Exploring the magical world of mushrooms


Mushroom hunters have been swarming lately through the woodlands across southwest Ohio. They are in quest of morels, the elusive edible mushrooms that pop up for just a few weeks during the spring.

There are hundreds of different kinds of mushrooms that grow in Ohio and throughout the midwest. Most of them are not edible but they are certainly fascinating to look at. If you are interested in finding out more about them there’s an excellent new illustrated guide available called “Mushrooms of the Midwest.”

It was written by Michael Kuo, the man behind the website MushroomExpert.com. He’s also the author of another book, “100 Edible Mushrooms and Morels.” His co-author Andrew S. Methven is a mycologist, an authority on mushrooms. This is the second book they have written together. The previous one was “100 Cool Mushrooms.”

This large format book has color photos and descriptions of 557 different types of mushrooms that grow here in the midwest. The authors note however that even with this guide “that mushroom identification can be difficult, very technical, and sometimes impossible.”

The unidentifiable mushroom you could discover may actually be unknown to science. The authors note that if that is the case “it may be even more important to collect, document and preserve it.” This guide explains how to go about doing that.

Perhaps you are wondering how some varieties could still be unknown?

The authors explain that “this is a hard nut to swallow for those who have used field guides to identify trees or birds for example, and expect the mushroom world to be equally easy to penetrate. One doesn’t need a microscope to identify a North American tree, and plenty of field guides can be found that include more or less all the tree species native to the continent.”

This could become a thrilling challenge-when it comes to mushrooms we are still finding new varieties because nobody actually “knows how many mushroom species there are on the continent.” On the front cover of the book there’s a photo of those familiar, delectable morels. Inside the book you’ll find many fungi that are totally unfamiliar.

I have a friend who helps me positively identify edible mushrooms found in my yard. He showed me some Coprinus Comatus, nicknamed “shaggy manes.” They are delicious if you can find them in the button stage. He also found some Laetiporus Sulphureus.” These grow during the summer in large clusters upon oak trees. When young and fresh they can be savory if cooked thoroughly. They are often called the “chicken of the woods.”

Mushrooms feed the vibrant life cycles within our forests. The guide cites this example: “this fungus is one of the most prevalent and important decomposers in coniferous forests, producing brown rot residues that are essential to soils.”

“Mushrooms of the Midwest” piqued this reviewer’s interest in mycology.

The next time we’re hiking through the woods I’ll bring along this guide so I can try to identify the fungi we encounter. Who knows, we might discover a previously unknown variety? Let’s see, perhaps they will name it Amanita Mickuni? It will probably be poisonous but I do like the sound of it.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Springfield Entertainment

Comedy genius Jerry Lewis has died at 91
Comedy genius Jerry Lewis has died at 91

Legendary comedian, brash entertainer,  zany actor and dedicated humanitarian Jerry Lewis has died in Las Vegas at the age of 91. He died at his home at 9:15 a.m. , according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and confirmed by his agent, Variety reported. Lewis was born Joseph Levitch in 1926 in Newark, New Jersey to show business parents...
Madonna celebrates turning 59, posting first family pic with all six kids
Madonna celebrates turning 59, posting first family pic with all six kids

Photographed for the very first time! Pop star Madonna shared a debut family portrait Friday that featured her and all six of her children. The Material Girl posted the photo on Instagram following her 59th birthday party at a two-day, gypsy-themed celebration in Italy. From top left Rocco, 17,  David, 11, and Mercy James, 11, to the right of...
New biography about David Bowie reveals details of his wild life
New biography about David Bowie reveals details of his wild life

An upcoming biography of David Bowie reveals new details about the singer’s life, including some strange propositions, NME reported. “David Bowie: A Life” will be released Sept. 12. Written by Dylan Jones, the biography is described as “intimate a portrait as may ever be drawn” about Bowie, who died Jan. 11, 2016, after...
Taylor Swift wipes social media accounts; website goes dark
Taylor Swift wipes social media accounts; website goes dark

Taylor Swift has wiped her social media accounts clean, and fans of the singer are trying to figure out why, Billboard reported. On average, Swift has put out a new album every two years since her debut in 2006. Her last album, however -- “1989” -- was released in October 2014. Friday morning, fans noticed that Swift had deleted...
Former Yankees star Derek Jeter, wife welcome first child 
Former Yankees star Derek Jeter, wife welcome first child 

Former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was called “The Captain” during his major-league career. Now he can be called a dad. Jeter’s wife Hannah gave birth to a girl, Bella Raine Jeter, on Thursday, according to the verified Twitter account of The Players’ Tribune, which was founded by Jeter in 2014. The Jeters were married...
More Stories