Each October, we have a little colony of mushrooms that spring up near the shed in our back garden. Last year we let this little colony live out it’s little life-cycle with just an observation – nothing more. We wondered if they were poisonous, but left it at that.
This year, our little mushroom colony sprang up once again right on cue. We decided to make them the focus of one of our Outdoor Hour Challenges. Armed with our mushroom field-guide, we went out to identify them.
We noticed that they seemed to start off in a feathered dome like shape – seen in the foreground, then progress to a longer stalk with a rather shaggy cup, tinged with pink in some cases…
and progressing to this rather yucky mess. In their final days, they look like they are just melting off their stalks.
After much paging though our guide, we identified them as Shaggy Ink Caps. Edible – although we chose not to eat them. I know that the slightest mis-identification could cause us grievous bodily harm. Unless I am with a fungi expert, I think we will stick to store-bought!
Once inside, we read a little from the Handbook of Nature Study, pages 714 – 716.
I concentrated on making particular note of a few more facts, building on our knowledge from previous studies.
The girls then worked on their journals, adding these new facts to their page.
|Miss J-L’s Page|
We learned that fungi falls into two groups. They are either parasites – living off a live host, eventually causing great damage, even the demise of the host, like this Dryad’s Saddle we found on our butterfly walk in August, which often cause white rot on the trees. It is edible though – again, we declined ;o) …
Or Saprophytes – living off decaying plant matter or nutrient rich soil. The latter is helpful and beneficial. We need these fungi to help maintain a healthy woodland.
|Miss V-L’s Page.|
Over the coming weeks, we will keep our eyes open for more mushrooms on our walks, looking out for both parasitic and saprophytic. In fact, we may turn this into a year-long study. I for one am interested to see what seasonal mushrooms and toadstools are out there!