They’re often small. Much of their growth happens below ground. Many of their actions go unseen. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. In fact, fungi are one of the most important groups of organisms on the planet.
The fungi kingdom includes yeast, mold, and the familiar mushroom. Mushrooms have an important role in the forest ecosystem as decompsers, recycling detritus and returning nutrients to the soil. Throughout the world and through the centuries, mushrooms have also been an important source of food and medicine for people.
We thought it was time to give this important group of organisms its own outdoor exhibit at Fountain Rock. This weekend, our Big Outdoors kids ‘planted’ a mushroom garden by the trailhead to Hackberry Hollow. We drilled holes into fresh white oak logs (a mushroom favorite!), and then hammered plugs inoculated with mushroom spore into the holes. If you walk the trail, you’ll see the pink polka dots – where we sealed the holes with cheese wax – on the logs.
This fall we hope to grow four species of edible, native mushrooms including chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus), pearl oysters (Pleurotus ostreatus), reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), and maitake (Grifola frondosa). Note – wild mushrooms are often poisonous and, unless you know what you’re doing, shouldn’t be picked.
Thank you to Comprehensive Tree Care of Frederick, Maryland for generously donating the logs for this project!