I don’t think I’ve seen a more ridiculously abundant number and variety of mushrooms in my life as I have over the past few weeks – and almost all of them in my own yard!
I think they’ve banded together and are having some secret ‘shroom convention – with so many of them out in plain sight, one can only imagine the hordes hiding in the underbrush just out of sight? I don’t even like regular store-bought mushrooms – I really don’t appreciate finding truly strange and alien ‘shrooms erupting all over my yard.
Mushrooms are usually more circumspect, hiding shyly at the damp edges of the woods, peeking out from under low-bush cranberry, red currents, ferns and fireweed. Well, except for the occasional Amanita, with its huge, flamboyant red and orange cap, sprinkled with white polka dots. But those are pretty easy to avoid.
But not so much this year! With all the rain we’ve seen, mushrooms have come out of hiding and are running amuck. They are even growing up through the gravel in our driveway.
Rhonda romped through an entire tiny colony (each the size of your pinky fingernail) of these Pear-shaped puffballs today, only noticed because of the powdery puffs of dust-like greenish spores they release upward when trampled.
Unfamiliar with this species of mini-mushroom and unsure of their possible toxicity until I had a chance to look them up, poor Ronni immediately suffered through a quick cold-water rinse from the belly down with the garden hose. She was NOT impressed. I told her green spoors were not a good look on her.
Yes, I apologized to Ronni later, once I read that the little puffballs are harmlesss. Hey, better safe than sorry, right?
And here are two more varieties flourishing in our soggy, unintentional little mushroom habitat.
I also discovered that, again due to multiple weeks of rain, we had what seemed to be several new-to-me mushroom species, which turned out to be all of a single type – the non-stop wet conditions have encouraged multiple generations to grow at once, so they can be found in all growth stages, looking completely unique and different, and popping up strategically in various areas of the yard, I’m sure just to freak me out.
I mean, who knew these were all the same type of mushroom? From newly erupted, brilliantly shiny lemon-yellow balls (looking for all the world like miniature bell peppers), larger creamy yellow balls on thick stalks, to clusters of yellow blobby-balls, to fully opened (and quite pretty) flat-capped ‘shrooms that could almost be mistaken for flowers at first glance. All Yellow Fieldcap mushrooms (yep, including the pale pink, lacy flower-lookalike), and ALL toxic.
Another mushroom currently plentiful in our yard and along the driveway are the easy to miss (and also toxic) Rufous Milkcap, a species of milk-caps (Lactarius). Their tan and brown shading and relatively small size camouflage them nicely until you know what to look for.
I was appalled at how many of these I’ve found, growing amongst fallen leaves and even popping up in the middle of the lawn.
Fortunately, our dachshunds seem to have no interest in any of these fungi (so far), but I’m keeping a close eye on them (the ‘shrooms as well as the dogs.)
One of the prettier mushrooms, if mushrooms can be thus called, gracing our yard is the Conifer tuft, a species of Hypholoma – yet another toxic fungi. We’ve discovered several of these glossy yet slimy ‘shrooms, balanced gracefully atop narrow, curved 2” stalks, growing from the rain-drenched leaves and spruce needles under the protection of the large white spruce tree at the curve of the driveway.
Alas, there has not been a single morel, much less a truffle, in our riotous collection of invading ’shrooms. We had little white button mushrooms back in early summer, but they are regulars and long gone by this time of year.
I do believe we’ve had several quite large (and supposedly tasty) Aureoboletus Merabilis, or “Admirable Bolete” mushrooms on the grassy hill on the south side of the house.
I admit to not mentioning these large brown fungi to Jer because he actually likes [edible] mushrooms and since I’m not absolutely sure these large, meaty mushrooms are indeed what they resemble … I’d hate to accidentally poison the poor man. And I’m sure not eating them!
I found myself today, tiptoeing through the fungi, hoping not to inadvertently squish one of the slimy pods between my toes, where Ronni would surely feel honor-bound to lick the slimy stuff off my feet. Yuck!
Hopefully, this not-so-secret mushroom convention will have its last fungi party soon and meander back into the wet woods, from whence they first emerged.
I’m sure they’ll be happier without dachshunds trampling them and me crouching down and pointing my iPhone at them suspiciously in an attempt to identify each and every one as harmful or benign.
If all else fails, the first frost should do them in. Wow, I never thought I’d look forward to the first frost.
Identification of mushroom species courtesy of the free iPhone app, Picture Mushroom. Any inadvertent mis-labeling of local fungi can be laid at their door. It was actually an interesting mini adventure, and I didn’t even need to leave home.