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Posts Tagged ‘toadstools’

fungi 10

Fall is an excellent time to see fungi in Nova Scotia’s woods.  Whether growing on the ground or on decaying trees, these life forms are varied, with some species being edible.

fungi

Of the ten types of fungi I managed to photograph in my yard in the past week, I am only confident of the identification of one, the orange jelly at bottom centre which is considered edible if boiled.  Even with the use of an Audubon field guide, I’m still wary of my ability to correctly identify the less colorful varieties.  Despite minute differences, they all look so similar to one another.

Although a distinction is often made between mushrooms and toadstools, with toadstools often considered toxic and with a tapered (as opposed to straight) stalk, there is no scientific basis for this.  The edibility of mushrooms is best determined by experts rather than through trial and error.  The adage that there are old mushroom pickers and bold mushroom pickers, but no old, bold mushroom pickers is probably true. 

fairy rings and toadstools by richard doyle

Due to the poisonous and hallucinogenic nature of some fungi, they have often been given magical properties in art and literature.  Faeries and gnomes are frequently depicted beside toadstools as in the 19th century painting of Fairy Rings and Toadstools (shown above) by Richard Doyle.  I once came across one of these ‘fairy’ rings in my yard.  They originate in the growth of fungi around the outer edge of the decaying underground roots of old trees.  It seemed pretty harmless in the light of day, but who knows what magic transpired in its midst during moonlit nights.

fungi with copper pennies

Copper penny test to determine toxicity of mushrooms as per Wind's comment

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yellow foliageSunny yellow foliage is making its appearance on the Nova Scotia landscape.  Birches, poplars and tamaracks all transform into bright gold at this time of year.  Hot summers will often turn the leaves a dry brown before they have a chance to become yellow, but this summer’s plentiful rains and cooler temperatures promise golden hues this fall.

Some areas of the countryside change colour before others.  Some transformations from green to yellow are gradual, while others seems to magically happen overnight.

In the woods, toadstools have popped up in shady spots under trees.  There is quite a variety of them in the maritime woods, but the yellow ones are especially eye-catching and pretty.  I’m not sure if the ones in the photograph below are Yellow Patches or Yellow-orange Fly Agaric.  Both are considered inedible. 

toadstools and goldenrod

Golden rod flowers are still in bloom although many have now turned a dull brown.  They’ve been a sign heralding the end of warm days since I was a child.  Perhaps they steal and absorb the last bits of sunshine, keeping the final rays of warmth in their roots until spring.

yellow ribbon

Like many families with loved ones on tour, a yellow ribbon is displayed in the front yard.  My son Kip arrived in Afghanistan this past week.  The yellow ribbon is a reminder to keep him and other troops in thought and prayer during their period of deployment.  We look forward to his safe return in the spring.

A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite tender sky,
The ripe, rich tints of the cornfield,
And the wild geese sailing by;
And all over upland and lowland,
The charm of the golden rod; –
Some of us call it Autumn,
And others call it God.

~ Willian Herbert Carruth

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