June 2015 has been consistent from a weather standpoint, wet and quite warm days with cooler humid nights. It appears Wakulla County’s July 2015 is heading in the same direction.
This consistent pattern portends a variety of events and activities based on environmental factors, social influences and scheduling conveniences for the residents of the area. The options are as varied as the individuals who reside here.
Since school is out, the beaches, springs and rivers are populated with those who appreciate the cooling prospects of a dip in the water. Many of these adherents are students enjoying the summer break.
For others who have aged out of this carefree existence, there is the requisite landscape maintenance of domestic life. The grass is growing and so is everything else that appreciates the summer climate.
Besides the plants, be they shrubs or weeds, there are fungi which are popping up randomly on a daily basis to populate lawns, decaying branches and the forest floor.
Technically not plants, fungi do not contain chlorophyll along with some other differences from the plentiful flora.
For many, the native mushrooms are the easiest fungi to identify. There are numerous examples of fungi growing in and on a variety of media in this region
Most fungi are unseen. Yeast is a beneficial microscopic fungus which makes bread and rolls possible. Athlete’s foot is another fungus causing discomfort to the human foot.
What is commonly identified as a mushroom is, in reality, only part of the fungus. The section protruding out for all to see is known as the fruiting body.
The fruiting body is the section which produces the spores for the next generation of mushrooms. This portion is the final stage of the mushroom’s life and may take only a few hours to complete.
Many of the native mushrooms are classified as having gills. This is the finned section under the cap and is the location of spore development.
Spores are usually distributed by the wind or in water when they reach maturity. Only a small percentage find an ideal location for growth and development.
Some mushrooms, such as the stinkhorn, use insects to spread the spores. Flies are attracted to this fungi’s foul odor and relocate the spores on their bodies as they travel to their next meal.
Most local mushrooms are white to a brown earthtone in color, depending on the species and the stage of life. A few produce bright colors which are influenced by the growing media.
The common species names for the local mushrooms usually indicates someone’s perception of the fruiting body. “Toadstools” could seat the small amphibian, and a “Bishop’s Nose” could be considered a compliment to a prominent proboscis.
There is a local mushroom known as the “Death Angel” which gives the potential results if eaten. Harvesting and consuming wild mushrooms is strongly discouraged.
Occasionally mushrooms are seen in an arc or circle which is identified as a fairy ring. Fables tell of the mythical beings dancing at the site the night before.
The truth is more mundane. The mushrooms are growing in the remains of a tree’s trunk or roots which are buried in soil.
At least the mushrooms existence is carefree, unlike the homeowner who has the urge to eliminate the fungal growth from their pristine landscape.
For more information on mysterious mushroom happenings, see this EDIS publication about Fairy Rings!