These are the first wild mushrooms I identify. This is in Seattle, WA just last fall. The greater region is mushroom heaven to many folks. Resources for mushroom identifying, cultivating, research, scholarship and enthusiasm are at one’s fingertip here. Plus the abundant mushrooms to be found in the region. Plus it’s Paul Stamets country. Plus Seattle was the point source for some very special spores, but sadly, not any more.
My first ID’d wild mushroom is a cluster of these growing out of the planted area of the Wallingford Post Office parking lot in Seattle late October. I get an easy one for my first one, and a rather magical one at that. If this isn’t the icon of mushrooms in depicted in fantastical splendor, I don’t know what is.
Then I go to a lecture on mushrooms from a biology professor (sorry, forgot who this was!) at University of Washington and learn about the magic and legend that surrounds the Amanita muscaria. The professor recommended the book Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality, no longer in print but available from used book stores. The story surrounding this mushroom is compelling enough that based on his recommendation, I buy the book. It’s thick and musty and sits on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. Still, what a cool nexus of finding the mushrooms popping out of a city parking lot and hearing about it’s legendary status in myth, lore and religion.
The following are some of the next mushrooms that I identify, with the help of mushroom books, Dr. Hildegard Hendrickson of the Puget Sound Mycological Society, and Mushroom Maynia at the Burke Museum. These are rather common ones but boy did they stump me and I quickly realize how difficult mushroom ID’ing can be.
Okay the Turkey tail is easy because it’s fairly common. But it took me awhile to ID the Corpinus micaceus, or Mica inky cap. It wasn’t until I took some home in a paper bag that gave me clues to what they were. They became an inky mess within hours, as Coprinuses are apt to do.
Peeking under the cap of the Coprinus micaceus, one sees the sparkly mica-like crystal-like things. The grainy things are on the caps as well. The Mica inky cap goes from this (above) to this (below) due to deliquescence.
The Cornell Mushroom Blog has a great page on deliquescence. And I fall in love with the word and the vast world of inky caps. I did this painting this weekend, illustrating some inky caps that I’ve encountered (and one that I have not).
So let’s deliquesce shall we? More posts to come, I’m playing catch up with this blog here.