Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Fungus Among Us

When we were at the cemetery last week, Louise and Nick spotted what looked like invading columns of fungi approaching from points on the south side of the cemetery.


We went over to investigate more closely and found that these dense clusters of light brown fungus were thriving at the base of trees that had been cut earlier in the year or were dead from some other cause. 

Thinking it would be an easy task to identify them, I went to the internet – but I had forgotten how many thousands of kinds of mushrooms exist in the world!  Finally I came up with a possible name for our invaders: amillaria tabescens, known to its friends as the ringless honey mushroom.


This fungus is actually growing from a root system underground and follows the course of decaying roots and branches of dead trees.  It is common in the fall, especially after patches of rainy weather, and we met all the qualifications for its survival: warm, moist soil, yummy rotting vegetation, and cozy shade.

It is very short-lived and has probably already dissolved back into the ground from which it seemingly emerged. But watching the natural phenomena come and go at Tolomato Cemetery is one of the most interesting features of visiting the cemetery.

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