Mushrooms in Michigan
Robin Anderson Photography
Looking for new subject matter to photograph can be challenging. Sometimes going to new places is not always possible, so I have learned to go to some of the same old places and look for new subject matter there. That is how I stumbled upon photographing mushrooms and identification of them.
The mushroom that got the ball rolling for me was this little beauty... my daughter came home and showed me a photo that she had taken with her iPod... I was excited because I thought she had discovered the coveted and illusive Morel mushroom. Morels sell for $199 per pound! So, I had her take me back to where she found it.
To my surprise the first thing that I noticed was the smell. I thought to myself, how can people pay so much for something that smells so bad. I went home and started researching mushrooms on the internet... I discovered a wonderful site for identifying mushrooms: http://www.rogersmushrooms.com/
It turns out that what my daughter found is called Phallus Impudicus, also known as stinkhorn. It is inedible, but not poisonous. What is the difference you may be asking... my research tells me that it doesn't taste good, but it won't kill you, (I disagree). It smelled so bad, I was sick to my stomach for hours after being around them. I could smell them in the air from a block away. Here is an exerpt from Rogers Mushroom Identification site:
- Phallus Impudicus is bell-shaped with the head covered by a meshwork of raised ribs covered in dark olive slime which contains the spores. This slime has a strong sickly offensive smell which attracts flies from large distances, the slime sticks to the legs of the flies and thus acts as a means of spore dispersal. The egg stage, which lacks the disgusting smell, is edible though not tasty; it is said to be an aphrodisiac presumably through the association with its phallic shape.
The next mushroom that I found was on the opposite end of the spectrum of mushrooms. It is small, cute, and dangerous. Unlike Phallus impudicus, this mushroom contains toxins. It is called Inocybe grammata and grows on wood. It is fascinating how something so cute can be so dangerous. According to Rogers Mushroom Identification web site:
- Uncommon. Not edible like most Inocybes it has been found to contain toxins. Distribution, America and Europe.
This next mushroom really stood out while I was on a walk through the woods searching for new photographs. The bright orange color was very striking. It is called Amanita frostiana. There seems to be a correlation between beauty and danger. Here is what Rogers Mushroom Identification site has to say about it.
- Rare. Found in eastern North America. Season August. Not edible avoid many Amanitas contain toxins some deadly.
Since we are in Michigan and the month is October, that would make this an extra rare find.
This is the last mushroom in this series. It is Pleurotus ostreatus. This one is common and here is what Roger's Mushroom Identification site says about it.
- large clusters on stumps and fallen or standing trunks, usually of deciduous trees, especially beech. Season all year. Common. Edible and good. Distribution, America and Europe.
This has been so fun hunting for mushrooms with my camera. I can honestly say that I never would have thought it could be so much fun. From my reading I have learned that Morels can be found in the Spring. Who would have thought that hunting Morel mushrooms would become one of my bucket list items?