Sunday, June 9, 2013

Distant Cousin to a Toadstool

Apart from a broken well pump last week and a badly leaking hot water heater on Sunday, life in the backwoods of Florida continues to be interesting. Chores around the yard have to be kept up with, fighting the mosquitos is an ongoing battle, but some little oddity or rarity is always cropping up in the semi-wild corners of my backyard to keep me ever on my toes. Coming out onto the screened porch this morning I noticed what I thought was a single flower about four inches tall growing out of the bed of leaves just off the edge of the porch. Walking out and looking more closely I saw it was not a flower at all but a delicate mushroom of pale yellow that looked to be growing upside down with its gills on top of the cap. Too low for me to get a look at the underside without pulling it up, I left it untouched, too beautiful to disturb.

I continued to look out and admire the mushroom throughout the morning, once or twice approaching for a closer view, but as the morning cool wore off and the humid heat of a Florida June brought its weight, the fragile, flower-like mushroom wilted to the ground and within one hour was a dead and shrunken brown curl, unrecognizable from its former glory.

With no idea what kind of mushroom it was, I cruised around the Internet mushroom sites until I found what looked to be the nearest proximation. It was hard to get a solid fix on the facts of 'my mushroom' because none of the pictures or descriptions were consistent. After looking at a dozen sites, descriptions and photographs the best result appeared to be one called Pluteus admirabilis, commonly called the Yellow Pluteus.

The experts say that the Yellow Pluteus grows singly or in a group of several on decaying wood during the months from June through September. The one map I found showing areas or regions of this mushroom’s prevalence did not include Florida, but descriptions did mention sightings ‘in the south.’ The mushroom’s cap is from 1-3 centimeters wide, the stalk from 3-6 centimeters long and from 1.5 to 3 millimeters thick. When young the cap is a moist bright yellow that fades to yellowish brown in age. Looking at the photo of the Pluteus in my backyard you can see that the yellow goes from bright to pale from the center outward. The stalk is the same pale yellow. Too early for my short-lived specimen but the scientists say the mushroom produces a pink or salmon colored spore, that sprinkle of dust we sometimes see under or around mushrooms growing in the wild. 

The most interesting part? This little beauty is edible.

1 comment:

  1. As long as you don't throw some Death Cap mushrooms into your salad you'll be okay. If not, your stay in the country will be shorter than you planned. Yes, every day brings some different sight in the wilds: redbirds, squirrels attacking the feeder, hawks cruising for a meal, even delicate mushrooms popping up overnight. The secret to it all is after a time not taking it for granted.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America