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Posts Tagged ‘mushroom’

I had no idea that Eastern Gray Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) liked mushrooms, but this squirrel certainly seemed to be nibbling on one when I spotted him on Wednesday at Green Spring Gardens. I love the way that he was holding the mushroom in his “hands” as he gently chewed on the stem—I think he may have already consumed the mushroom cap.

Squirrel and mushroom

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When I think of mushrooms, I usually imagine tiny, pale specimens growing in dark places close to the ground. I was startled, therefore, when I encountered this big, bold bright orange mushroom in plain view. The color was so vivid that I spotted it from a long way off and couldn’t help thinking at first that it looked like a smashed pumpkin.

It didn’t take too much searching on the internet to find this mushroom—its scientific name is Laetiporus sulphureus, but it is commonly known as the Chicken of the Woods mushroom. There are lots of recipes available for this edible mushroom, which can be sautéed, deep fried, baked, and may be used in soups.

I’m a chicken, though; when it comes to eating questionable things and don’t think I’d ever eat a mushroom that I encountered in the wild. The beautiful colors of this mushroom include the shades that I associate with autumn, which lets me enjoy it with my eyes, even if I won’t be putting it in my mouth.

chicken2_blogchicken1_blogchicken3_blogchicken4_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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What is this thing? If I squint my eyes a little, it looks like a weathered sandstone formation on the side of a steep mountain, with beautiful colors and textures.

When reality intervenes, I have to acknowledge that this is only a tree with some kind of growth on its side. I suspect that it’s a mushroom or some other kind of fungus, but I am not sure. Maybe it’s the tree version of a tumor.

Mostly, though, I don’t worry about answering my initial question—it’s not that important for me to identify what this is. I can enjoy its beauty in an abstract way by focusing on its shape and color and texture, by looking at the highlights and the shadows.

growth_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Walking through the woods yesterday, I stumbled across this mushroom bowl on a mossy log—so beautiful that I might call it “super,” but  probably need expensive market rights to call it a “super bowl.”

Seriously, though, I really do like the color and texture of the mushroom itself and the little splashes of yellow and green in the foreground. The snow in the bowl and to the side also adds a nice touch. If I remember correctly, this may have been one of the images when I used my camera’s built-in flash to throw a little light into the center of the mushroom bowl.

Until spring comes, I will probably look for more of these flower-like fungi to satisfy my desire to photograph beautiful inanimate objects (it takes more than birds and beasts to keep me satisfied).

winter_bowl_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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