Thursday, December 18, 2014
Whilst the Death Cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides) is not particularly weird to look at, it is grotesque in its reputation: the Death Cap is the mushroom responsible for the most mushroom related deaths worldwide. But what makes this non-native species so interesting to me is the fact that in California the Death Cap can be found growing under cork oaks (Quercus suber). This Amanita is considered a beneficial mycorrhizal fungus as it lives on the roots of live cork oaks, providing the tree with nutrients - such as magnesium and phosphorous - in exchange for carbohydrates. It is believed that Death Cap spores were first brought to North America on cork oak seedlings and it has since adapted to living on native California Quercus species. This particular 'shroom was growing, all alone I might add, under a very large oak tree (not a Q. suber) right next to the house.
Yikes, I suppose I'd better take a good look at the cork that's bunging up this evenings wine offering.