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Pictures of Wild Mushrooms and Fungus

My grandpa loved gardening. I learned much from him. To this day I enjoy puttering around in our garden, growing plants for beauty and food.

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Wild Mushrooms and Fungi

This article will show pictures of wild mushrooms and fungi appearing in our home garden plus elsewhere. Some of these infrequent guests that seem to pop up overnight when the conditions are right are stunningly beautiful, or at the least, they're unusual and worthy of note.

A few pictures of ones that have shown up in our backyard on occasion are pictured here. I have not yet captured the unusual oranges- to reddish-colored ones that always seem to appear during the Christmas season in our front yard. Perhaps I'll try to get some photos this year and add them to this article later.

My very talented and artistic cousin Bill Gullickson, who lives in Peoria, Illinois, emailed me photos of wild mushrooms and fungi that he has captured on film in the woods where he takes frequent walks. People reading this article will see a much greater diversity of beautifully shaped and colored mushrooms than the ones merely appearing in our garden, thanks to Bill's photographic efforts and his willingness to share his pictures with others.

The tiny mushrooms pictured in the first three photos above are like small translucent parasols. They are, on average, no more than about two inches high and primarily show up in a rock garden area of our yard. When the sun hits them, they rapidly seem to curl up and disappear back into the ground from which they sprung. So seeing these very elusive little umbrella-shaped mushrooms is a treat that does not last long.

Mycelium

In reading about mushrooms, the word "mycelium" was used.

The AOL dictionary describes mycelium in the following terms: It is "the mass of interwoven filamentous hyphae that forms especially the vegetative portion of the thallus of a fungus and is often submerged in another body (as of soil or organic matter or the tissues of a host)."

These interconnected, woven, mat-like strands of cells can cover small areas or huge ones covering multiple acres of land. Mycelium is also inside the roots of some trees. While most of it may be unseen, it does the job of filtering needed nutrients and recycling them.

More About Mushrooms

Mushrooms are like the fruits of a fungus. They produce spores similar to seeds. Wind or even other animals who have come in contact with them spread the spores.

Mycorrhizal mushrooms and the roots of living trees where they become attached mutually benefit from the relationship. Besides increasing the water and nutrient absorption to the trees or their roots, mycorrhizal mushrooms also offer some resistance to other plant pathogens, thus helping to protect the trees. Therefore, these types of mushrooms are symbiotic.

Have you ever noticed rings of mushrooms growing around trees? Those are undoubtedly mycorrhizal mushrooms living on and aiding the roots of those trees.

This function is the prime role that all mushrooms and fungi do. They continually recycle essential nutrients to the soil or their hosts.

Parasitic mushrooms reside on living plants and can often end up killing their hosts. However, they still have some value. Taxol, the potent anti-cancer drug found to be effective in treating breast cancer, comes from a parasitic mushroom as an example.

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Saprophytic mushrooms recycle already dead plant material. Some of the mushrooms pictured above appear in the shredded pine bark we use as mulch in our garden beds. Undoubtedly they are saprophytic mushrooms doing their job of speeding up the breakdown of that mulch. No wonder we have to top-dress our mulch every year because it seems to disappear!

Most of the gourmet mushrooms that are offered up for sale and eaten each year are saprophytic. Oyster mushrooms are an example.

The attractive mushrooms photographed above were on the side of our yard one day. They seemed to be growing right out of the soil. There was no mulch or apparent rotting wood nearby.

In that last photo, I had moved them, broke them in half, and laid them on a mulched area to take the picture. I have no idea what type of mushrooms they were, but they were very substantial and fleshy.

Above is a stunning array of different varieties of mushrooms showing distinctive forms, colors, and textures. I have my cousin Bill to thank for these pictures.

Harvesting Mushrooms

When I was a child growing up in the countryside of Wisconsin, there were nearby woods. Under one particular tree in the Spring of the year, we found some morel mushrooms that seemed to thrive in that one spot. The best description of how morel mushrooms appear is that of a sea sponge.

Each year that became a singular dining event when the morels were picked and eaten. My mother sauteed them in butter, and they were delicious.

The very last year, before my parents relocated to Texas, we were informed by a Native American lady who lived nearby that the puffballs that we kids had been playing with for years were edible. We would pick the white globe-like mushrooms and would throw the puffballs onto the ground with some force. They would explode in a "puff" of smokiness. Possibly that is how they received their name?

The puffballs were delicious! Had we only known that they were edible, we could have harvested free mushrooms for many months of the year. The puffballs would grow to diameters of between 8 to 24 inches, so were large mushrooms. They matured in the Fall of the year and were very abundant where we happened to live.

I would never encourage anyone to pick and eat wild mushrooms without being sure of what one is doing. There are many look-alike mushrooms, and some are very poisonous. Be safe, rather than sorry!

Importance

Perhaps you will look at mushrooms in the stores or growing wild with a little more understanding of the important nature of their job.

To recap:

  • Mushrooms are a source of food.
  • They help break down decaying organisms and redistribute nutrients.
  • There are medicinal uses for mushrooms, and they are also used in some cases of toxic waste cleanups.

Hopefully, you have enjoyed these pictures of the various types of mushrooms, fungi, and especially all the wild ones provided so graciously by my cousin Bill as well as those taken by me.

A friend sent me the photos below and wants to see if anyone can identify this type of mushroom. They look similar to an underbaked pizza. If anyone reading this knows the answer, please use the comment section below to write the name of them. Thanks!

Sources and Further Reading

Evans, Christopher. (2021). "Edible wild mushrooms are more than just your next meal." U of Illinois Urbana-Champaign – Illinois Extension, https://extension.illinois.edu/blogs/naturalist-news/2021-03-26-edible-wild-mushrooms-are-more-just-your-next-meal.

Fischer, David W. (2018). "The Basics of Mushroom Identification." American Mushrooms, https://americanmushrooms.com/id.htm.

"Mushroom." (2022). Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mushroom.

"Mushroom ID Help." (n.d.). Cascade Mycological Society, https://cascademyco.org/mushroom-info-menu-guide/mushroom-id-help/.

Ostry, Michael E., et al. (2010). "Field Guide to Common Macrofungi in Eastern Forests and Their Ecosystem Functions." U.S. Department of Agriculture – Forest Service, https://www.fs.fed.us/nrs/pubs/gtr/gtr_nrs79.pdf.

"Types of Mushrooms: Pictures and Mushroom Identification." (n.d.). Green Nature, https://greennature.com/mushrooms/.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is a mushroom, a mushroom or a fungus and if so what might have caused it?

Answer: All mushrooms come from the fungus family but not all fungus is a mushroom. Mushrooms reproduce by the dissemination of spores. Mushrooms get their nutrients from dead and decaying organic matter. So if spores have been spread by a mushroom it may lie dormant until such a time as it can start its composting of some type of available material.

Question: What causes mushrooms to appear in the yard?

Answer: Mushrooms like to grow on decaying matter. They also thrive in moist and humid conditions. If your yard is shaded and has heavy soil such as clay, and has poor drainage, you are more likely to see mushrooms growing.

Question: I have a dead oak that has been carved in my front yard. I have a horrifying growth of white/tan mushrooms surrounding the tree base. I have dug them up and applied fungicide to the base, but they return in greater numbers each year. They are tall, and the stalk is thick, some as thick as a man's thumb. I don't want them to consume and rot out the base of this beautiful carving! Can I use lime? Gas? Fill in with cement? Help!

Answer: You may be pleased to know that your mushrooms may be helping to protect and nourish the roots of your tree. Look up Mycorrhiza on Wikipedia to learn more. In most cases, those types of mushrooms are symbiotic and improve soil conditions. It would be almost impossible to eliminate the massive underground network of fungi. If I am correct, you would not want to do so in any case.

Now if you had mushrooms growing directly on your dead tree carving, that would be different. That type of fungus would be actively doing its job of helping to decompose the wood. I hope this helps!

Question: How do I get rid of mushrooms, and how do I know if they are poisonous?

Answer: Just plucking mushrooms from your yard will not necessarily get rid of them since much of it grows below the ground. That being said, it can help. If you let a mushroom mature, spores will be released which can cause more mushrooms to grow. Digging them out and removing their matted roots below the ground can help. Do not throw mushrooms onto a compost pile. Instead, put them into a plastic bag and discard in the garbage. Make sure your ground drains well and has no standing water. Add sand to heavy clay soils. Aerate your lawn. De-thatch it. Remove decaying branches, grass clippings, pet waste and the like. Soapy water can sometimes help to eliminate mushrooms as can nitrogen fertilizers.

As to how to know if a mushroom is poisonous, that is not as easy to answer. Just assume that most of them are poisonous to be on the safe side. If you intend to consume them, read books and consult with experts. There are many edible mushrooms, but there are also many that are poisonous. Some of them look similar. I would rather err on the side of safety. Hope that answers some of your questions.

Question: What are the penis-shaped mushrooms growing under my tree?

Answer: That phallic-shaped mushroom which has a foul odor much like rotting flesh has the name Phallus impudicus. It is also known as the common stinkhorn. Flies and other insects are attracted by its smell and are responsible for spreading the spores.

Question: I found a mushroom growing in my yard. The mushroom has a flat tan top with yellow gills, do you know what it could be?

Answer: From your description of a tan top and yellow gills, it might be a Boletus subtomentosus (Yellow-cracking Bolete), but it could also be something else. I would hesitate to give you a definite answer as to what type of mushroom you are describing.

Question: After having an egg color from the beginning, what causes wild mushrooms to become dark in color?

Answer: As most mushrooms age they slowly turn darker in color.

Question: I am trying to identify a mushroom that no one seems to know anything about. White soft ball, somewhat slimy, grows under soil then gets bigger and bursts open with red loops that break the ground. They end up with 4 loops that meet in the