And be sure to stay clear of the plentitude of mushrooms popping up everywhere. The constant rains are perfect for long dormant mushroom spores to grow, but most of them are NOT good for your salads.
There are many different species of mushrooms popping up out of the ground and sometimes dead branches of trees. Some are big, some are small, some have bright colors, and some are brown and gray. Nonetheless, all of them are each unique and interesting in their own right and to understand them, sometimes you must know what lies beneath.
(chicken of the woods, Laetiporus sulphureus)
The strange, mysterious, and sometimes scary mushrooms (also called toad stools) that you see in the yard are the spore-bearing, fruiting bodies of different fungi growing in the ground. There are many different fungi, but most have the same job, decomposing organic matter. This “matter” can be anything from old leaves, decaying wood, tree roots from a long gone tree, decomposing animals, or any other organic material. These fungi prefer rich, moist soils that have plenty of “food” for them. This is why they often pop up around trees or in flower beds that are mulched.
Mushrooms, and the fungi that they represent, are generally not hurting anything, but are taking advantage of readily available food sources. Mushrooms are often misunderstood, and have been for a long, long time. Due to their unexpected growth after rain storms, ancient Greeks believed that a mushroom was the product of Zeus’s lightning bolts. During the Middle Ages, rings of mushrooms were dubbed “Fairy Rings” and were thought to be the result of a ritual dance carried on by fairies during “the witching hour.” Although these theories are respectable, we now know the true cause of these interesting organisms.
Mushrooms can be very difficult to identify, even by some of the best mycologists in the world. There are approximately 1.5 million species of fungi believed to be on earth, with only about 75,000 species identified at this time. While mushrooms, such as Shitake and Portobello are popular eats for the commoners, truffles, also the fruiting body of a fungus can fetch upwards of $500 per ounce! And while there are many edible fungi in the world, I caution anyone about harvesting their own mushrooms from the wild. Many mushrooms contain toxic chemicals that can cause digestive distress, organ failure and even death. Of the 10,000 fleshy fungi described in North America, about 50 percent are inedible and poisonous. As a general rule, if you do not know for sure, DO NOT eat it.
If you have mushrooms on your lawn that bother you, simply mow them, or pluck and toss them in the trash. For more information on mushrooms, contact your local County Extension agent.
And I leave you with an old saying that we have in the mushroom world: There are OLD mushroom eaters,There are BOLD mushroom eaters, But there are no OLD, BOLD mushroom eaters!!!by Hunter McBrayer, C. Beaty Hanna Horticulture & Environmental Center, Diagnostic Lab
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