"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's the time of the season for mushrooms

This weekend near Westport, I found some type of Bolete family mushrooms fruiting in the glen...and having looked them up, I'm reasonably sure they are Suillus caerulescens, aka Fat Jacks. I didn't take this picture but it happens to be a picture of Fat Jacks growing elsewhere in Mendocino County near the Frogwood Retreat Center in Boonville. [I'm plugging them in consideration for using their mushroom photo without permission. Sounds like a neat place though. Would be fun to go there some time and tell 'em Fat Jack sent me.]

I haven't found this kind before, though maybe they've been fruiting in that glen by our house year after year and I've just not shown up at the right time to see them. I'm still rather a beginning amateur mycologist and so many of the 'shrooms one encounters are somewhat anonymous, it's a thrill to find one that pretty obviously matches a photo and description. I can't quite explain why it's a thrill. Only once have I eaten something I found, honey mushrooms, after triple checking them in two different books and using the MycoKey web application. Just the easy, free online version of MycoKey seems pretty helpful. Though I just checked and Fat Jacks aren't in there. Mykoweb, the huge database from whence came the scientific description of Suillus linked above, says (in case you didn't quite read all the way through it) that Fat Jacks are "edible, but of inferior quality." Still, it was so fun to find them. I was explaining to a friend how the mushrooms that pop out are just the little fruiting body tips-of-the-iceberg of massive underground networks of mycelium and she found the concept somewhat unnerving. Paul Stamets says that mycelium is the earth's internet. He says quite a lot of things, though. He believes in fungal intelligence.


WP said...

Hey, I found something just like the Fat Jacks earlier this year. The shrooms I saw had little teeth marks in them so some mammal had been noshing before I came across them.

Emily said...

Perhaps the mammal took a bite and thought to itself, "hmmm...these are edible, but of inferior quality."

WP said...

Or, he thought, "hmmm... these are good and if I put my teeth marks in each one that dumb giant won't come back and pick any."