The Mushroom Trail

On Sunday we headed off the island to the nearby Holbrook Sanctuary for a hike. The Sanctuary has a lot of trail options that we haven’t tried yet, and the middle of a three-day weekend was a good time to experience a new one. We chose the Mountain Loop trail, which promised to offer what we like about hikes: a pleasant ramble through the cathedral of trees, where you can enjoy surroundings so peaceful and quiet that even a whisper seems like a shout.

It quickly became clear that, at this time of year at least, the Mountain Loop trail could also be called the Mushroom trail. We saw lots of mushrooms of all shapes, sizes and colors, from a bone white that stood out sharply against the prevailing browns and greens, to a bright orange shooting up from the moss, and finally a harvest gold to brighten the side of the trail.

When we started our hike we wondered if any of the leaves on the trees would be starting to turn. They really weren’t, although some of the ferns in the forest were showing some colors along the edges of their fronds. But who needs fall foliage when you’ve got mushrooms to brighten the forest floor?

August Toadstools?

Here’s a visible sign of just how unbelievably wet this August has been — a bumper crop of ugly toadstools has sprouted in Schiller Park.  A few days ago I jokingly posted about all of the rain we’ve been getting, and wondered whether the next thing we would see was mushrooms — and now they’re here, effectively mocking my idle attempt at humor.

Toadstools, in the middle of what is traditionally one of the hottest, driest months of the year?  I almost hesitate to ask this, but what’s next now — snow?

‘Shroom Sighting

IMG_6860Yikes!  There are some gigantic mushrooms — or perhaps toadstools? — at Schiller Park.  By the way, how do you tell the difference between edible mushrooms and poisonous toadstools?  The answer, for me at least, is that I don’t even try — but I’m betting these bad boys fall into the latter category.  They look pretty nasty.

Summer ‘Shroom Season

IMG_6147Here’s a tangible sign of just how ridiculously cool and wet our summer has been so far — this morning, July 11, our flower beds are filled with these ugly gray toadstools.  They typically show up during the damp spring months but are long gone by mid-summer.

If we ever get a period of prolonged sunny, dry weather — which is a big if in Columbus right now — I will take great delight in seeing these unsightly monstrosities wither and die.

‘Shroom Season

It’s been a wet and humid few weeks in central Ohio, and we now have some unexpected fungal visitors in our front yard.  It’s the first time I can remember finding mushrooms in the lawn itself, as opposed to in the shady and damp areas underneath trees and shrubs in our flower beds.

These are two of a number of rapidly growing mushrooms in the yard.  Because I know almost nothing about mushrooms, I decided to see whether I could figure out what kind of variety these mushrooms are — and whether they are edible.  To my wholly uneducated eye, they look pretty much like the mushrooms you buy at the grocery store.

From my examination of the photos and descriptions on this website, I’m guessing that these are “meadow mushrooms.”   They clearly aren’t Morels, Chanterelles, giant puffballs, or “Shaggy manes,” and they don’t have the bumpy caps found in other varieties.  According to the website, if these are “meadow mushrooms,” they are edible.  The website also helpfully adds, however, that there is “no test or characteristic to distinguish edible from poisonous mushrooms.”  Given that mushroom poisoning can be fatal, I’m not going to take a chance on eating these buggers.