Confessions of a Fungus Addict
I love fungi (and slime mold) - I take many pictures of fungi during the rainy season (fall and winter in California). Most of them are decent record shots, and I'm collecting those for a book, but some of the photos turn out better than that.
Over the last few years, as part of my general fascination with our enthralling world at Dryad Ranch, I have become interested in the myriad forms of fungus we notice there. The fungi weren't entirely uncharted territory, of course, since my husband some years ago also delved into the learning process.
The main problem with self-education when it comes to fungi is that there are so many species, most of which seem to be of the little brown or big white variety. My husband, being of a more scientific bent, did his investigations correctly, carefully lifting the specimen from the earth (or log) and placing it on a white (or black) piece of paper overnight to be able to inspect the color of the spores in the morning, since that is one of the first observations required of all the keys that help to determine "What kind is it?"
Last year although initially resistant, I started to do things "right", and collect the mushrooms I don't recognize and take spore prints. This has been an interesting learning process and not always successful. I've found that if one brings home a mushroom that is well past its prime, one runs the risk of having said fungus slump into a slimy stinky mess with flies and larvae and all sorts of ickiness.