June 27, 2012

Just because it's cute, doesn't mean you should put it in your mouth.

Who knew that LBMs, or the catch all category of mushrooms called Little Browns, were the cause of most fatal mushroom poisonings in the USA.  This has been chalked up to their benign appearance (something so small, so bewitchingly parasol shaped couldn't be bad!), and unlike the amanitas or false morels,  they are so freaking available.  I am going to suggest foragers go to the experts HERE.  It's a link to the Missouri Department of Conservation's poisonous mushroom catalogue.  Very attractive, very informative, and a lot of interesting links about the woods, and how to make it out of them in without breaking your in or outsides)  

As for the LBMs you see up top, I am the opposite of bummed about their presence in the soil.   They are the fruiting body evidence that the mycelial culture that we deliberately introduced into our soil mix is still alive.   Paul Stamets, the revered mycologist and my former teacher, described mycelium as the internet of the soil, the facilitator of underground information exchange in between plants and the nutrient transfer from soil to roots.  Mycelium is a mass of single cell wide, threadlike structures known as hyphae, and the hyphae germinate from mushrooms spores (that powdery stuff that gets on your hands when you rub the gills of a mushroom cap).  It spreads under the ground like a spider web, mirroring the pattern of a cracked windshield.   In Oregon there is a mycelium matt that covers over 2,400 acres and may be the largest single living organism in the world.  In his book Mycellium Running, Paul Stamets says that this enourmous fungal mat had dispatched the forest above it multiple times to build up a soil layer for its future hyphae limbs.   How?, I have no freaking idea.    Go HERE to see Stamets talk about how he cured his stutter at 16 with psyilocibes, and to hear some incredibly hopeful information about how mushrooms are capable of repairing a great deal of the damage we have inflicted on our environments.  Stayed tuned for an attempt to grow edibles up top using wood palettes and the water run-off from the hood fans.   K

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