Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Urban mushroom diary - 14 - autumn 2017

Urban mushroom diary - 14 - Rotterdam, autumn 2017
I'm always looking for city mushrooms in nature and culture. Interesting how fungi take over the world.

Around the 23 September 2017 there was a massive emergence of urban fungi. The first sighting was in a elfin shop in Dordrecht, where they sold pleasant Amanita Muscaria houses.
This clashes with fungal reality, where shapes can be fiendish, ugly and evil. I was pleasantly surprised by these monstrous mushrooms next to the bicycle lane in Rotterdam: Helvella crispa. No, they're not broken, they're intended to look like this. And they contain a spooky poison:
Some mushrooms contain a toxic chemical called gyromitrin which is converted to monomethylhydrazine after digestion. Mushroom species from this group include certain species of Gyromitra, Helvella, Sarcosphaera and Peziza. Poisoning may occur from inhaling fumes from cooking mushrooms. The amount of toxin varies amongst and within species but some are toxic enough to cause death.
On the other hand, there are edible and good mushrooms next to a parking lot. Still they look spooky when they ripen. The black ink is the ripe spore mass of this mushroom: Coprinus comatus. Recently this mushroom has become popular in alternative medicine. 
And there's also another species of Coprinus: Coprinus atramentaria in the local playground. This one is edible but becomes poisonous when combined with alcohol.
On 14 October I saw this mushroom again, now in the center of Rotterdam, between the bicycle path and the car lane. If you think of fungi as plants (they're not) then these must be the weeds of the fungal kingdom, the nettles and the thistles that thrive on fertile soil.
Finally there's the Agaricus bitorquis growing between the pavement cracks of our local shopping mall.
It grows from the tiniest cracks and reaches enormous sizes. They reached their biggest size around 3 October or in 10 days. The mushroom is edible, but I would be afraid of all the dog poo that feeds these mushrooms. I used to see this mushroom in Rotterdam in July-August but I must have missed it this year.
Finally there's the unavoidable mushroom that's impossible to determine. Most of them are and they will remain nameless. It could be Cyclocybe aegerita. It does not look like Panellus, Lyophyllum, Pholiota nor Psilocibe (Hypholoma fasciculare).

Urban mushroom diary:
1:Start of the obsession, books, lawns, 2:Dreams, lawns, books and newspapers, 3:Gouda shop windows, 4:Rotterdam lawn, 5:Hoek van Holland wood, 6:Autumn newspapers, 7:Switzerland to Rotterdam, 8: Warffemius mushroom paintings, 9: Münster, documenta14 and Rotterdam, 10: Spore prints, 11: Dead man's fingers, 12: The lower Rhine, 13: Oostvoorne, 14: Rotterdam.

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