Mushroom in the Woods

Within light shadows stood
orange colors, specks of white,
mushroom in the woods.
Inedible or edible,
bad or good to eat?
Is this extremely poisonous
or a tasty treat?
I don’t know the answer
and I’d rather not be dead,
so I think I’ll get my mushrooms
from the grocery store instead!     ~ms
My mom always bought mushrooms, because she liked to toss a few in when she was making spaghetti.  So when I saw little white mushrooms growing out in the yard one day, I picked a few and brought them into the kitchen, thinking she would be happy to have them (since I was only about 6 years old, I didn’t know that some mushrooms are dangerous to eat).

Needless to say, she wasn’t happy to see me with a handful of unidentified yard mushrooms.  She yelled in a panicked voice, “Oh my God. Did you eat any of those?”

I said, “No…I just thought that….”

Before I could finish, she interrupted— “These are probably poisonous! Do you want to die a painful death? Only people who know what they are doing can touch mushrooms. Go wash your hands right now and don’t you ever do this again!”

A lot of time has passed since then, but I still remember her stern warning.  Last year when I saw a glorious orange/red mushroom in my yard, I took a photo instead of pulling it out of the ground. And then, I searched through many articles online looking for an identifying photo. I have come to the conclusion that this is an Amanita Muscaria (Fly Agaric)—a poisonous psychoactive  ‘magic shroom’ that is sometimes used in shamanic rituals and ceremonies:

Whatever the case, don’t worry mom. I didn’t eat this mushroom, my camera did!

About Mary Strong-Spaid

You can find me any time wandering around in my own mind gathering thoughts.
This entry was posted in Nature, photography, Poetry, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to Mushroom in the Woods

  1. You may not be able to eat, but still have the pleasure to have found, seen and shared Thanks

    • There might be lots of edible mushrooms in the woods around here. But, in my case, I would be too afraid to trust what I think I know…because of how much I know I don’t know.
      However, it surely was a pleasure to see such a beautiful mushroom, orange speckled white. I took this photo right before the winter came (last autumn).

  2. Jackie says:

    I love your poem!

  3. simonhlilly says:

    I think your identification is correct. It is a classic example of information drought. A. Muscaria is quite a nasty toxin ( not usually fatal) but when appropriately prepared has been used worldwide in shamanic and healing contexts ( and still is)

    • Yes. When I was searching for identifying photos, I did come across a website called:
      “Red Angels / Secret of the Soma–Amanita Muscaria Mushrooms.”
      So, out of curiosity, I did read a little about the shamanic practices–and eating mind-bending mushrooms is not for me, that’s for sure.
      My mind is creative enough, wandering around inside itself….I would never want to risk eating a relatively toxic mushroom. Most probably, someone like me would never come back.

  4. Clowie says:

    It is very popular to go hunting for wild mushrooms here. My bipeds were shown one type that is quite easy to identify because of the colour when it is cut. They thought it would be a good idea to get a book and see what else they could identify. They spent hours looking at the book, but for each mushroom they thought they could identify, there was a poisonous one looking very similar. They gave up!

    • Aha! Yes….I noticed that as I was looking through a gazillion photos of mushrooms online.
      For almost every edible mushroom, it seems there is another poisonous mushroom that looks almost identical (at least to my eyes).

  5. kiwiskan says:

    A friend of ours nearly died eating a misidentified mushroom. His wife and daughter had to get him down a steep hill and a number of kilometers by boat to meet the ambulance at the nearest jetty. He’s probably a bit more careful now

  6. You definitely have a knack for words…always leaves me smiling. As for mushrooms, we put them in everything!! Some of my best memories are hunting for srooms in the woods with my father.

    • Last year, I was up at my cousins farm in Western PA. She was growing shiitake mushrooms on a stack of old logs way out in the woods. She started picking mushrooms out of the logs and said that we were going to have them for dinner.
      I said… “Oh no. Wait. How do you know all of these things growing in this wood are shiitake? What if something else blew in? What if there’s some bad mushrooms here, and you don’t know it?”
      (Yep. Wonder why I sound just like the worrying goose in ‘honking attitude?’)
      Anyway, she said: “Good grief. I know what shiitake mushrooms look like. How do you think the stores get shiitake mushrooms, anyway? They get them from people like me.”

  7. dorannrule says:

    The photo is great. Your poem is too. And the story is priceless!

    • I did some more research today. It is apparently a fully mature Amanita Muscaria (Fly Agaric). Truly a dangerous “magic mushroom.” Good thing my mind still listens to the inner sound of my mom’s voice from long ago.

  8. Me too! Pretty isn’t always safe LOL

  9. Nice timing (I too just put up a post about mushrooms, which you were kind enough to check out); great photo! One of my favorite things about mushrooms is the great diversity of size, shape, color, etc. – in addition to toxicity!

    • Yes, your post was very interesting. Definitely braver than I am!
      I would be too worried to eat mushrooms that I found growing in the wild. But that’s mostly because I know very little (almost nothing) about them.

  10. viewsplash says:

    Hi. For your wonderful posts, I have nominated you for Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

  11. ajaytao2010 says:

    I Nominate you in for an award,
    please choose any one of them

    take your own time to post

    please accept and oblige

  12. Pingback: A Bouquet of Awards – 10 Nominations | Ajaytao 2010

  13. I too love mushrooms but cant cook and certainly don’t know which ones are edible and which poisonous.

  14. I wish I knew more about plants growing in the wild….because I would be too afraid to pick something and eat it, not knowing.

  15. Laura says:

    Aw, such a stern warning for a curious little girl. I guess your mom was probably just scared, but wouldn’t it have been fun if she’d turned it into a “learning moment,” and you could’ve researched the mushroom together? My daughter went thru a brief phase when she was 8, having determined Mycologist would be her career path. We had a great time learning about mushrooms.

    • Oh yes! I definitely think my mom was scared.
      I am the 2nd oldest of 9 children. So when this happened, she already had 4 children (2 younger than me) that she was trying to keep up with . She didn’t have time to sit down and discuss different types of mushrooms with me (actually, I don’t think she knew that much about mushrooms either).
      Since there was no internet in the early 1960s, she also had no quick way to look up identifying photos and/or find additional information (like I was just able to do).
      To tell me that I was going to die if I went around picking yard mushrooms–was probably her best guarantee that I would leave them all alone (poisonous or non-poisonous).
      A mom’s gotta do what she thinks is best, considering the circumstances. 🙂

  16. suej says:

    Nice shot of the mushroom, and enjoyed reading the poem and the back story! Thanks for the ‘like’ on my blog.

  17. Hi, Mary. Another great post: KUDOS to you!

  18. I love mushrooms. I also buy mine at the supermarket. They used to grow wild near our house and people would come and pick them. I never did. Sometimes the safe ones, they mutate and become poisonous, or so I’ve heard. I would rather be safe than dead. 🙂

  19. Touch2Touch says:

    Not eating it? Good choice! Yes, amanita muscaria, as your correspondents say. Or maybe a. formosa. I had a post about this on one of my blogs, because the mushrooms in situ are so spectacular! Here it is:
    Commenters discuss which variety it might be. Either way, no eat is the way to go!!!!
    P.S. Thanks for the like on touch2touch!

    • Because she had written an article about the amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric), I wrote Kat Morgenstern and asked her about my photo. She said it was most definitely the amanita muscaria and I could include a link to her story (on Sacred )..
      I looked at your photo also. These are spectacular looking mushrooms, I agree…and better left uneaten!

  20. Cute poem!

    I was examining some very odd upside-down looking mushrooms in my yard just yesterday. I would love to figure out how to grow some edible ones.

  21. My cousin grows shiitake on her farm.
    She bought the mushroom spores online and followed the directions.
    She grows them out on a pile of oak logs back in the woods.

  22. veraersilia says:

    OHHH! I finally found the comment box! Thank you for this beauty of a pix of an Amanita muscaria, I had never seen one after reading so many times about it… from shamans to alchemists thru witches etc… beautiful mushroom. I read that sometimes plants and insects that have bright colors do so NOT as attraction but to advertise their danger to potential predators. Just think, beauty as danger…. a concept to think about. V.

  23. I love mushrooms, as so many of your postees do. One that you have to try though, but it is probably past picking time in your area, are Morels. They are unmistakable because they look like a tall brain sitting on top of a stem.
    Lovely poem and picture. And yes, a Mom can only do what she is able to.

  24. nliakos says:

    Love the photo and all the comments. I am another one who loves mushrooms that I buy from the grocery store. The ones I see in the woods are beautiful to look at.
    I was a Russian major in college. Russians tend to be fanatical about mushrooms. They have books and love to go mushrooming. Whether or not some of these trips end in tragedy, I do not know.

    • My cousin majored in Russian history in college. She never mentioned that the connection with mushrooms to me, but….she does have a farm and she grows shiitake mushrooms herself. I am sure that a few people who try to pick mushrooms by looking at photos in books—make a few mistakes. Hopefully, the mistakes are not fatal. There are many beautiful mushrooms in the woods, and some of the poisonous ones look a lot like the non-poisonous ones. I will always pick my mushrooms from the non-wooded produce section in the store. 😉

  25. Mushroom and olive pizza my fav. Thanks visit my blog.

    • Aha! I just saw this comment….hidden here under a woods full of words! I also love mushroom and olive pizza. My grandmother’s last name is ‘Cipolari’–very Italian. When we would visit her, there was always lots of olives…in just about everything. Sometimes they were just sitting alone in a beautiful glass bowl. Mushrooms took second place to all of the olives. 😉

  26. daeja's view says:

    i am a wild mushroom hunter. i belong to a mycological group of fungus freaks 🙂
    i only eat the ones i know for sure are safe. nice photo, recognized the amanita muscaria right away – poisonous, psychedelic, and the one those elves are always hiding behind!

    • You are braver than me! I would be afraid to eat a mushroom that I found growing wild. I figured the beautiful mushroom that I photographed was poisonous, but I didn’t t know for sure—so I looked at photos on the internet. It was growing in my backyard, behind a river birch tree at the edge of a pine tree wooded area. It fit the description and the photo of the amanita muscaria–the magical mushroom that opens doorways to worlds unknown (or kills you). After a while, it dissolved back into the ground OR something ate it. I read that this mushroom often made deer ‘fly’ after they munched on it. I didn’t know a mushroom like this grew in Virginia!

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