20121121

Scenes from the Forest: Mushrooms

Not many people are lucky to have a forest near their living place, especially now that we're all living in cities. I am, however, lucky enough to have a whole forest right out of my apartment. I spent my entire childhood running through it and playing with my friends, and today still I kept a habit of visiting it every now and then, although none of my friends accompany me any more. So today, since it was a surprisingly nice and warm day (my girlfriend even went for a swim), while returning from the hospital I decided to go through the Forest. It is not a huge forest, and it takes about 10-15 minutes to walk its entire length, but it's a relaxing 10 minutes nevertheless. Anyway, while checking what I surely hope is a fresh dog grave, I noticed a few mushrooms a few meters away, plucked out of the ground and thrown aside. Now, I hate it when people pick flowers and plants, but it's even worse with mushrooms since many of them live for less than a week, so I was somewhat sad when I noticed them. However, it did give me something to do this afternoon: I tried to classify two of them. Since I'm not a mycologist, nor have I ever before tried to classify fungi, it was a fun and a bit frustrating endeavor.
Many people don't really think much about mushrooms, except when choosing toppings for their pizza, but they are actually quite a peculiar sort of beings. Neither plants nor animals, mushrooms are actually fruit of a fungal organism hidden beneath the ground, just like an apple is a fruit of an apple tree. Hence it is also a reproductive organism of the fungi, carrying the spores with which it ensures the continuous survival of its species.
Russula aurea and Amanita virosa, side by side
As I said, I picked two of the mushrooms I found and carried them back home with me, hoping to be able to do the classification. Using the amazing powers of the almighty Internet, I now think I might have managed to do so.

The first mushroom is, I believe, Russula aurea, also known as gilded brittlegill. It is almost without a doubt of the Russula genus, and as for the species, it's hard to be completely certain since it has apparently been out of the ground for some time now, so it's already rotten a little. It could also be Russula vesca, but it's usually more brown than the one I found. If this is indeed Russula aurea, then I got really lucky, since it's an uncommon species which, as opposed to many others from its genus, is edible and also, according to Wikipedia, mild-tasting. I decided to skip the eating and tasting part, so I'm gonna trust Wikipedia with this one.
Russula aurea
The other one should be Amanita virosa, with a very foreboding common name, European destroying angel. It's apparently deadly poisonous, if you didn't catch that from the name. This one is quite big, with a 13 cm wide cap and 10 cm long and 2 cm thick stem. It's quite a nice specimen, which makes me even angrier at the person who destroyed it.
Amanita virosaAmanita virosa
Now, again, I'm not a mycologist and I have no idea if my classification is anywhere near correct. If you know the exact species of the mushrooms I found, please do tell in a comment. Whether correct or not, it was very fun and quite an educational afternoon, so I'm really happy and content, and a little angry and sad.

So, do you have any experience with fungi? :)

2 comments:

  1. Wow man! This is post is awesome! I'm interested in this identification, I'm a also not mycologist. From reading the wiki article you linked, I found one fact that could could make your identification of Russula aurea incorrect; "...found in deciduous woodland in Europe in summer and early autumn.".

    However, I didn't post this comment just to negate your opinion/research, I'm also curious now and want help in attempt to definitively identify those two mushrooms! :) So my first question is did you consider the trees in the environment? Beech, oak, hazel or similar genus?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I have considered this when trying to make the decision, and although the Forest is mostly consisting of evegreen pines, with occasional oaks and a bunch of different shrubbery, what led me to this conclusion the most is the fact that the weather here right now is much more similar to early, than late autumn.

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...