Mushrooms (part 1)

We've had rain the last few days in a row, and that means mushrooms! I love taking photos of mushrooms and other fungi, as I think they're fascinating:

They can also be quite beautiful, at least to my eye! So today I'll show you several photos I've taken of various mushrooms in my yard over the past few years.

This isn't a mushroom, but it's another type of fungus that was just too interesting to pass up:

These first two photos are fresh (taken yesterday), and that's one thing I've learned about mushrooms in the garden: they change very quickly. Some may be around for only a day or less, although others may last for several days in a less-than-photogenic state.

When taking these photos, for the most part I'm "shooting blind" -- I'll put the camera down on the ground, aim, shoot and see what I get. Then repeat this process several times until I get some decent shots. The alternative is to lay on the wet ground, and I'm usually not in the mood for that.

Especially since many of these form in mulched areas, and although mulch may feel nice and soft under your shoes, try laying down on your stomach on it. Not so comfortable. Sometimes it just has to be done though!

These may not be mushrooms, but they are definitely a fungus or mold of some sort and look like the tiniest mushrooms you'll ever see:

The leaves in that photo are at most an inch from tip to tip -- see the helicopter seed below them?

This year I haven't seen too many mushrooms, but last year it seemed like I was raising them:

There were several large patches of mushrooms like this in my yard last year.

That has to be due to the fact that our 2008-2009 winter was relatively mild and extremely dry, so I was able to get several loads of free mulch from the community mulch pile (from my city's free chipping service). I applied these in January or February, and they must have contained loads of spores just ready to activate once the weather warmed up.

I used this mulch in areas of the backyard that aren't too visible since I suspected something like this might happen, and the mulch itself isn't overly attractive. Organic mulches are great for improving the soil though, so even with the mushroom blankets I'll do this again when I have the opportunity.

As well as being beautiful and interesting, mushrooms and other fungi are an important part of a garden's ecosystem, as they help break down organic matter: mulch, sticks, leaves, etc.

Normally you can just leave mushrooms alone, and they'll "go away" in a couple of days. If you have a lot of them in a big patch, or if they are quite large mushrooms, you may want to remove them by hand before they get too "messy":

I've learned from last year's experience that a carpet of rotting mushrooms will really stink, and will attract swarms of what look like fruit flies. You can see their maggots on the rotting mushroom flesh above. Not very pleasant.

I've never really researched the mushrooms that I find, so I have no idea about names or whether or not they are edible. I would never eat a mushroom unless I knew with absolute certainty that it was not poisonous. I do love eating store-bought mushrooms though!

I've got several more mushroom photos to share with you, including my all-time (so far) favorite mushrooms so I think I'll continue this post tomorrow...

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Anonymous –   – (August 26, 2015 at 8:36 AM)  

I found one of your pictured mushrooms in my yard last night. They just popped up all of a sudden. Never saw them in the yard before. But was happy to find the picture you posted.

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