Mushroom season

Autumn is mushroom season, which for me means rainy forays into the woods. The appeal of fungi is difficult to explain. Perhaps it is the temporary appearance of these life-forms, or maybe the strange appearances they have. Or just the thrill of the hunt. In any case, a day in the woods is rarely spent poorly.

Last Saturday I went to Store Hareskov, which is a large forest near the Furesø in Zealand. The land is managed for timber, so not ideal hunting – better to be in a more diverse forest, or one that has recently burned. Many fungi rely on mutualisms with plants, or do well with the decaying wood found in the aftermath of a fire or in a very mature forest.

Here are some gilled fungi growing out of a cut log. The entire structure you see is a fruiting body, and is only a small part of the total mass of the organism – yet certainly, the most charismatic and ephemeral part.

The gills are a reproductive structure – small spores drop out from between the gills and are dispersed widely by the wind.

Other species take different strategies – this is a puffball, which stores its spores on the inside until dramatically exploding all by itself or when trampled by a passing animal. This one has some parasite eating through it. Many species of puffballs are edible when young but I’m not sure about this one!

Fungi are well-liked by many other species too, as you can see here. Fortunately for the fungi, much spore dispersal occurs immediately after the cap separates from the veil and before any nibbling occurs.

Not always a success – here is a well-fed slug (Arion rufus?), enjoying the fall crop.

On this day there was nothing edible to be found – the downsides of hunting in such a developed and well-trafficked area. It is difficult to find any truly wild places here. Still there are many small joys to be found in days like these!

5 thoughts on “Mushroom season

  1. Had a ginormous puffball on my lawn. Did not eat it as I’ve experienced wild mushroom poisoning and have no desire to go through that again! I posted photos of the puffball on my blog. Not as pretty on a lawn as in your forest, but still an interesting sight.

      • I went to a dinner about 10 years ago put on by a mycological society. Great chef, professional kitchen. Mushrooms in every course. Alas, some of the mushrooms, when you look at the guidebooks are described, “not all can tolerate” and “look-alike poisonous mushrooms sometimes get collected along with the edible.” I was the only person out of 40 to go to the emergency room. The doctor said it was classic mushroom poisoning, which included severely painful abdominal cramps and a migraine that lasted 3 days. But not permanent damage! At least not that I’m aware of:)

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