Reflection 306: Wildness 6

August 15, 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Steve Perrin.    [Nine photos.]

This post deals with fungi from the top-down as we conventionally see them. The following post deals with them bottom-up as seen from underneath.

Fungi are creatures of the wild, forming relationships we know-not-of underground. Most of us don’t know what we don’t know about fungi. Except that some people eat some of them some of the time. A few of the most attractive are deadly if you do eat them, so we tend to shun them as of questionable character.

If it weren’t for fungi, many of our favorite trees would die of thirst. We’d notice that right away because we wouldn’t exist, either. Particular species form relationships with particular trees, the fungi supplying water to the roots of the trees in exchange for a share of the sap intended to nourish those same roots. That way, fungi don’t need sunlight or photosynthesis, so their fruiting bodies can assume any color that suits them. What we are most familiar with is the fruiting bodies (reproductive organs) of the various fungi, what we call mushrooms, whose job is to spread their spores to keep the race of fungi widespread and healthy.

People who hunt mushrooms are hunter-gatherers, which takes them into wildlands where most people don’t go. We now think of supermarket mushrooms being grown in basements in New Jersey and Connecticut. But the exciting ones have not been domesticated, and are worth a trip outdoors in spring, summer, or fall. I show a few of those in my neighborhood in the following photographs.

P1010340 96-fungi-top-1 P1010429 96-fungi-top-2P1010456 96-fungi-top-3 P1010459 96-fungi-top-4P1010352 96-fungi-top-5P1010358-96-fungi-top-6 P1010920 96-fungi-top-7P1010642 96-fungi-top-8P1010953 96-fungi-top-9

Wild as they are, these photos don’t capture the truly wild side of mushrooms, which is the side as seen from underneath the cap where a different world comes into view. I refer you to my next post, Reflection 307, coming up August 17. Meanwhile, stay engaged.

Y’r friend, –Steve

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