Saturday, July 11, 2009

Central NY Mushrooms

Well, one good thing about all the rain we've been having is that I keep seeing mushrooms pop up under the conifers outside my window.

A big family of fly agarics lives there. I quickly keyed this one out to, probably, Amanita muscaria var. formosa. This genus of mushrooms is responsible for 90% of mushroom ingestion fatalities, though some species are perfectly edible. Some say that the only cure for eating the most poisonous members is a prompt liver transplant. A. muscaria, depending on the genetics of the specific mushroom clone, and the physiology of the consumer, may be poisonous and/or hallucinogenic.

There also were a large number of little brown jobs that appeared to belong to the Cantharellaceae, a family that includes many outstanding edibles, including chanterelles. I haven't studied mushroom taxonomy enough to consider eating wild ones so I didn't bother going further in trying to identify them.

Both these mushrooms are mycorrhizal, meaning that their extensive, underground mycelia are fused with the roots of certain species of trees and other plants. In this mutualistic relationship, the fungus generally gives its plant host greater access to water and mineral nutrients in exchange for carbohydrates.

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