Texas Junior Naturalists

Texas Junior Naturalists
An online resource for students of nature and the outdoors.


Amanita muscaria

In-Between Seasons

This time of year, before the frosts are over and the wildflowers begin their annual display is a good time to ponder some of the less obvious forms of life on the planet. Specifically, fungi.

Where is fungi in your life?
Your bread, the green fuzz on the bread, the beer in the fridge, the orange-pink crud on the shower curtain, the itch between your toes, the mushrooms on your pizza or flooded carpeting, all are related to the growth of fungi.

Fungal life cycles continue year round, regardless of the weather or the length of day. Besides being beautiful and interesting, they are essential to other life forms and ecosystems. Many plants for instance, require a relationship with fungi in order to grow and survive. Fungi are decomposers of all types of organic matter.

Though many species are tasty to eat, some are quite deadly to humans. Brightly colored species are easily spied in a drab winter landscape. See how many different kinds you can find the next time you take a walk outside, especially in the woods or damp environments. Remember, never eat any wild plant or mushroom.

Photo of Amanita muscaria (above) copyright Pamela Kaminski, used with permission, all rights reserved, reproduction prohibited

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More resources:

Fun Facts About Fungi from the University of Michigan Fungus Collection

Introduction to Fungi from U.C. Berkeley

All About Fungi - http://www.mycolog.com/index.html

The Fungus Kingdom - http://www.perspective.com/nature/fungi/index.html

The Hidden Forest - New Zealand site - shows fungal evolution - good photos and organization

Pamela Kaminski's wonderful photos of fungi - http://pkaminski.homestead.com/page1.html

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