Sometimes I think fungi in the genus Aspergillus just have more get-up-and-go than other fungi. Some are good, and sure, some are evil — you just have to admire their audacity. Turns out one particular Aspergillus is a notorious enemy of birds, and can even take down a powerful raptor like a hawk or falcon in a matter of days. Read on for more about falconry and fungi in this post by Abby Duvall.
Old and well-loved cats get infections sometimes. Here is the story of Percy, a cat who has battled several different attackers in the last little while: two fungi, a mystery cat, a virus, and a bacterium. He even generously shared one of them with his human family. But don’t worry, they’re all OK now.
The very coolest mushrooms of all are the ones that glow, don’t you think? We don’t know, yet, how they do it, but perhaps there are a few different mechanisms, because we infer that bioluminescence has arisen multiple times over the course of evolution. Why? Well, we have some ideas. These mushrooms remain mysterious though: we don’t know exactly why or how they glow, but they do glow, and that is excellent.
The fungus Fomitopsis officinalis has a long history of use in North America and elsewhere, both as medicine and as a medium of ritualistic art. Read about Agarikon and its uses, and follow Fungi Perfecti President Paul Stamets on a successful expedition to find this rare mushroom.
Although surely many Native American peoples were experts on fungi, we have little knowledge of how they used them, particularly the more ephemeral mushrooms. Here’s a primer on three different bracket fungi (conks) used by some native peoples.
Many tasty mushrooms aren’t hard to culture, if you know the tricks. Here is our illustrated primer on making a clean tissue culture of a wild or cultivated mushroom. Later you can try to get it to fruit in your basement or backyard!
Milky caps are distinctive mushrooms that “bleed” milk when you break them. So it’s easy to recognize the genus, Lactarius, but it’s often tricky to identify the drab ones to species. Here’s one that smells like maple syrup, or fenugreek. But although it smells like things you can eat, don’t eat it, or you’ll be sorry.
King boletes are among the most delicious of mushrooms, so why is it that I am so bad at finding them? Some of their sisters are also delicious edibles; a few are not so good. This piece is not so much a guide to boletes, but rather an account of how to eat them.
Fungi tend to be small, soft, and ephemeral — properties that don’t exactly help establish a strong presence in the fossil record. But they certainly have been around for a long time (perhaps 4 billion years?). Here we explore some of the fungi of the distant past, including some molds preserved perfectly in amber for tens of millions of years.