Friday, May 29, 2009

A-looky heeyah!

I was walking out of the lab today and came across this bright orange something. It turned out to be a chanterelle, the first I've seen in Alabama. All this late wet weather we've been having has brought out all kinds of strange things.

This one is most likely either Cantharellus confluens or C. lateritius. Bessette et al. have pictures of both but indicate that they may be a single species. The folds are not well developed, so they don't look very much like gills, as chanterelles are not directly related to gilled mushrooms in the strict sense. Chanterelles are some of the more 'easily identified' mushrooms, but as always, that's a relative term.

So what did I do? I said I wasn't going to eat it, because it looked a little beat up, but the more I looked at it and the more certain I became of my ID, the more it seemed to be crying out for some brushing off, chopping, and frying in Amish butter. So that's what I did. Just brush off the dirt (soggy mushrooms aren't very nice), chop, fry in butter with a pinch of salt. Dee-licious!

I'd almost forgotten how delicious fresh wild mushrooms can be. What a treat!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Hops are Free!

Good news, fans of craft beers! Governor Bob Riley has signed off on the "Gourmet Beer Act", which will allow for a greater diversity of beers in the state of Alabama. The Law previously restricted the sale of beers over 6.0 % alcohol by volume, the new limit is 13.9%. Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Here's a photo

Looks like ol' Turf Doctor's on the case there, eh?


So I'm going to try this mobile blogging. I went on a bike ride
between showers, and man, did I get worked to an embarrassing degree. I
did stop and smell the mushrooms, so to speak, including these
Ganoderma lucidum sporocarps. Now how do I attach photos?

Truth in aversion

Okay class, here's the question: what is wrong with the following statement "Unlike any ordinary vegetable or plant, mushrooms are actually members of the fungus family"

Pretty good for a layman, to acknowledge that mushrooms are not plants. But of course, the correct answer is that Fungi (yes, big F) are not a family, but a kingdom, in the sense of Whittaker's five-kingdom tree of life. Yes, Dr. Robert Whittaker, the same ecologist who monographed the flora of the Siskiyou Mountains straddling Oregon and California, he was the one who wisely deemed fungi not plants, at least he was the first to raise a decent stink about it!

Recall from your intro biology: Kingdom, Phylum (or Division, technically, since Fungi are named under the International Botanical Code of Nomenclature), Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. So we're only off by four levels in the hierarchy. And now we add domains above kingdoms, to really try and clarify things: Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya. Fungi (with a small f) being in the last with every other macroscopic organism.

In other, more local fungal news, be on the lookout for oak leaf blister! Personally, (and I confess to being biased) I think ugly is not an appropriate term for the blisters. Okay, maybe they're not particularly beautiful, even by my standards. The causal agent is Taphrina caerulescens, which is an ascomycete which doesn't produce an ascoma, but produces naked asci on the surface of the host. These fungi typically deform the plant that they've infected, as in peach leaf curl (caused by T. deformans), or if you've ever seen deformed alder cones (caused by T. alni). These are considered a basal lineage of ascomycetes.

Also, if you're looking for interesting and tasty ways to cook mushrooms, rather than rant about them, try The Mushroom Channel. It looks like we may get our links from the same source (Google News Alerts), but they focus more on the culinary side of things.

I want to note that a friend of mine recently told me she'd found some morels growing 'nearby'. This was in a site that she's had her eye one for years without seeing them. I guess the bounty of rain we've received has inspired them to sporulate. Bully for them!
And no, she wouldn't tell me where they were.

Update: 28 Jan 2011. I had to update the title of this post because the previous title was attracting spam like you wouldn't believe!