Roots 'n' Shoots: Wild & Lawn Mushrooms

Why is RnS Moving to

Google had brought out an algorithm update in May 2017. With previous updates like Panda or Penguin, Mr G had penalized blogs or websites with low quality content and those more focused on aggressive adverts (including multiple ads or pop-up ads in articles). However, many blogs/websites that weren't shady got penalized beyond recovery too and a lot of people lost their income. The May 2017 update has had wide-scale effect on blogs and websites, but without any explanation from Mr G as to why or what it does. RnS has been hit by it too and hard. RnS organic search stats (i.e. users from Google) have dropped by 75% since. Even though RnS is not a source of income, I tried to figure out why RnS is being culled. It seems that it doesn't really have anything to do with RnS per se, but likely because RnS is FREE and not paying for page ranking (via AdWords or Ad Ranking). Now it is likely being aggressively shoved to lower page rankings to accommodate the paid ads.

I cannot rely on Mr G anymore to get RnS' content where it is needed. So I am busy moving RnS to Wordpress where you can find me as Whisker Flowers @

I am also imposing 301 redirects from already moved posts and pages!

- The Shroom - (AKA Whisker Flowers)

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Wild & Lawn Mushrooms

Ramaria flava 
Previously Clavaria flava

I have always loved fungi. So much so that, although my degree states ‘Genetics’ I practically duel-majored in genetics and microbiology. Several of my modules through undergraduate were either mycology or microbiology with my core genetics modules.

Fungi are fascinating organisms of which mushrooms or cap fungi are the most complex. I get very excited when I see one and have to stop and take some photos. We had a few popping up in our bushveld last year. I knew what one of them was, but the others still remains un-identified. This year we have had so much rain (in short burst) that the mushrooms have been popping up all over the lawn!

Fungi are made up of chitin; hard, sturdy cellular structures similar to plants, but grow as mycelium (thread-like structures) and do not contain chlorophyll (green photosynthesising pigment)… so they are not quite plants. They obtain their nutrients from other organisms, either through decomposition or parasitism, similar to animals, but they form fruiting bodies that contain spores… they are not quite animals either. Therefore, mushrooms seem to occupy a world between that of plants and animals. Scientists still argue about their taxonomic classification, but have placed them squarely between plants and animals under eukaryotic organisms.

Table 63 Basimycetes
Kunstformen der Natur (1900)
Kurt Stober Online Libnrary

Fungi have diverse habitats and each group has their own unique spore formation that distinguishes them.

Common Name
Genus representatives
Spore Type
Typical Habitat
Disease examples
Water moulds
High humidity or running water
Potato blight (Irish famine caused by Phytophthora)
Damping off disease of seedlings (Pythium)
Bread moulds/span>
Terrestrial, Soil, decaying plant or animal matter, some parasitic
Food spoilage such as Rhizopus stolonifer (black bread mould) on strawberries
Sac fungi
Saccharomyces (brewer’s yeast),
Morchella (morels),
Tuber (truffles)
Soil, decompos-ing plant matter and several parasitic or disease causing
Dutch elm (Ophiostoma spp.), chestnut blight (Claviceps spp.), ergots, white/brown wood rots
True Fungi
Club Fungi
Cap Fungi
Agaricus, Boletus, Cantharellus
Soil, decompos-ing plant matter, several parasitic or disease causing
Black stem, wheat rusts, corn smuts, wheat bunts
Note that Deuteromycota no longer exists due to it being non-spore forming stages of Ascomycota and Basidiomycota

Fungi increase in complexity as you move from Oomycetes (simple fungi) to Basidiomycetes (higher fungi). The groups can be simplified into three major types of fungi: moulds, yeasts and mushrooms.

Moulds are filamentous fungi, the ones as fluff on your bread! The compact fluff is termed mycelium and is made up of many single thread-like structures known as hyphae. Moulds also produce spores, borne on specialised reproductive organs known as conidia. Conidia are seen as little black spots on top of some of the hyphae. (Oomycetes & Zygomycetes).

Pin mould on peach

Yeasts are unicellular fungi. These are utilised in many culinary disciplines, such as beer brewing, wine-making, soy sauce production, bread making and myco-proteins are made from these. Several nasty diseases and infection are also caused by this set of fungi, specifically Candida albicans systemic infections. Some ‘culinary mushrooms’ are also in this group, such as Morels and Turkey Foot. Technically morels and bract fungi aren’t mushrooms, but ascomycetes, the difference is that ascomycetes have pores and not gills. (Ascomycetes)

Morchella septentrionalis,
Folds instead of gills

Mushrooms are macroscopic fungi, capable of producing large fruiting bodies. This edible fruiting body is what we most often associate with mushrooms, but this is only a small part of the whole organism. The rest is usually found under the ground as a large mycelium network. The fungi spores drop onto favourable decaying matter as a nutrient source. The mycelium grows in the matter and when the weather is optimal (wet and cool) fruiting commences. First fruiting is noticeable as small buds (similar to button mushrooms) with the cap still attached to the stalk. Later the fruits mature and spread out the cap to release spores with the wind (Portobello mushrooms are buttons that have matured). (Basidiomycetes).

On to the veld mushrooms… I came across several Beaked or Beret Earthstars, Geastrum pectinatum, of the Geastraceae Family. They are leathery and inedible. The ‘star’ termed the exoperidium is made up of 5-10 spikes. During hot and dry periods, the spikes shrivel and lower the globe (endoperidium) to the ground and may event curl around it to protect it. During rainy and wet weather, the spikes swell and lift the globe from the ground floor to expose the globe. Falling raindrops or passing animals expel puffs of spores out from the ‘beak’.

Can you spot them?
Beaked earthstar
Geastrum pectinatum
Beaked earthstar
Geastrum pectinatum
Beaked earthstar
Geastrum pectinatum
Beaked earthstar
Geastrum pectinatum
... I poke-poke them and they go poof-poof ... quite amusing such simple things J

This is the one I wasn’t able to identify. My ‘Mushrooms of South Africa’ book is fairly complete, but didn’t have one that looks like this.  Here are some pictures;

Unknown Mushroom

Unknown Mushroom

Unknown Mushroom

It smelled wonderfully mushroomy... Termitomyces? Macrocybe? I did not eat it, hence why I am still here posting blogs J

On to the ones on the lawn... at least I could ID all of these.

Yellow stinkhorn
P rubicundus
Smelly things which flies love!

No common name,  but considering its species name, it could be
'Small Agaric',
Agaricus diminutivus

'Small Agaric',
Agaricus diminutivus

Blackening Wax Gill,
Hygrocybe nigrescens

Termite fungus,
Termitomyces microcarpus
Comes up after rains from termite burrows beneath the soil

Termite fungus,
Termitomyces microcarpus

Termite fungus,
Termitomyces microcarpus
Looks like a good place to find fairies!

Common puffball,
Vascellum pratense

Glistening Ink Cap,
Coprinellus miaceus

Glistening Ink Cap,
Coprinellus miaceus

Shaggy Ink Cap,
Coprinus comatus
A lichen growing on the Acacia trees

Note!!! Do not eat any mushroom you cannot ID 100%, else you'll be N

I end off with this last stunning mushroom...
Lactarius indigo
Indigo milk cap or Blue milk cap

- Update April 2014 - 

I found this one growing on the grass clippings in the veld, fairly common to find in Autumn.

False parasol,
Chlorophyllum molybdites


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