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A Forest of Mushrooms

I don’t know the mushrooms very well. That’s why, whenever I see an unfamiliar fungus, I ask Ranger Martha her opinion of what it is. Ranger Martha’s passion for and knowledge of fungi are far superior to mine.

I came across a “forest” of mushrooms growing in fresh mulch near the entrance to the Lemur Exhibit. I didn’t know the name of the mushrooms but the group made an interesting sight mixed in with recently transplanted horsetail (Equisetum).

Mushrooms in amongst the horsetail.
From the forest floor.

Martha assures me the mushrooms are Agrocybe acericola which are commonly found growing in mulch. I’ve read this particular mushroom is especially apparent in mulch which contains maple chips, though I don’t know the ingredients of the mulch used at the site. It may or may not be composed of at least some maple chips.

A common sight, mushrooms growing in mulch.

I’ve found two common names for the mushroom, Maple Agrocybe and spring or early Agrocybe.

Once they do their part in delivering the spores they will wither and fall back to earth.

Many mushrooms last but a day or two above the surface. What we typically see is the fruiting and spore dispersal phase of the fungi’s life cycle. Much of a mushroom’s life processes occur underground, from spore germination to hyphal combination to mycelial expansion and back around to the growth of the fruiting bodies and dropping of spores. We only see a part of what it takes to make a mushroom.