Summer Time and the Living is Easy

Summer arrived this year on the west coast at 3:51 am, June 21st.

The timing of the solstice depends on when the Sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator.

The word solstice is from the Latin solstitium, fromsol (sun) and stitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the Sun appears to stop at this time (and again at the winter solstice).

In temperate regions, we notice that the Sun is higher in the sky throughout the day, and its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming we call summer.

This summer solstice is the day with the most hours of sunlight during the whole year.

So, “what does this have to do with mushrooms?” you may ask.  Well, with the days getting longer, the air will be getting warmer and therefore the soil warmer. Temperature change  is one of the cues for mushrooms to start fruiting, especially when the temperature change also is accompanied with moisture. The same is true when the air temperature and soil temperature cool in the fall.

There are many other factors that are involved in the fruiting of mushrooms and I was hoping to be able to do a brief summary here on my blog. However, after reading several website, some fairly simplistic to others very scholarly and technical, it became even more confusing to try and pinpoint the factors that affect mushroom fruiting. Most talk about factors to be considered in the growing of mushrooms at home or commercially. I am more interested in understanding factors that affect the growth and fruiting of wild mushrooms.

If you are interested in growing some of your own,  this is one that I found.. http://www.wikihow.com/Grow-Mushrooms.

But lets get back to why I started off talking about the Summer Solstice.

My opinion is that many people have lost touch with the natural cycles of life and of nature.  There was a time, not too long ago, when knowing when the sun reached it peak movement in the sky, could mean you lived another year or not. When to plant, when to reap, when to collect wild plants, when to slaughter your stock was determined by the cycles of sun, moon and stars.

Modern life and contemporary culture has changed our need to be aware of the seasons. Today you can get almost anything  you need or want, 24 hours a day at the local “super market”. We have become less interested int he seasons to know when to harvest or when to sow, and more interested in “hockey” or “football” season. Even those sports have changed, as you no longer need real outdoor ice on the pond or real grass to play on.  Now we can sit in air conditioned domes, in our shirt sleeves and watch hockey until almost June. Our seasonal awareness has atrophied.

Myself and other mycophiles  know that with the coming of the solstice, the waning of the light will begin and soon the time of mushroom mania will soon be upon us.

So what am I finding out there? In my last post I talked about the ripening of the berries.  Just yesterday I had my first taste of some wild cherries and a couple of thimble berries. At home, my raspberries are  just starting to ripen, about 2 or 3 weeks early.

Here is what I have seen from the fungi world this month…

DSCN1551

 

Not a great shot, but this I found growing at the base of some young firs. At first I thought it may be a truffle, due to it’s dense dark interior. I imputed all the descriptors into Match Maker and came up with the following identification –  Scleroderma areolatum. A puff ball of some sort.

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These next two shots I believe to be some kind of agaric, but  could not do a positive ID.

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This last one I have found in great abundance in my back 40 the last three years. They grow in close clusters,  usually in large fairy rings in the moss at the feet of young firs. At first I thought it may be the fried chicken or Lyophyllum decastes, but they normally fruit in late summer.  I do have a patch of fried chicken mushrooms  that I have picked for the last three years, and though they look similar, they have a distinctly different smell. Matchmaker came up with the name Rhodocollybia badiialba. I am still not convinced this is the correct ID.

It has been dry but we have had rain the last day and more predicted for this coming weekend.  I hope this precipitation will encourage some more fruiting.

The other thing I want to talk about is a new book that I was gifted by Duane Sept titled  – Edible & Medicinal Plants of the North West.

 

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Another very good field guide written and photographed Duane. The book is  full of of great  colour photographs and clear descriptions of the plants, their habitat and their uses. both culinary and medicinal. I highly recommend you get a copy.

Finally, SCSHROOM is once again having a photo competition. If you are interested in entering, go to http://www.scshroom.org to get more information.

Solstice has come, the days are warm and lazy, the grass is lush the birds are singing. Get out there and do some exploring, get the lay of the land for this fall when the days are shorter, but the mushrooms growing high.

See you on the trails someday.  Coastalshroomer.

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