‘Shrooms At The Farmer’s Market

This southeast corner of Arizona is known for its pleasant weather. Even if an afternoon gets hot, like this one has, the mornings are uniformly delightful. This morning while the air was still cool I drove over to Warren to the weekly Farmer’s Market.

Vendors were still setting up and laying out their wares when I arrived. I walked over to the Spadefoot Nursery display. I wanted to tell the proprietor how lucky I had been with the Arizona Sycamore he had sold me two weeks ago. The rains came at the right time for that tree!

In a grassy area nearby I noticed a splendid fruiting of a white mushroom with nicely-arrayed universal veil flecks ornamenting the surfaces of the caps. A family gathering which was a pleasure to see:

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I stooped down and picked one, turning it over so that I could examine the gills. They were snowy white, and a ring or annulus surrounded the stem.

Perhaps an Amanita? I consulted with a man who had approached me, a fellow fungus fancier. He thought Amanita was most likely.

Why hadn’t I remembered to bring my camera? Cursing my forgetfulness, I drove back into Old Bisbee, ascended the twenty-five steps to my apartment, and drove back to Warren with the camera.

As I walked back to the patch of mushrooms I saw a group of young boys looking at the fungi. One boy drew his leg back to kick the largest one over. I was right behind him, and I loudly said “No!” in stentorian tones. The kid jumped, startled, and didn’t kick the mushroom. I admit I got a perverse kick out of that!

I kneeled down and got out my camera. Several young children and a few adults surrounded me in a circle. I suppose this may have been a novel sight. I’m shameless in the presence of my fungal friends.

Here’s a youngster, an immature ‘shroom which hasn’t expanded its cap yet. As the cap expands the partial veil, a diaphanous membrane which covers the gills, ruptures and the remnants of the veil form the ring around the stem. A comparison could be made with the somewhat analogous rupture of a virgin woman’s hymen, but I digress…

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I think that the semi-regular patterns formed by fragments of the universal veil, which once enveloped and protected the entire mushroom, are quite appealing. This next one looks like one of the chitinous giant planets, Planet Amanita. The polar veil-cap is quite prominent in this shot:

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One of the young boys picked up the mushroom I had picked earlier. He said:

“Mister, mister! Why don’t you take a picture of the other side of the mushroom?”

A good suggestion! Here is the shot I took:

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One last photo, a pair which may live long enough to release spores, if the boys leave them alone!

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Larry