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Pastor's Blog

The Fungus Humungous

September 25, 2018


Lots of mushrooms are growing in the woods.

The yellow one is called the American Eastern Fly Agaric.  It is poisonous for us to eat, but it offers important assistance to the root systems of the green plants nearby.  In exchange for sipping chlorophyll from the roots of green plants, this mushroom supplies water and soil nutrients to the plants.  This mutually beneficial arrangement is call a mycorrhiza.  Above ground we see a beautiful mushroom; below ground there's a beautiful relationship!  There's so much going on in the quiet woods than we know.

The clump of brown mushrooms are Honey Mushrooms.  There are lots of different kinds of honey mushrooms, and they take on different forms.  They're shape-shifters.  They attack roots of trees creating a spongy white rot in the wood that eventually kills the trees.  As mushrooms they feed off of downed trees through long roots ... roots fifty or even a hundred yards long.  A group of Honey Mushrooms can send out a root system to trees around them for literally miles which is how the Honey Mushroom "system" in Oregon's Malheur National Forest is considered the world's largest living organism.  It covers 3.4 square miles and is thought to be 2,400 years old.  People call it the Humungous Fungus.

There were lots of tall, slender-stemmed, white mushrooms, too, and white spots on the forest floor that looked like some kind of fungus oozing up from the dirt.  I wonder if that's the spongy white rot form of the honey mushroom?  Maybe we have a bigger honey mushroom out at Navarino?  I wonder how scientists determined that all those honey mushrooms in Oregon were connected, were really one body?    

The Belted Kingfishers were very active on the Pike’s Peak flowage today.  Male Belted Kingfishers kind of look like fat Blue Jays with an Elvis do and big beaks for catching crayfish and fish.  They fly chittering, flapping their wings like mad, sometimes skimming just above the surface of the flowage.  I didn't see one dive to nab a meal, but they were putting on quite a show while I ate my cheese and pickle sandwich.

I met the fifth person I've met out at Navarino on my year of walks out there.  Previously I met  one woman skiing, one couple walking a dog, and one fellow walking his dog named Angus.  They might consider issuing permits to alleviate the over-crowding.  Today I met person number five.  Brewer fan by his license plate.  He had parked on Townline Road and was walking south as I was finishing my walk north.  He warned me about deer flies in the summer and deer hunters in November.  I am thankful for the warning. Once when biking in Navarino, he rigged a bicycle helmet with blue tape to attract the deer flies (who apparently like blue; the things you never knew!) and bug tape on top to trap them.  He flew through the woods and harvested a whole helmet-full of dead deer flies.  He seemed like a nice fellow.  Until we got talking about the deer flies.

I walked a bit west on Townline Road, found the railroad tracks and took them south to the Pike’s Peak Flowage again.  On the way I picked up one of dozens of railroad spikes strewn between and beside the tracks.  Don't tell Canadian Northern.  Also I dug up a lovely rubber luggage strap in excellent condition.  Learned a lot and got toys.  Doesn't get any better than that.

Pastor Larry

Posted by Larry Lange