Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mushroom madness: What lurks below?

One of the byproducts of all the rain we’ve had this year—more than 13 inches above average to date in this area—is that mushrooms are popping up here, there, and just about everywhere in our gardens and lawns.  The photos with this posting are some of the mushrooms growing here at Meadow Glenn.

So if I have mushrooms growing in our own yard, why did I stop by the Giant Food store to buy two handfuls of two kinds of mushrooms?  You know the answer: mushrooms are notoriously difficult to identify.  An edible variety may look nearly identical to its poisonous relative. A deer or squirrel may eat one, but it might kill you.

In his “Gardening” column in Thursday’s Post, Adrian Higgins took a look at some common wild mushrooms and explained why wise gardeners leave picking them to the experts. 

Higgins also taught me something about the “leviathan” that lurks below the mushroom that pops up in our garden:  “Here’s the thing about the mushroom.  It is merely the fruiting body of a much larger and permanent organism that lives beneath the soil.  It is akin to the flower of a plant, dispersing its seed.  I like to think of a mushroom as the dorsal fin of some great whale that lives in the depths.  It flashes, it is gone, the leviathan passes from our consciousness, but it is still there.”

If you’re curious about the mushrooms growing in your garden or lawn, take a few minutes to read Higgins’ article, “Beneath the planet of the mushrooms,” and look at the photo illustrations.  CLICK HERE.

And remember to leave wild mushroom harvesting to the experts.

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