Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Carpe Fungi

Our teacher was my old friend Dennis Sheridan, who is a great photographer, mycologist, and entomologist. This is the bounty he collected this morning and spread out on our nature table. He gave me two candy caps to dry on my windowsill because "when dried, they emit a warm, maple syrup scent."

Today was perfect. Valentine's Day, 75 degrees, the gardens bursting with life, and a chance to go on a mushroom walk at one of my favorite places, the Dallidet Adobe (built in 1859) in San Luis Obispo, California.

The old adage is that a picture is worth a thousand words-so here goes. Look for the miracles hidden in plain sight and enjoy the beauty!

Look at the top of the photo and you'll see round shapes. These are called Bird's Nest fungus, and they produce little basidocarps (fruits) that look like eggs. These make my heart go pitter-patter when I find them.

Two adorable young girls collected these.

This is called Scleroderma for its hard skin.

You have to admit that this Russula is perfect for Valentine's Day.


Pig's Ear feels like latex and is supposed to be edible, but it didn't look very appetizing to me.
Maybe if I were desperate?

King Alfred's Biscuit. I thought it looked like a walnut, but when cut in half you can see the concentric circles inside it.
Elve's Saddle has an indentation in the center that makes each one resemble a small saddle.

This one sent me to the moon and back. This is an earthstar. When the weather is dry, it is a tight, hard, black ball, but when the rains come, the ball opens up and produces the star. Dennis gave me one, and I am going to soak it when my grandchildren come visit. It will open in about 10 minutes.

Coral fungus. Doesn't it look like coral plucked from the sea? This fungus likes to hide underneath rocks, logs, etc.

This is a blewit (short for blue hat). When it dries, it has a lovely violetish scent.

Carpe Fungi!!!


Dawn said...

Wow, this is so fantastic! I have always wished I could really learn the edible's always so magical to find wild mushrooms, but since I don't know poisonous from edible I always pass them up.
Thank you for sharing....that earthstar mushroom is amazing! Nature is so incredible...
Love, Dawn

Zuzana said...

What a great title! My parents were avid mushroom pickers and I recall we always went mushrooming in the woods when I was a child. Although I do not recognize almost none of those you list here, the pictures are wonderful.;)
I cannot believe you have 75F! Here we are in the Arctics right now.;)

Patti said...

What a fun and interesting day! Aren't God's creations amazing?

hens teeth said...

I did so enjoy this post. So interesting and informative. thank you. x

Unknown said...

Isn't funghi just beautiful! A lovely post thankyou!

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

I enjoyed the little walk with you, those are very neat pics! Cindy

FHCS said...

Well, hello Ms. Lovejoy,
Who would have thought that fungi could be so very interesting and smell so wonderful! I wanted to let you know that I picked up your ADORABLE new book Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars the other day. I am so excited about it and cannot wait to do some of the wonderful projects with my kiddos. I would like to do a post about it on my blog, with your permission. I think some of my readers would really enjoy it and I would like to spread the news about it. Leave me a comment if that is alright with you. Thanks for the interesting post...I think we will have to go on a fungi hunt soon to see what we can find! Have a great week and take care. Dee (from Farmhouse Country Style).

jenclair said...

What a lovely and informative walk! My favorite is the earthstar. What a nice gift to share with your grandchildren!

Courtney at SL's No Ennui said...

I've always been so curious about mushrooms, but I had NO idea there are so many amazing types!

I love your title. Very clever and catchy!

Erin | Bygone Living said...

Very interesting... I'm going to keep my eyes open from now on!

Anonymous said...

I know very little about fungi except we have native morels here. I love that dark earthstar. It make me want to get so close to see it more clearly. What a fun grandmother you must be.~~Dee

Beth said...

I can't believe the riches you found. I have always wanted to learn about mushrooms, but am a little bit scared!

Sharon...did you see all of the wonderful comments about your book at my giveaway? Lots of people wanted to be the winner! love, Beth

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Post Script dear friends,

Remember NEVER to eat wild collected mushrooms unless you KNOW what they are. Even Dennis, who has studied mushrooms for decades, is very, very careful.

In Maine chanterelles are routinely collected. A woman I know owns an island on the Damariscotta River, which is named Chanterelle Island (umm romantic).
Chanterelles are divinely tasty, but there are some look alike mushrooms that can make you sick.

Collect with an expert, and then let the expert eat them first.


Stephanie Roth Sisson said...

These are beautiful!

Kay's flowers said...

Oh my goodness! When I looked at comments on my blog yesterday and you had commented I was on cloud nine! I have been a fan of yours for so long and love your books. Thank you so much for writing. I visit your blog all the time but usually don't leave a comment but will start leaving them more often. Thanks so much for the encouragement. Gardening is such a passion of mine and its great to read about others passions too. Please come again soon.


p.s. Can't wait to get your new book.

Lori ann said...

Dear Sharon,
I feel like Kay, what a pleasure and thrill.

Mushrooms, fungi, i would add that not only would i collect only with an expert, and let him eat them first, but i would also wait 24 hours before trying any myself!

Such a facinating post, I had no idea there were so many different types of mushrooms. The photos are beautiful, and i can imagine that your illustrations would be even better!

♥ lori

Anonymous said...

The earthstars are like magic. The first year we moved to Tennessee, it rained a lot and we had an incredible fungi bloom late summer/fall. I remember the milk mushrooms/Lactarius indigo. When bruised they are blue. I would require an expert before I would eat them however.

Anonymous said...

The earthstars are like magic. The first year we moved to Tennessee, it rained a lot and we had an incredible fungi bloom late summer/fall. I remember the milk mushrooms/Lactarius indigo. When bruised they are blue. I would require an expert before I would eat them however.

Anonymous said...

Aren't they all fascinating..nothing like what we find in our forests here, but then we mostly looks for the edible ones...very greedy, we are..he he!I love seeing all these marvellous fungi..
PS: Have a wonderful 3rd birthday, how blessed you are to be able to share in it!!
R x

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Hi Sharon,
Everytime I open your blog, I am so thrilled to see that header! Oh, what a view you have and your studio is so charming! Don't forget to let me know when your coming to Wisconsin (LaCrosse). Hopefully, when it's nice out~!

Suzanne said...

I do wish I had paid closer attention to my grandfather when we out "mushrooming". He knew them all.

Kathi D said...

I was at the Farmstand Sale today, but missed seeing you (if you were there?). It was the mention of Dennis Sheridan that pricked up my ears (eyes) tonight, though. The Christmas stocking I hang up every year was made by Dennis' mother, as she was close friends with my later mother-in-law, who was not a sewer. Dennis' mom Betty was supremely talented in all kinds of crafty pursuits while rearing her equally talented offspring!

Michela said...

How many varieties!
Sharon, have a lovely week!

the wild magnolia said...


Christina at home said...

Thank you for the lovely post on fungi. I have always loved toadstools and thought that they were magical. I am inspired to find a mushroom walk outing in my neighborhood and take part.