Thursday, June 25, 2009

Heat + Moisture + The State Capitol’s Lawn

More photos from June 23, same day as previous post. It was a day for mushroom photography!

These are shaggy manes (Coprinus comatus) (I’m pretty sure that’s what they are—I really need a refresher course in basic mushroom identification. Or else I need to just do the work necessary to identify them correctly, since I’m so rusty—pull some up, take them apart, and seriously examine the structure, take measurements, make spore prints, etc. I’m mainly just lazy.)

These were growing in clusters in the southeast part of the capitol lawn, in a shady spot. Lord, I didn’t even take note of the surrounding trees! How observant.

But then we were distracted—the big Race Across America bicycle race was coming through Jeff City that evening, and we got completely sidetracked. Also, we were trying to get a little exercise, which my picture-taking was hampering. . .

So here are some more mushroom pictures for you. Plus a bonus shot of the Missouri State Capitol.

By the way, here’s a Web site that discusses the current revision of the “inky cap” mushrooms—it turns out that shaggy manes, for instance, are fairly closely related to the agarics (you know—that’s the large group of both poisonous and edible mushrooms that includes Agaricus bisporus, the “ubiquitous white button mushroom of the supermarket”).

Oh, another thing: that phrase about A. bisporus is sort of a recurring joke in the book In the Company of Mushrooms: A Biologist’s Tale, by Elio Schaechter (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997). I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is informative as well as spirited as well as vastly entertaining. One minute, you’re learning amazing things about these magical little chemical factories, thinking “wow!”; the next, you’re laughing at some weird human-fungi interaction; and eventually, you’re feeling reference, awe, and gratitude for these amazing organisms.

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