Fantasy of Fungi: Beauty Through the Lens of My iPhone
There is definitely a fungus among us. All around us, actually. Each morning as I walk my dog, I discover the newly birthed toadstools along my path. I took these photos with my iPhone X and I am definitely not a professional photographer. But I don’t have to be. I am captivated and totally enamored at how stunningly photogenic mushrooms are.
Odds are this will be one of the more unique, maybe even strange posts of the day, so take a short break from the mundane and ugly and I will show you a world right under our feet. One that the gnomes and smurfs live in.
Mushrooms are very cool, difficult for the amateur to identify and often delicious and sometimes deadly. Here’s an interesting fact, the Honey Mushroom (Armillaria ostoyae) has set the record as the largest single living organism on earth! This massive organism covers 2,384 acres (nearly four square miles) of soil in Oregon’s Blue Mountains. The fungus is estimated to be 2,400 years old but could be as ancient as 8,650 years.
According to plated.com, mushrooms make the list of the 10 most hated foods! But white chocolate made their list as well, so I am not sure who they surveyed for their stats. The only time in my life that I thought I didn’t like mushrooms was when I hadn’t tried mushrooms. I am very glad I was brave enough to try them. No looking back now.
One mushroom that I haven’t photographed, the death cap mushroom, found throughout Europe, is perhaps the deadliest of all mushrooms. Within 6 to 12 hours after consumption, violent abdominal pain, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea appear. Organ failure comes next, along with failure of the central nervous system, leading to coma and death in more than 50 percent of the incidents. Even more interesting, two noteworthy deaths involving the death cap include Roman Emperor Claudius in 54 CE and in 1534, Pope Clement VII.
The 1980’s got really obsessed with mushrooms. In 1981, blue Smurfs had my little sister glued to the television on Saturday mornings. Each Smurf lived in a hollowed out mushroom — pretty cute, huh? Nintendo had a thing for them also, in 1985 the coveted mushrooms in Super Mario (that made little Mario into big Mario) hit the scene. And speaking of ‘80’s, my mom had mushroom canisters in the kitchen. It was a short-lived trend for kitchen decor. I miss those canisters. I bet someone has a set on eBay.
Every Christmas season for years, my family would request that I make stuffed mushrooms. Which basically consisted of sausage, Ritz crackers, Velveeta cheese and the star of the show, button mushrooms. Not the healthiest hors-d’oeuvre at the table but the one that always disappeared first.
Fungi aren’t always beneath our feet. Clinging to tree trunks, they can be hundreds of feet in the air. These types are classified as bracket fungi or shelf fungi. They could possibly be staircases for gnomes.
What I hope you gain from this article is a whole new appreciation for wild mushrooms growing in nature. You may think after this post that I must be crazy or obsessed over mushrooms. But I really only began to notice their beauty and mystique when I started looking at them through the lens of my iPhone. Not very natural I know, but now I can’t help but look for them whenever I am out walking, not able to resist taking yet another photo of them. I truly hope you see the beauty as well.