Mycology Monday

While working in the yard this weekend, I came across two mushrooms that I've never seen before. The fact that they were unrecognizable to me should not be surprising, as I can probably only pick about three mushrooms out of a line-up. I've noticed probably a dozen different mushrooms on our property and I've always meant to do some research and find out what they were, but I never actually have done so. Well, today was the day. I think it's important to be aware of my surroundings in general, and I think it's beneficial to know what things one can and cannot forage, specifically. Taking steps, such as these, to increase my food independence and to increase my knowledge of what's available to me in my own backyard is really empowering. I did discover that one of them, the Shaggy Mane, is edible, although I did not eat it. I'm not quite that confident yet. I was unable to identify the second and would love help! I think I'll e-mail the pictures to someone at the Prairie State Mushroom Club or the ISU Extension Office.

So, here is what I wrote in my newly christened Mycology journal:

October 17, Mushroom 1 (not yet identified)

~2" tall, dry to touch and got drier after it was picked, in lawn, nearest tree is a Maple
Cap: 1.5-2" across, completely smooth, seems to bruise easily, latte in color, darker at the top, distinctive hole (1/4" across, off-center), pitted
Stem: scaled at bottom, very feathery white annulus, white to light latte in color, fibrous
Gills: Attached to stem, latte in color, defined (not closely packed), no latex when scratched, cream spore print

October 17, Mushroom 2 (Coprinus Comatus, Shaggy Mane)

~3" tall, Still cool and moist after being picked, in lawn, nearest tree is a Maple
Cap: white, almost opalescent, scales, not slimy, no warts, feather out towards bottom, darken towards bottom, ~2" long, top is smooth, pliable
Stem: Feathery white/tinged with black annulus, stiff, hollow, striated
Gills: Black, tipped with white ("Neapolitan" inside, bands of white, peach, and black), not attached to stem, very closely packed, slight peach latex when scratched, black inky residue that increased in quantity over time

Doing this really close observation and then research reminded me of summers when I was a child. When I was about 8 or 9, my friend and I would make "scientific expeditions" to the creek that ran just north of town. I would take detailed notes about everything that we saw and then we would attempt to fish using homemade poles of sticks, string, safety pins and Cheetos for bait. I abandoned these types of activities and I'm not really sure why (maybe because of that whole "going to school" and "getting a job" thing). But, I'm really glad to come back to them.

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