October 15, 2009 7:39 AM

Thank heavens it rained!

As I'm sure you all noticed, the storm on Tuesday was horrible, so why am I so glad it rained? Because mushrooms are popping up now! I'm in California Mushrooms, an upper division elective for Microbial Biology, and we have to collect mushrooms for our personal collection to turn in. We were supposed to have 50 points of our collection by this coming Monday, but it's been postponed to the following Monday. I was totally stressed out before Tuesday since it hadn't rained for weeks and the only mushrooms I could find were little brown mushrooms (LBMs) and they're extremely hard to key out.

Yesterday, I was just walking to class and I spotted these gorgeous marshmallow-looking mushrooms! They were white with a dark brown center and covered in small brown fibrils. I wish I took a picture of them, but they're in the lab drying now and by the time I get them back, they'll look quite different from when they were fresh. I can't remember the name of those off the top of my head, so I'll just leave you guys to wonder.

I also found some Bolbitius vitellinus on campus. They're these small, bell-shaped mushrooms that are bright yellow when they're fresh! Their common name is "Sunny Side Up." By the time I got them, though, they had dried to a light brown, but I could still traces of the bright yellow on the center of the cap and stipe (that's the stalk of the mushroom).

Over in the Eucalyptus Grove on campus, I found some more mushrooms! They were so beautiful just sitting there in the damp soil! I know I must sound slightly crazy or way too enthusiastic, but you have no idea how much delight you can get from discovering a cluster of cute little mushrooms beneath your feet. Well, not exactly beneath, because then you would've smashed them. :)

I can't wait to go on the class field trips to Mendocino and the Redwood Forest! I hear that there's a lot more variety up there. I really want to find a ring of Marasmius oreades, the fairy ring mushroom. Professor Bruns cooked some up in lab with some salt and margarine, and they were absolutely delicious! They had this great nutty flavor and none of the usual mushroomy taste. As I've said before, I usually detest the taste of mushrooms, but if I ever see Marasmius oreades and I manage to key it out correctly, you bet I'm going to cook some up for dinner.

So if I've got you interested in this California Mushrooms class, you can take it Fall semester of 2011. It's only offered fall semester every other year. If you get the chance, though, you should definitely take it!

Victoria Eng | Permalink | Comment on this article | Comments (0)

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