It was a wonderful year for mushrooms in Nova Scotia. By late September they were as thick as thieves and you really had to watch your step down around the boathouse. Whereas some adventurous folk might find it fun to forage mushrooms for culinary purposes, I am more inclined to dwell on the side of caution and leave them to the squirrels. Here are a select few photos. Of the mushrooms, not the squirrels.
Aah, the lowly puffball. Also known as the common earthball. These are the fun mushrooms (no not that kind of fun!) When they are mature they become dry and break open, sending off spores in a black cloud. When I was little my siblings told me that they were called horse-farts and we would run around a field hunting them down to be stomped upon to release that little black cloud for our delight. I was older than you’d think before I learned that these marvelous little specimens didn’t come out of a horse’s bum.
I googled these for hours and hours, well, fifteen minutes maybe, and was still in the dark as to their name. Were they a form of merasmius or maybe mycenoid? Google lens told me that that they are another kind of horse fart; the lycoperdon lividum, but I think they might be young amanita. Of course I could be wrong about this. The problem with identifying mushrooms is that they can look quite different when they just pop out of the ground when compared to their mature selves. I suppose it really doesn’t matter what they are named if you don’t plan to eat them.
And if you are eating them, sometimes it’s just enough to know what kind they aren’t. Google Lens told me that this next specimen is a deathcap mushroom. One of the amanitas. Or is it amaniti? Whichever, they are not to be nibbled. Never ever nibble an amanita.
There are dozens of amanita mushrooms on my boathouse grounds. They come in all shades from white to red. Some have bumps, some have not.
This amanita is your classic fairy-tale mushroom. They just look like so much fun on a stick. Not so much fun later when you are getting your stomach pumped out. Yes, beware the amanita, they are very powerful. For example:
This amanita was so strong it stopped a moving car!! Did so.
Now despite it’s scary name, witch’s butter mushrooms are actually edible and have been used for medicinal purposes as well, but only if boiled or steamed first. I think frilly fungus would be a more apt name.
The turkey’s tail is a polyphore. Yup. They are okay to eat if you have good teeth. These have also been used for medicinal purposes but just be aware they can upset your digestive system. They can also darken your fingernails if you’re looking to adopt that style. Best left out of the turkey dinner in my opinion.
These were the most mysterious mushrooms of the season. They were also my favourite as they had a weird glow about them, almost as if they were lit from within. I still have no idea what they are. My closest guess would be the bleeding fairy helmet. Google lens was no help at all; it thought they were either plums or baby squid. Anyhow, they look pretty high on the danger scale; I wasn’t even tempted to touch one to see if it was soft or slimy. Let me know if you are familiar with them but even if you say they are okay, I won’t be eating one. Nope. And I challenge you to give them a nicer name than the bleeding fairy helmet.
© Judy Parsons 2021