This giant family of mushrooms photographed in Rochester NY, have prospered by setting themselves up in this ideal location. Nestled at the foot of this tree, on the shady side of town, where they don’t have to deal with any hot sun. Even so, each mushroom still fights for it’s fair share of light by either climbing higher or further out than its relatives. They get their nutrients from whatever leaf litter that falls from the tree and degrades into the rich soil below. They will each make millions of microscopic spores in the gills hidden underneath their caps, and eventually release them into the wind to find a new home next year.
This picture perfect fungi was spotted while hiking in Quebec. I am always on the lookout for a beautiful mushroom to photograph, which usually results in me lying on the ground with my camera, this one however was on the side of a tree. I have yet to see a cartoon-style red toadstool with white spots which are common in the UK, but hopefully one day. Fungi are a fascinating group of living organisms which behave differently to plants. They begin from a tiny microscopic spore which needs nutrient rich soil to grow, as it cannot make energy from chlorophyll like plants. Unlike plants and animals which use mostly cell division to grow, a slow and energy consuming process, mushrooms grow quite fast. Their ability to grow fast is because their cells balloon in size by drawing in large amounts of liquid, and is also why mushrooms need to grow in wet and humid areas. They are essentially a water balloon of about 90% water, and can be easily dehydrated and rehydrated for storing and cooking. Needless to say not all mushrooms are safe to eat, so never touch or eat wild mushrooms unless you know for sure that it is a safe kind of mushroom to eat.
Sometimes I think my husband believes I’m crazy by how excited I get when I see a decaying tree trunk full of perfectly formed sprouting mushrooms. I think they’re absolutely adorable, and I mustn’t be the only one. I can see why people have often drawn fairies sitting atop mushrooms and toadstools. They seem like the perfect playground for teeny fairies to bounce across, and shelter under when it rains.
Mushrooms are also a perfect example of how death gives rise to new life. In the rainforest, every time a tree dies it gives life to millions of other organisms and its legacy lives on. I hope some of you share my delight in photographing mushrooms, and if so, please share a link to your photos, as I would love to see them!