Jack London described “The Call of the Wild” as many mushroom hunters would describe the hunt for wild mushrooms. The signs are everywhere, pointing the way. Every patch of woods begs to be explored and the experienced hunter reads the weather, trees and seasons like a clues on a treasure hunt. Each month renews the thrill of the hunt with a fresh checklist of treasures to find along with the pursuit of the unknown.
To others, however, its foolishness and a complete waste of time, even dangerous.
For some people, the call of the wild is more of a warning bell, steering them clear of outdoor adventures. To them, a hike through the woods is completely unnecessary and is one of those activities that puts them at high risk of exposure to mud on the shoes/clothing and potentially snakes, spiders, and mosquitoes. Why would they ever stray away from the pavement? After all, it was put there for a reason.
The majority of people are found somewhere between these two extremes. Not everyone needs to become a botanist or even a citizen scientist, but it is my goal to take the blindfold off of those who have never really noticed the ecosystem around them and encourage exploration. Our ecosystem is a largely hidden world revealed by constant curiosity and a sharp eye. These qualities can be developed and nurtured over time.
Recently, I decided to share our local Western Pennsylvania ecosystem with a group of co-workers. Some shared my fascination with fungi while most were just being pleasantly polite. A good time was had by all, in spite of initial expectations. We spent a couple hours hiking in Mingo Creek County Park and found more than 30 species of mushrooms (photos and details about the species below).
|Genus / Species / Common Name||More Information|
|1||Amanita amerirubescens, The Blusher||Details|
|3||Baeospora myosura, pinecone mushroom||Details|
|4||Cantharellus lateritius, Smooth Chanterelle||Details|
|9||Daedaleopsis confragosa, Maze polypore||Details|
|10||Fistulina hepatica, Beefsteak mushroom||Details|
|12||Geastrum saccatum, “The Rounded Earthstar” puffball||Details|
|14||Hydnum repandum, The Hedgehog||Details|
|19||Neofavolus alveolaris, Hexagonal-pored polypore||Details|
|20||Omphalotus illudens, Jack O’Lantern||Details|
|22||Ramaria stricta, Coral Mushroom||Details|
|25||Scleroderma citrinum, Earthball puffball||Details|
|26||Scutellinia scutellata, The Eyelash Cup||Details|
|27||Stereum ostrea, False Turkey Tail||Details|
|28||Suillus americanus, Chicken Fat Mushroom||Details|
|30||Trametes versicolor, Turkey Tail||Details|
|31||Tremellodendron pallidum, False Coral||Details|
|33||Xylaria polymorpha, Dead Man’s Fingers||Details|