TOP O THE MORN Beware the mushrooms of autumn

From woodland dells and pastures, mushrooms are poking their heads, luring the unwary or justifying the wary, whichever.

There are all kinds of mushrooms — edible and inedible. The first one can eat and enjoy, the second can put one into the hospital and even transport one to the next world, depending on the quantity and type eaten.

We have always admired mushrooms, and liked them, the ones that come in cans or sold as fresh in the markets, confident that the mushroom farmer knew what he was about. But the only fresh one we are tempted to pick is the shaggy-mane with an unmistakable appearence, and with an excellent flavor.

Mushrooms can be miserable to deal with in lawns. The fairy ring is the scourge of gardeners. Nothing dispels the a gardener’s rage when the first little round buttons come up in ever-widening circles.

Fairy rings indeed! One good gardener informed us that the only way to get rid of them was to dig a ditch 2 feet deep and 6 inches on each side of the ring, remove all soil and fill it with uncontaminated soil.

Mushrooms are persistent little rascals! An easier revenge is to eat them.

A few years ago we were startled to see a grey-brown growth on the back lawn. On closer examination we saw dark ruffles on what looked like something from outer space. A sinister looking mass.

A frantic perusal of our book revealed that it was the California Elfin-saddle. Edible, but with caution: don’t eat raw, blanch in boiling water and don’t eat much. This is an edible mushroom? We took it if we didn’t double up in agony, pass out or drop dead, we could eat more. Being a coward, we passed up the opportunity.

The most beautiful of mushrooms is the Fly Amanita, with its bright red, orange or yellow cap covered with white flaky spots. A brother, Panther Amanita, is pale brown with white spots. They cause more cases of poisoning than any other mushroom int the Northwest.

Some years ago, meadowlands where mushrooms grow attracted many people who were said to eat the fungi to produce an hallucinogenic effect.

We have been unable to find the classification of this mushroom and that makes us wonder if it wasn’t an ordinary edible-type mushroom which when eaten in quantity may produce a high.

Some do this, we are told, when they are past their prime. Others, poisonous (mushrooms, not people) taken in very small amounts produce a headache or slight dizziness.

So buy and study a good mushroom book, then buy your eating mushrooms in the supermarket.

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