The reading this week was provided by Carol Nourse and is from The Garden, by Freeman Patterson, p. 100:
If it weren't for fungi the planet would soon cease to function, probably within minutes. Like many other fungi, Amanita mushrooms are important to the collective health of the forest, though I've also found and photographed them in open areas, where other species also live and do their work, often in gardens. For example, the delicious Agaricus, often called the "meadow mushroom," is common wherever there is decomposing manure of farm animals.
The visible part of mushrooms, those weird constructions I love to photograph, are the reproductive organs. However, the daily work of most species is carried out by mycelia: fine, fibrous, root-like hairs that invade dead wood and other material, causing it to decay. Then bacteria take over and complete the process of making it part of the soil again. One day it occurred to me that we all garden with fungi and bacteria to a greater extent than we do with shrubs and herbs and grasses.
The route: We went through the Shade Garden and on to the white trail. Just past the Power Line Right of Way we took the Green Trail, then continued to the right on the White Trail to a large group of Chanterelle Mushrooms. Then we returned the same way we came.
Our first stop was under the Power Line on the White Trail. Gary identified the white button mushrooms as Puffballs. He told us they should be eaten when the inside is white, before it becomes yellow. They must be cooked to get rid of dangerous alkaloids before eating.
Under the power line we also found a False Caesar’s Mushroom (Thank you Sandra for working with the mushroom guide and finding some of these names) (Amanita parcivolvata). As we rambled along, we found many more mushrooms than we could name. We only managed to identify about five. We found many individuals of Black footed Marasmius (Marasmiellus nigripes), a really interesting small, white mushroom growing on a twig (and eventually found growing on the trunk of a tree) that had dark thread-like projections emerging from the wood below the mushroom itself. There were so many interesting mushrooms to see that we were hardly moving on the Green Trail. We wanted everyone to see the Chanterelles, we decided to move on to where they were growing and then come back along the Green Tail at a leisurely pace. Gary said the Chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius) were excellent eating. There were quite a number of them at this site. We turned around and started back.
The first stop on the way back was for a mushroom that looked like a Chanterelle, but was growing on wood and not on the ground. Gary noted that this one was poisonous. I could not find latin name of the poisonous Chanterelle-looking mushroom. But we did find the name (Thank you Sandra) for the red mushroom bursting out of a white covering, American Caesar’s Mushroom (Amanita caesarea). One of the slime molds and a coral mushroom were seen along the Green Trail on the return.
In addition to mushrooms we noted several rattlesnake ferns (Botrychium virginianum), partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) not blooming, and pipsissiwa (Chimaphila maculata). We also identified several trees: Southern Red Oak (Quercus falcata), Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea), mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa), pignut hickory (Carya glabra), shagbark hickory (Carya ovate), and a tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera).
Don Hunter found our last mushroom off the trail: Silver Ear Fungus or White Jelly Mushroom (Tremella fuciformis). Gary said that Jelly mushrooms were edible.
As we walked by the old flower garden we saw wild petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis).
Returning to the Arbor, we dispersed with many retiring to Donderos for coffee and snacks. This was a very pleasant day with eye-catching mushrooms even if we could not identify most of them.