Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fungal Fascination

Mushrooms are amazing. Actually, their Creator is the truly awesome and amazing One who designed our ecosystem, incorporating such a diversity of insect and fungal life, with everything in balance to protect and preserve life on planet earth. Scientists are today only scratching the surface of understanding how it all works. Insect kinds have been estimated at between 4 to 6 million species and fungi somewhere between 1 and 2 million (many of which are actually DNA variations of fewer kinds).

Sometimes I take pictures of mushrooms in our gardens, and attempt to find them in my identification guide, Mushrooms of Hawaii. At present, we're working on a small shitake cultivation. I've also been dipping into a fascinating book, with the mythical title, Mycelium Running, How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, by Paul Stamets. He reports that various types of fungi, acting as filters, are able to remediate toxins in the soil and environment, to accumulate them for removal, or to indicate where toxic metals exist. Sort of biological bottom feeders of the earth. They can and are being used intentionally to convert waste sites.

This one was growing underneath the tangerine tree at our office - a large, strangely sponge-like fungi. Bob took a few photos. At home, and based on his emailed picture, I was looking for it in the mushroom book, trying to identify the species. I phoned and asked my granddaughter to go out to take some measurements (she's at the office today). Kealani just called back to inform me that it is the fruit-picker sponge. Yes folks, it must have fallen out whilst someone (Bob) was picking tangerines. Just goes to show you - the instructions to examine also gills, stem, & etc. as well as the cap, have a point. More than face value is involved. Is there a parable in this?


  1. Thanks for the poignant way you have of bringing negative things into the light. I know some fungus people. I call them black holes of neediness. As you say, even fungi serve a positive purpose of cleaning the earth. And so the fungi feeders are a reminder to me to pray both for them and for me to be cleaning agents for others. I would be a light unto their souls.

  2. Thanks Linda for the insightful comment. Yes, we are supposed to be light and salt, doing a spiritual remediation on the planet.

  3. I laughed when Kealani told me it was a piece of foam sponge hee hee

  4. Yes, "fruitpicker sponge" is not the name of an exotic mushroom.