Tuesday, April 5, 2011

afternoon mushroom walk

posted by Melissa

Amy called me this afternoon and offered a quick, spontaneous walk through a park to look for mushrooms.  So, I put off my homework, hopped into her Zipcar and headed down the street to Interlaken Park.  We found a few different types of fungi, and I am looking through the Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mushrooms to try my best guess at identifying them.  As I flip through the pages, I feel thankful that we are attending the mushroom identification class this month.

This one above appears to be Trametes versicolor from the latin for "varying in color."  Other names for it include Polyporus versicolor and Coriolus versicolor.  Its habitat is on dead or living trunks and wood, both coniferous and broadleaf.  It is inedible, but only so due to its texture.   And remember, this is my first attempt at identifying a mushroom...please correct me if I am wrong.

My best guess for this next one above is Peziza vesiculosa, from the Latin for "with vesicles" because of the crenulate edge and the outer surface.  (For those of you, that like me, do not know what crenulate means; the definition is: having an irregularly wavy or serrate outline.  I should have remembered that from Botany.)  It is fairly edible.  My book says its habitat is solitary on the ground where perhaps a large herbivores dropping had been.  But I found this right up next to a tree...makes my wonder if my guess is correct.

This one reminds me of the versicolor fungus from above, but it is much thicker and alone instead of layered.  And I think the green is moss, not a varying color of the fungus.  I just don't know what this one is.  The more I look, in the book and online, the more confused I get.  I am starting to wonder if it even is a mushroom.

Urtica dioica

We also saw lots of beautiful moss and patches of nettles (Urtica dioica.)  Nettles or stinging nettles can be foraged as well.  It can be used to make soup, or tea, or into a tincture.  It is often used to help with allergies, but also as a spring tonic offering lots of  nourishing vitamins and minerals.  People used to use the fresh plant to "urticate" themselves to alleviate arthritis pain, the stinging would counteract the pain offering a brief reprise from the aches.

It felt good to be "out in the woods" today, even if it was only a dense park within the city.  Everything is more magical, colors brighter, conversations easier.  There is less to compete with the flow of creativity and imagination that is constant in our minds, yet perhaps is often muffled by or overwhelmed by the activity of the city and suburbs.  Every time I step into the outdoors, even just far enough to where I can't see a house or a car, I wonder about the choice for convenience over the choice for space and tranquility.

Right now, I am happy where I am...but the questions arise nonetheless.


PS...we did see a man with a patchwork bag swung over his shoulder walking two dogs, and both Amy and I thought...for just a minute...that he was going to offer us some mushrooms of the hallucinogenic variety after Amy told him what we were doing hunting around off the beaten path.  Turns out, he didn't.  


Anonymous said...

WOW the colors in nature are so incredibly beautiful, great picture taking as well. I wish I could post the two I found yesterday in the woods to this site, but then again it is your site! This will be a very BIG month for you, nature and beginning school as well. I could not be more excited for you :) It happened so quickly, which is always welcoming experience, waiting not so much. Just jump into it and you are on your way. Enjoy learning about foraging, then come over here and forage for truffles! Melissa have a great school experience and ask for help when it's needed...it's working towards a for secure future for you and your family. Love and hugs, MOM

Melissa Baumgart and Amy Baranski said...


We'd love to post your photos on the blog. Can I grab them off of Facebook? Have you take a stab at identification?


Walking in the "woods" (the city woods) with Melissa yesterday late afternoon was really great, all of her herbalist training comes out so naturally.

Matty the Magic Mushroom Man said...

I have an irregular and wavy outline....
J/k. I do have a friend who is a serious mushroom expert. Let me know if you want to connect during this month's List item.

Melissa said...

as always, thanks, Mom :)

and Matty the Magic Mushroom Man....yes! hook me up.