Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Don't Eat These Mushrooms!

Strange mushroom growing in my backyard, May 2011.
Thanks to several knowledgeable readers I have now learned that the mushrooms growing in my backyard are definitely NOT for human consumption.  I mistakenly thought the weird, drippy brown substance on the mushroom I tentatively (and incorrectly) identified as a morel was just mud from my tomato patch.  It turned out to be something far more intriguing.

Bharati writes:
You have two species with very interesting spore propagation methods.
Suspect # 1 is likely Phallus impudicus (a Stinkhorn species). The spores are in the stinking gelatinous substance on the head of the mature fungus. The aroma of rotting carrion attracts flies, who then spread the spores.
The second photo is of one of the Coprinus species (Inky caps) - in this species the gills digest themselves at maturity, turning into an inky black fluid that drops on the ground and helps spread the spores. Cool and ghoulish, huh? 
A second unidentified species of mushroom in my backyard, May 2011.

Sadly, I threw away both mushroom patches before either had time to propagate.  Of course, mushrooms are mysterious and surprising so perhaps I may see them again some day.  I am grateful to all of the readers out there who weighed in on this topic.  I appreciate all your advice and knowledge.

My friend Daniel also wrote in and reminded me that I missed a great opportunity to add to my stereoscopic collection of phallic plants.

Daniel writes:
I hope you took a stereophoto of the Stinkhorn Fungus, Phallus impudicus, to accompany your series of stereoscopic views of the Amorphophallus gigantum or titanum when it first bloomed at The Huntington.
Naturally, I'm kicking myself over this one.  But I'm posting two Amorphophallus stereo cards as a reminder to myself to keep the stereo photos coming!

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