Brief-Form Post #27: Special Fungi Finds at Goldsmith SWS!

I am pleased to add the 27th of my GBH Brief Form Posts (Less than three minutes to read!) to my website. I tend to get a bit wordy with my routine Posts. I don’t want my enthusiasm for thoroughness and detail to discourage readers. So I will publish these brief Posts regularly.


Brief-Form Post on my November 22, 2023, Special Fungi Finds at Huntsville’s Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary!


On November 22, 2023, I visited the Sanctuary with my two Alabama grandsons, Jack (age 16) and Sam (age 9). We considered our wanderings as all-purpose, searching with curiosity for the beauty, magic, wonder, and awe of Nature. We found ample objects within our criteria. I focus this brief-form post on members of the fungi kingdom we encountered. I remind you that this 400-acre property is a Sanctuary. We did not consider this a foraging venture. We took only photographs, gathered only memories, and left only footprints.

Fungi, a kingdom all their own, fascinate me, and have for decades. Without their decomposition, plant biomass would not so readily recycle to enrich our forest soils.

I entered the edible wild mushroom aficionado domain tentatively just three years ago. Since then, I have learned to identify, collect, prepare, and consume a broadening selection: chanterelles, oysters, honeys, wood ears, jellies, chicken and hen of the woods, and lions mane. Lion’s mane is choice — the filet mignon and caviar of the fungi kingdom. We viewed this magnificent lion’s mane with awe and amazement. I wondered why such a specimen seems to appear only when it is off limits to harvesting.


Because I hold such reverence for this species (Hericium erinaceus), I felt delight that Jack and Sam showed genuine enthusiasm in finding such a large and perfect specimen. A week later, we three visited another property where we could have collected. They evidenced disappointment when our search left us empty handed! This was indeed a spectacular find, pure white, super fresh, and mockingly edible.


I spotted the specimen above. Sam found another one at ground level within 15-20 minutes. I believe both boys will carry the lions mane imprint from that day forward.


Jack found another lion’s mane before we departed the riparian forest.

We identified this six-inch diameter Trametes aesculi, a nonedible, near the trailhead.


Sam stood beside an oak log, a recent blowdown, covered with Hypoxylon canker, yet another decay fungus.


Another edible, witches butter, a jelly fungus, populated this small fallen oak branch.


I accept the challenge of distilling these Brief-Form Posts into a single distinct reflection, a task far more elusive than assembling a dozen pithy statements. Today, I borrow a relevant reflection from John Muir, one of the truly great minds of conservation and environmental antiquity:

  • There are no accidents in Nature. Every motion of the constantly shifting bodies in the world is timed to the occasion for some definite, fore-ordered end. The flowers blossom in obedience to the same law that marks the course of constellations, and the song of a bird is the echo of a universal symphony. Nature is one, and to me the greatest delight of observation and study is to discover new unities in this all-embracing and eternal harmony.


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