Saturday, October 10, 2009

In the neighborhood


Where I live, the first mushrooms appear in civilization, specifically in the parts of town where people still water their lawns every night. As someone who's serious about the environment, I'm not a big fan of this practice. As someone who likes to find mushrooms I admit to some conflict. That said, I found a lovely little troop of Agaricus xanthodermus. Although A. xanthodermus and A. californicus can be found in the same places, I'm pretty sure of my ID because the base of the stipe bruised bright yellow when cut, as did the cap margins. It had a phenolic smell. I wondered what that was during my first year learning to identify mushrooms, then found out that it's the smell of the paste we used when I was a child. David Arora describes it as a terrible smell but it brings back fond memories for me, not the least because I liked the way it tasted as much as I liked the smell.

That brown blob on the right is one of my favorite fungi, an Earthstar (Astraeus hygrometricus), but it's young and hasn't unfurled to it's full glory yet. Or any glory. I found it at the edge of an alley underneath an old Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia). I'm hoping to convince it to open up here in my studio so I can draw it as it does so.

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