Hello Stalkers. Welcome to your eleventh issue of Stalking Mike Blair Outdoors. It is officially spring! Some people are feeling those warmer spring days and others are still stuck in the colder weather. I hope if you’re weather has warmed up you’ve taken advantage and have ventured out to experience the great outdoors. We’ve talked about several birds, animals and other creatures in our newsletters. This issue, we’re going to talk about another natural element that you may encounter on your jaunts outside, mushrooms.
What’s the difference between fungi and mushrooms? All mushrooms are fungi but not all fungi are mushrooms. Fungi are groups of microorganisms that feed on organic matter. A mushroom is a microorganism’s attempt to reproduce. Mushrooms can be described as fungi instead of a plant because mushrooms don’t contain chlorophyll; so, they don’t require sunlight to grow like plants do. However, they still need a suitable substrate, thus they feed off organic matter. That’s why mushrooms can commonly be found on dead logs, feces, and other decomposing items.
Blair encounters a few different types of mushrooms during his time outdoors. We’ll briefly talk about four that he has taken some photos of. Blair has expressed a special affinity for mushrooms, especially in mushroom soup. However, it is never advisable to eat a mushroom unless you are one hundred percent sure that it is safe. There are several safe mushrooms that have a “evil twin” look-a-like that is poisonous and will have a disastrous end. So, please keep in mind to NEVER eat anything if you are not absolutely positive about whether it is safe or not.
Meadow mushrooms commonly pop up in grassy areas after some rain. They are closely related to a button mushroom. These white fungi have bright pink gills that fade to dark brown. There are five to ten centimeters in diameter with a three to ten centimeter tall stipe. The meadow mushroom is said to have a mild taste and are safe to eat; however, their appearance is similar to another mushroom called the destroying angel mushroom, which is a poisonous.
The shaggy mane mushroom, also known as the shaggy ink cap, is much more easily identifiable. It’s cap is almost cylindrical and initially covers most of the stem. The cap is mostly white with shaggy scales (hence it’s name). This mushroom is one to two and a half centimeters in diameter with a ten to thirty-seven centimeter tall stipe. An interesting fact about this mushroom is that it will turn black and dissolve itself in a matter of hours after dispersing it’s spores or after being picked. If you plan on eating this one, it is best to pick it when it’s young, eat within a couple hours or prepare and freeze.
Fresh oyster mushrooms are among the best of edibles, according to Mike Blair. He enjoys freezing these and using them in mushroom soup. These mushrooms can be found in both tropical and temperate climates. These mushrooms may be attached directly to a tree and not have a stem. Fresh oyster mushrooms are cream colored. They have a broad fan, or oyster cap with a span between five and twenty-five centimeters. Mike says these are the only gilled mushrooms that grow only out of cottonwood or willow wood.
This colorful mushroom is commonly called a turkey tail fungi. This is pretty obvious as to why when you look at it’s fan shaped fruiting structure. These structures resemble miniature turkey fans. This effect is added to more with it’s striped coloring that can range in gray, tan, deep blue and an orange color. The turkey tail fungi is a natural wood decomposer.
There’s much more to nature than the creatures that live in it. Take a minute to go outside, what other natural happening can you find? What’s their purpose in nature? Everything connects and contributes. Check up on Facebook this couple weeks. We will be having another contest soon, and you’ll need to be quick on the draw. Enjoy your spring weather, if you have it, and enjoy the great outdoors!
Be sure to check out the Mushroom Photo Gallery!