Fungi play a large role in forested ecosystems, such as decomposition, nutrient cycling, and as food sources. They are abundant worldwide but often overlooked. Mushrooms, specifically, are found in soil or growing on their food source (e.g., ailing trees and rotting logs), and are often not seen unless they are fruiting. There are an estimated 1.5-5 million species of fungi and 14,000 described mushroom species. Identification can be tough, and poisonous mushrooms can be deadly, so go out with an expert if you intend to collect edible fungi. Genetics show that fungi are more closely related to animals than plants and may be more important to humans than you might think! We use them for antibiotics, cleaning agents, food, and fermentation. There is an incredible amount of variation within this group pertaining to ecology, reproduction, and morphology. Here I focus on those found on the forest floor in Ohio.
Have you ever noticed that Ohio has a lot of mushrooms in the forest? Some are edible, many are poisonous. Tara Pelletier shares her portfolio and stories about fungi in the forest. Click on the title to see the blog post.
by Tara Pelletier