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The Amateur Mycologist #1 - Introduction To Mushrooms

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Mushrooms are some of the most astounding living things on the planet

The Kingdom of Fungi represents a completely different off-shoot of evolutionary progress than any other life on Earth.

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Any time you venture out into the countryside, almost everywhere you go, you can find evidence of mushrooms. They live beneath the grass you mow on the weekend, between the trees of your favorite park, between the cracks in city streets and sometimes, if given the opportunity, inside the walls and floors of your home.

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Unfortunately, Fungi also have a bad reputation. Especially in America, people tend to be afraid of mushrooms, believing wild mushrooms to be harbingers of infection, disease and poisoning. American cuisine features some mushrooms, but overhwelmingly consists of a single species of mushroom, Agaricus bisporus.

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You've all encountered Agaricus bisporus before, maybe you like them, maybe you hate them. Whatever you feel, they are only the tip of a gigantic iceberg. Even good old Agaricus Bisporus has a secret we will delve into later. The goal of The Mushroomer is to uncover what the rest of the Fungal kingdom has to offer.

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Each post will highlight a different specific species of mushroom. All of the pictures, unless otherwise noted, are OC and each mushroom we talk about has been, at some point, found by me, usually in and around New York City.

As we discuss each species, we will learn about where, when and how the species grows, whether it has historical or current practical uses, and the macro characteristics used to identify it: namely color, smell, cap structure and width, growth medium and a variety of other identifiers, sometimes even taste.

We may, at a later date, even toy around with microscopy and the identification of spores.

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Sometimes I will present a mushroom whose identity I am not entirely sure about. If there are multiple options, i will let you know what they are and, as the blog progresses, readers can even chime in with their opinions.

I will also indicate if a mushroom has a culinary use. However, I cannot recommend that you eat any found wild mushroom, no matter how sure you are it is an edible species. This is an issue of personal liability, yes, but it is also a testament to the real difficulty and confusion which wild mushrooms can create. Some safe wild mushrooms are very similar to some of the deadliest mushrooms on earth. As a result, even if I find a mushroom I am 99% certain about, i still don't eat it - and i suggest you do the same.

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Before we get started looking at individual mushroom species, we need to go over some mycological basics. That's what The Mushroomer #2 is going to be all about later tonight.

I'm excited to be able to share my enthusiam on this subject with all of you!

DBER

Source of Button Mushroom Picture

The Amateur Mycologist #2 - What Is A Mushroom?

The Amateur Mycologist #2 - What Is A Mushroom?