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A New Take on ‘Magic Mushrooms’

July 14, 2013

I live in the woods – not as in ‘out in the woods’ but as in ‘on a highly treed lot in the heart of the city’.  If you looked my house up on Google maps here’s what you’d see:

My Property

Screenshot captured from Google maps (yup, there’s a house under there!)

Some of the approximately 75 trees (mostly oak, maple and poplar) on my lot are hundreds of years old. That’s because the area where I live used to be part of one of the original farms in our city (the property was deeded to the original landowner in 1802; the farmhouse that was built in the 1860s has been updated and modernized, but it’s still there – just down the road from me).  Fortunately, when the farm property was divvied up and sold off in the late 1960s, some of the developers had the foresight to save as many trees as they could, and quite a few of the homes that were built were designed to blend into the forest (as opposed to the more popular trend of tearing down the forest to make way for the houses).

Because of the deep shade provided by the trees, grass won’t grow here at all (but you won’t hear my husband complaining about not having to take care of a lawn).  My ‘yard’ is, instead, covered with a variety of shade-loving groundcover, wildflowers, and the odd perennial plant that thrives without access to (very much) sunlight.  Over the years, I’ve learned (primarily through trial and error) what thrives is this kind of environment, and what dies, and after thirteen years I’m pleased to say that my gardens are practically self-sufficient.

This year, though, I’ve had a new ‘crop’ emerging all over my property; in fact, I don’t think there’s a nook or cranny that hasn’t been impacted. I’m putting this strange phenomenon down to the unusual amount of rain we had in the spring, followed by intense humidity in the past few weeks.  It seems as if I’m living in the midst of a fungus outbreak!

Now, it’s not unusual for the odd ‘mushroom’ to emerge when the forest grows damp. Occasionally a white ‘button’ mushroom will push its way through the ground (usually through the gravel in the driveway), or for a ‘puffball’ or two to emerge in one of the gardens.  And we have this giant orange ‘dog poop’ fungus that grows at the base of a tree stump out front almost every year (see below; I don’t know it’s real name, but when it starts to decompose, it smells just like dog poop – so that’s what I call it!)

Dog Poop Mushrooms

This year, however, we’ve had an unbelievable variety and volume of fungi showing up all over the place; here’s just a sampling (all photos taken on Tuesday, July 9 on my property).

Mushrooms1 Mushrooms2
Mushrooms3 Mushrooms4
Mushrooms5 Mushrooms6
Mushrooms7 Mushrooms8
Mushrooms9 Mushrooms10
Mushrooms11 Mushrooms12
Mushrooms13 Mushrooms14
Mushrooms15 Mushrooms16
Mushrooms17 Mushrooms18

Clearly, this is nature’s way of taking advantage of the moisture in the soil. Most of these organisms have since disappeared, but I’m keeping my eyes open for what else might surprise me here on … the other side of 55.

Nature Quote

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6 Comments
  1. August 2, 2013 7:43 am

    Fungi are so primitive looking. And so fleeting. Loved your pictures of them.

    • August 2, 2013 7:58 am

      Some of them remind me of Alice in Wonderland; I keep expecting to see a hookah-smoking caterpillar sitting on one!

  2. Colleen permalink
    July 17, 2013 8:39 am

    We have lots this year too…but no where near as many as you! Have you figured out if any of them are edible?

    Colleen

    • July 17, 2013 10:14 am

      I’m not sure I want to ‘test’ them to find out (although the squirrels seem to know which ones to nibble on and I suspect my raccoons are tasting them, too).

      Margo

  3. Cathy Hendrix permalink
    July 15, 2013 8:17 pm

    What a variety! Makes you think of pixies and fairies. (I know, I never grew up.)

    • July 16, 2013 8:45 am

      There were one or two that reminded me of Alice in Wonderland and several that certainly should have had fairies sitting on top!

      Margo

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