survival in the wilderness. I may never get out of this deep hole! Humbled beyond what I thought was possible, I now would still like to identify my first mushroom species. Who knows if any of these can be eaten? I learned to be observant when I found a "simple guide" to mushrooms got me no where. Yes, I observed what they said to observe and could not zero in on a species. Then I went back to the books and researched some more. Now I find there are 22 things I have to find out to be able to identify one1, and that may not be enough, maybe just enough to get me in the ballpark! I am lowering my expectations rapidly.

After announcing to one of my life long friends that I had a way to identify mushrooms and see if they can be eaten, he wrote back this: "I tell you what, if you will not eat that mushroom, I will take back my claim that I caught one more fish than you when we went to catch perch 50 years ago. Remember? I caught 62 and you 61?" Well, I remember that outing and maybe I can claim that I won that contest now, but somehow, that is so not filling! Wish I had that offer 50 years ago. So I let him keep his claim (it was not valid but what the heck, he told it to a million people). I tossed the specimen away and just photographed it. It had no smell and looked great. I wanted to do the taste test but chickened out. My family and my friend convinced me I was on a dumb mission.

So here are several specimens. I am really amazed how beautiful and diverse these things are. They are not a plant nor an animal.
They are a fungus, in a totally separate organism kingdom that indicates a separate evolution or creation branch of life. I revert back to just appreciating their differences and their beauty.

Tomorrow or the next day, I think I will go find a field guide and see what I can do to classify these. Until then here are a few photos taken in my yard this month and in a neighbor's yard.
One thing for sure, I am not going to eat a wild mushroom anytime soon and would tell any wannabe woodsmen, don't do it without an expert who is very comfortable living off of the land.

1 Kuo, M. (2007, January). Key to major groups of mushrooms. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site:

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