Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Magnificent Phallus Indusiatus

This mushroom has many many names to it such as the; veiled lady, long net stinkhorn, crinoline stinkhorn, bamboo pith, bamboo fungus, and was previously identified as the Dictyorphoria Indusitaus. These suckers get there name from the veil hanging from the cap. Hopefully now you recognize one of those names! Alright, this mushroom is mostly found in tropical forests because of the rich soil in these locations. Their life span runs pretty short, they survive for about 12 hours and then end up back into the ground. They originally start off looking like an egg and then emerge, having a veil hang down from the top. This veil is referred to as a indusium. The indusium can grow to the ground or shrink back up to the cap which is interesting when watching in a time lapse. The cap itself can grow about 4cms around and is usually in different colors but mostly a brownish color.

The gross thing about these mushrooms is that they have such a strong smell in which it attracts other gross visitors like flies. Ahhh, how much we love flies. Wanna know something else interesting and gross? Many Asian cuisines and markets like to serve these as a tasty meal. Okay, maybe it's not that disgusting but if this mushroom has a strong foul smell then how can one eat it? Apparently, eating it is not enough because many places use it as a medicine to treat disease of gastric or of any inflammatory problem. This mushroom can also possibly help improve the central nervous system, crazy right? What caught my eye was its appearance, looking at this mushroom makes me think of a bride. I know you see it too! Have any mushroom requests, let me know and I'll do my best to fill you in on the scoop!

I Promise This Is Not A Rant!

How can one simply express their love for mushrooms? Well, let’s give it a go. Every single day, I walk to work. Some days, I don't even work but still stroll around the neighborhood on an adventure. I like to walk around taking pictures of interesting things which is basically what mushrooms are. Capturing that moment is amazing, to walk by the development of fungi is outstanding. I can't express it  so let me try to explain my love for them. Think about something you love. Have you thought of it? Maybe a hobby you have or something you like to do, well that's how I feel towards different sites of fungi. I think it's amazing how something that helps our world by being a decomposer or simply becoming a use as herbs or medicine is everywhere. I enjoy Humboldt County because many people here tend to go mushroom hunting. Since we basically are the mushroom town, we have perfect weather for it to so I can't blame people for loving it. I can't wait until I learn more about fungi so I can go on a forest adventure and identify as many as possible.

What can I not stand about fungi? Nothing really but we are facing a problem in the UK. There are illegal foragers destroying our beautiful fungi. This is what I cannot stand. Many gangs are picking all these fungi to sell to restaurants or other consumers. This is almost the same as cutting down trees, mushrooms help our environment! This is not only happening in the UK but basically anywhere that has a great growth in fungi, I just hate hearing about such destruction being caused. Half of the mushrooms these people pick get tossed away which is just unnecessary to begin with. I can rant about this all day but I'll save you guys by not doing that. For those who love fungi, keep it real and continue what you do because there is so much to fungi and mushrooms and even parasitic fungi. Many can learn and some people have created medicines from different types of fungi which is insanely interesting!

The Apocalyptic War Between Insects and Fungi!

Have you ever seen an ant turn into a zombie? The specific parasitic fungus is called Cordyceps, this uses the body as a shell to grow in and reproduce. In this ants case the ant is not living anymore. So what makes it cool and spooky? Well, once this fungus takes over it's victims body and controls its mind it will leave this ant doomed. For this ants case, it'll take about 3 weeks for the fungus to completely develop from the exterior of the ant. Usually spores appear first and the fungus breaks through its head and the rest of its body. Usually then these types of fungus effects the insect causing the host to climb to the tops of branches or leaves so then it can be eaten and continue its cycle. Something interesting about these ants is that once another fellow ant notices that one of his buddies has gotten the terrible fungus, it carries it away from the colony so none get infected.

Ants are not the only ones to get attacked,
our friendly snails have been targeted as well. A parasitic worm called Leucochloridium takes over the snails eyes. What do these
worms do? They pulsate causing the snails to look they're at a rave! The point of the pulsating method is to mimic a maggot or caterpillar so that it'll get eaten by a predator such as a bird. Once this sneaky fungi makes his way into the bird it will reproduce in its stomach.
This is where it gets pretty gnarly and gross, the eggs are released into the birds feces and you can only guess where this goes next. New snails come along and eat that up! So what happens next? The whole process happens over and over again, wiping out many snails. The fungi inside the snail usually grows from a white tissue into some sort of tumor. Next, this fungus leaves larvae inside of the snails eye stalks, and you can fill in the rest. To be honest, i'm left feeling bad for all these insects that die out.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Our Coffee Is Under Attack!

A devastating fungus has decided to attack our precious coffee, the one thing we all need in our lives! In Guatemala the disease among these plants is spreading fast, it's airborne and speckles on top of the leaves causing them to die and fall off. In 2012, the climate began getting warmer causing this "coffee rust" to spread easier. Argueta is now fighting this battle as well. These farmers are going to suffer do to the conditions, not only are their supplies going low but their money is rocketing down.  In El Salvador the rate of this fungus spreading is about 74 percent which is insane! In Costa Rice, the rate is at 64 percent while in Nicaragua, it’s at 37 percent. The lowest rate which is in Honduras is at 25 percent. All these numbers add up, if this is all you grow then it will be a huge struggle to keep your infected numbers low. Southern Mexico produces a lot of the region’s coffee and since this fungus is a problem, the government is going to sweep out all these terrible plants and replant them as a project to help those in need.

Did you know that about 54% of people in our nation that are over 18 years drink coffee? As a big seller, people will have to fight this fungus back with a kick. Just like Argueta, we will have to replace old trees that were grown to repel the rust. If you notice any problems or the beginning stages of this fungus then quickly replace those plants or even stump the tree. Meaning that you will remove parts of the trees that are infected to help them grow properly and healthy.  The main point is to inform those farmers growing coffee and allowing them to act fast! We shall not lose to this coffee rust!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Another Awesome Blog to Follow!

One of her awesome snaps of the Ink Caps!
I'm reviewing a fantastic blog called Mycologista by Lisa K. Suits, I had a difficult time trying to find a decent blog but instead I found an outstanding one. Why is this blog so amazing? Lisa takes her own pictures, it’s so natural. I feel as if I'm walking with her learning about all these different aspects on a specific mushroom. I love how simple her blog is too, you don’t have to worry about getting confused or losing your mind because the font and color throughout this page are easy to follow and easy to read. The labels throughout this blog are easy to find as well and she takes a little spin on them. The background of this blog doesn't have too much going on but connects with each of the pictures she takes. Aside from just taking pictures of mushrooms
and its surroundings, she takes pictures of nature friendly visitors. There are many pictures of turtles or bugs which are pretty cool, but there are numerous pictures of mushrooms and fungi.

Amanita Rubescens
The outline of this blog is very informative as well, the top gives a little information about herself and then there are many different links to different pieces you’d like to read about. For example, she has one on mushrooms which shows many pictures of mushrooms and the names so you can identify them. Then she has another section on the hikes she takes which could help foragers out there as well. I can’t get over the quality of her pictures though, it seems that she really cares about her posts and viewers. Also, if she hasn't been active lately then she would explain why. A blog that has great writing, great knowledge, amazing pictures, and cares about her followers is a blog that I would like to support and continue to read about!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How To Identify Edible Mushrooms.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom (edible)

Don't you love taking a stroll down town and noticing all those little mushrooms, aren't you ever curious on if you can eat them? Which ones are dangerous? Which ones are delicious? Well, It amazes me on how many different types of mushrooms are out there, though it may be fascinating, it can be dangerous. If you decided to go foraging then I advise you to not trust luck but to trust knowledge. There are about 250 different poisonous mushrooms, aside from the ones that make you woozy. Choosing the wrong mushrooms can
lead you to the hospital. The worst part is when a poisonous mushroom looks just like an edible one. Many beginners take chances and are too excited to harvest or pick mushrooms, a lot of the time they decide to go with their ego and pick these mushrooms leading them to eating these tasty deadly snacks. That is the first mistake; you must understand the different characteristics of each mushroom.

The first step into making sure your mushroom is safe to eat is by trying to identify this mushroom. Having some sort of fungi guide is nice and will help you out a ton. If you legit, have no idea on what mushroom you are looking at then look at it's surroundings, the trees and places they grew on make a huge difference. You also must be careful when checking these mushrooms, the colors are very important. Let's say you find a mushroom but can't decided if its safe to eat. Wait off on it, instead take a couple pictures of it and do some research. Maybe look up the appearance of it online. I will say, don't always use the internet unless it's a safe website.

Don't eat any mushroom unless you are certain that it is safe and edible. Going mushroom hunting is better during spring and the late fall. Another awesome tip is that after those super rainy days, going out into the forests is when you will for sure find mushrooms. Unless you're a 100% sure on your identification on the mushrooms then do not eat it. This is also a great time to take some fabulous pictures. Many different mushroom guides have pictures and will show you the anatomy of them with a very informative description. Time is your friend, You will learn by constantly reading and learning about mushrooms and different species.

Check out these awesome guides for some great tips and pointers!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The End Is Near, For Bananas.

What if I were to tell you that the end is near for bananas. Yes, you heard right. The latest research has shown that there is a fungus destroying our beloved bananas. The fungus is called TR4 and can easily lead the bananas to extinction. The Cavendish is the most consumed banana and is the most affected. What is it? It's originally from Panama but seemed to have hitched a ride with our fruity friends. The Panama disease is found in the soil and can travel around, meaning it is contagious to other plants. Great thing this is not dangerous towards humans so we can control it with fungicides. The fungus has yet to travel to America but it has traveled to Central and South America and is making its way towards Costa Rica.

Did you know that the Cavendish banana is the most eaten banana? That people pick it over an apple or orange many times? There are around 1,000 different types of bananas but the Cavendish which is about 45 percent of the fruits crop is going downhill. Not only is that the problem but the fungus has spread throughout this specific crop, leaving a gigantic indent of 95 percent that are now effected with the TR4.

The interesting factor is that a man named Phoetz came down to a conclusion of developing a new breed of the fruits that makes them immune from the TR4. I will admit that this may be a better solution but the fact that it’s gonna take years to perfect may devastate other places. I guess we are stuck using fungicides and destroying many affected crops. The TR4 is the terminator of our crops and has targeted the one and only, bananas. A quick bit of advice would be to check your crops, preferably bananas constantly so you can get rid of the problem ahead of time.

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Lost World

Imagine a world where parasitic fungi targeted us. Took over the human race, destroyed every living aspect on earth. Took away the significance of the world. I'm talking about a new world where we lived day by day, scavenging. Stealthing through these parasitic creatures. These creatures that are bloodthirsty and detect you by sound. There was an outbreak, that's how it all started. Now we are left to move on, losing family and loved ones. The weak must survive and if you can fight then you must fight. It was the late afternoon, I was tired of staying locked up in this fenced up life. I wanted to explore the real world and breathe the fresh air. Feel the ocean breeze while wiggling my toes in the sand. They told me there was nothing left but I just had to know. I left that night, it was cold and all I could hear was the orchestra of growls as they echoed through the lost city. The lost souls that used to be your friends or friendly strangers. Cars were rusted and covering the city, all the houses were abandoned. Though it was silent and ghostly, I felt lifted. Everything had changed, I never thought it’d be this devastating. What was life now? Living off what I can find and hoping to sleep that night. 

My first encounter was heart wrenching. It was dead silent in this eerie building, I was looking for food. I stopped as soon as I heard that bottle drop. My face turned blue, all the blood left my body and I was mute. I knew what was next, those things would detect me by instinct and attack. I was food to them and all I could see was one of these things running towards me. I've never killed one in my life. How was I supposed to end something that looks like its living? We referred to ourselves as the last ones. They told me that they had no feelings and we had to kill to survive. I mean they weren't human anymore, a parasitic fungus had completely wiped out most of the human race. This virus used to effect insects and use their body's as a host but throughout the years it kept evolving and not only effects insects but infests the living body. Meaning they aren't human anymore, it's just a shell, a lie that they hide in. (If you're familiar with The Last of Us then you will enjoy this series, follow to my page for part 2.)

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Ups and Downs of Fungi

Pioppino Mushroom

When I think of parasitic fungi I picture something harmful. The word parasite comes off as an infestation to me, something you cant get rid of. Though that's harsh, I ended up looking into the good side of fungi. To start off with, they are decomposers which actually helps us a lot because they do our dirty work. Many things we have difficulty cleaning up such as petroleum. this can easily be eaten up from these guys. All these different types of fungi help our community in many different ways like breaking down toxins, metals, and unnecessary trash. They also do a great job at disintegrating our unwanted bacteria and protecting our helpful and necessary bacteria. They can basically be some cool looking bodyguards that aren't always bad.

Another awesome thing is that fungi can also be used for a medical purpose. For example, Penicillin is a well known antibiotic which comes from penicillin mold. How odd is that? Who would think that we would want to use some sort of mold to create an antibiotic. If we've already created uses for certain fungi then imagine the possibilities. There are over 200,000 species out and we have yet to discover the rest that are hidden from us.

Parasitic Bolete

Now to the bad family, the parasitic factor in some fungi can initially destroy a living organism. These suckers do a lot of damage to our environment. They enjoy to use their host, initially as a shelter. It is quite terrifying to think about some sort of parasite taking over your body. They are the world of disease for animals, plants and even humans, as scary as that sounds. You may be wondering on how they survive, they end up damaging the wall tissues and later on use it as a late night snack. It's also very easy to spread, if they were to use a host then they would have the insect or animal get itself eaten by a predator. If the fungi decided to infect a plant then it well have the plant die gives off spores to spread. If you think these creatures can run from parasitic fungi then you are wrong, it is easy for them to get sucked into a terrible life that is run by these parasitic beasts.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Let’s start off with how lazy I am, how I’d much rather stay home and watch TV or prefer to scroll through my phone then pay attention to my teacher. Lets fast forward to why I’m so interested in fungi. I was sitting in Biology class waiting for the clock to tick faster even though it felt as if it was going in slow motion. She spoke about a variety of fungi, usually I don’t pay attention to what she teaches but this in particular caught my eye. I was so intrigued by these different types of fungus. What really caught my attention was when she went over the parasitic fungi. Oh man, this was better than the lame posts on Facebook. She spoke about some sort of fungus that makes its host into a zombie. Well, not a literal zombie but it uses an ant as its host to grow inside and continue its parasitic cycle. I obviously didn't know much about it so that night I decided to explore you tube. I got so far into these videos that I just wanted to learn more about it. I always thought mushrooms and parasites were awesome but this is a whole other level of cool. Putting them together and realizing that there is a ton more information out there on specifically different types of parasitic fungi is going to be a new project for me.

I especially love photography and taking pictures of my finds in the forest so I decided to make this blog all about these odd discoveries. I want to be able to identify what I see, I mainly want to keep my research on these parasitic fungi as well. For me to be so interested in this topic shows how much fun I will have exploring these mysterious spores or weird mushrooms. If you are curious too on how such fungi can take over an insects mind and body to later on lead it to death then stick around because this blog is about to get a whole lot more interesting!