Nov 23 2013

Fundamentals of Fungi: Kenny’s Quintet

Oh, my darlings, it’s been a very long time since I’ve given any love to those of you who adore your shrooms. Fortunately, I’ve got a coworker who finds some fabulous ones, and had a good camera on his phone, and he’s sharing the love with you.

He hit me square in the squees with this beauty of a fly agaric he found up by Canyon Park.

A fly agaric fit for a gnome's throne.

A fly agaric fit for a gnome’s throne.

One thing I love about all of the mushrooms around here is how fairy-tale they all seem. I may be an atheist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t delight in the stories we tell each other about magic and mystery and mysticalities. Kenny found some fungi that make me want to photoshop fairies in.

Lots of perky little white-capped shrooms that make this look like a fantasy forest.

Lots of perky little white-capped shrooms that make this look like a fantasy forest.

Get into the misty wet woods, and come across a bunch of mushrooms marching up a tree, adorning it like jewels, and you can almost believe you’ve stepped from the mundane world into a rather more interesting one.

Strings and streamers of mushrooms adorning a tree.

Strings and streamers of mushrooms adorning a tree.

The beauty of being an atheist is, I know that magical world is our really-real one. I don’t have to do anything special or complicated to get there. I just have to find a path into the woods and follow it with my eyes open.


A virtual wall of mushrooms on a tree trunk.

A virtual wall of mushrooms on a tree trunk.

Then forget fairies. There’s the natural art, of course – mushrooms can be remarkably beautiful. And we can use them to feed ourselves, or kill, or go on a trip, or treat illness. We can use them to dye fiber, or soak up toxins, or start the fire we’ll use to cook some of their mates. We can use them to read ecosystems. That’s all pretty remarkable stuff. Mushrooms have many stories to tell, and while they may not be quite as sparkly as a forest full of fairies, they’re captivating.

A tower of brown mushrooms.

A tower of brown mushrooms.

And I’ve got so very many to share with you this winter.


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  1. 1

    That red one is about the loveliest thing I’ve ever seen!

    Hope you aren’t working today, and will be watching Doctor Who at 10:30.

  2. 2

    Errr, make that 11:30. Or 11:50.

    10:30 is a repeat of the last episode from the latest series. I’ll be watching that as well.

  3. 3
    Lithified Detritus

    Very cool. Mushrooms can be beautiful, as well as delicious. Mrs. Detritus and I once attended an Audubon potluck, and one of the dishes contained a colorful variety of collected mushrooms, which might have aroused some concern. We knew, however, that another member was the author of The Mushroom Hunter’s Field Guide. We enjoyed it with confidence, and experienced no ill effects. Don’t try Fly Agaric, however, or for that matter any of the Amanitas.

    Just for variety, here is another, very different, quintet.

  4. 4

    I have some lovely specimens right in my backyard – worthy of fairy-tales (or ogre-tales, seeing as a couple look like large patches of lumpy red slime on the ground). Yes, I still have to get the camera fixed.
    That fly agaric is beautiful. Thank you for sharing, Kenny!

  5. 5
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Lithified Detritus, the link you supplied has a superfluous ‘l’ at the end.
    This should take you there; http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120225.html (one of my favourite sites, btw).

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