Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Destroying angel

About two miles from my house is an old cemetery. Actually, it's three old cemeteries placed on one piece of property. Seventeen years ago, when we first moved to this neighborhood, it was a terrifying place to walk, not because it's a cemetery but because of a lawless attitude among the people who walked their dogs there. I had several bad experiences with self-righteous people and aggressive dogs on the loose, so I found other places to walk. According to the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery website a group of volunteers had just begun to care for and restore the neglected property. While I walked in local parks and in my neighborhood, they worked hard to bring order back to the cemetery, so that it's now a favorite destination for many people and dogs in the neighborhood.

A few years ago I found my way back to the cemetery and discovered that the very old Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) trees that are the majority of the trees in the cemetery have attracted many fungi.

Two of the most deadly poisonous mushrooms of our area both fruit in the cemetery. In the fall and early winter Amanita phalloides, also known as the Death Cap can be found, sometimes in large numbers. Last weekend I found the first of the Amanita ocreata, or (Western) Destroying Angel. So far, only a few have shown themselves, but in past years they've been quite plentiful at the beginning of spring and I hope to see more before the end of mushroom season!


  1. Your comments on the old cemetery brings back good memories. I was in college and hitch hiking Europe with a girl friend. Somewhere near London we found an overgrown cemetery behind a high wall. We found a place we could climb over the wall and explore the old place. It was wonderful.

    I'm glad yours is close to home and has become safe to wander in. You find such treasures amongst the fungi.

  2. They looks good enough to eat. I can see why they get mistaken for the ones from the grocery store.