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Hunting for Mushrooms: Local (Possibly Edible) Fungus in the Hudson Valley, NY


Plentiful rain and heat this season have turned my garden into a kind of North American jungle — it’s way out of control and the pleasure-to-work ratio is out of whack, too. This kind of weather is perfect for mushrooms and toadstools, though, so yesterday I decided to throw away my list of chores and take the dogs into the woods to hunt for interesting ones. Today’s blog is about fungus.

Come back! Life is not all shopping, eating and work, is it? As the poet said: “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.” We live in a beautiful part of the world, and some of the beauty is right there on the woodland floor, busily breaking down decomposing material, and possibly being edible.

I once foraged for chanterelles in the woods of New Hampshire, but those are the only fungus I can positively identify as not poisonous. It turns out they’re the only fungus I can identify at all. Indian pipe, the one discovery yesterday that I could name, isn’t actually a fungus; it’s a parasitic plant that takes its nutrients from a fungus, that in turn feeds off decaying wood. Fascinating… and a fine diversion from the chores that still await me.

I’m pretty sure none of the varieties I found on my ramble are edible. But aren’t they beautiful? Does anyone know what they are?

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