Here in Western North Carolina it has been a wet summer. Lots of rain and damp morning fogs makes for a soggy environment. I’m in the Nantahala Forest and, according to Wikipedia,

The word “Nantahala” is a Cherokee word meaning “Land of the Noonday Sun”. The name is appropriate as, in some spots, the sun only reaches the floors of the deep gorges of the forest when high overhead at midday.

Well, there are parts of my small plot that stay shady and damp most of the day and that leads to some great mushrooming. I’ve often written about NC mushrooms. My neighbors Bonnie and Renee love to harvest the chanterelles and they are having a good harvest year.

But smaller critters like mushrooms too. The accompanying photo is a scene I have often stumbled upon and wanted to record but the angle has never been quite right to tell the story. Something — squirrel, chipmunk, vole, — really enjoyed this small mushroom which, I think, is a Beechwood Sickener (Russula mairei). From the name you would think it is poisonous but it is edible and, according to my mushroom book, “very hot when tasted.”  That might explain why the ‘shroom was devoured over two days.

I have no interest in tasting the Beechwood Sickener. I’ve never been very experimental when it comes to food. And we all know some mushrooms are really bad for you. As the saying goes, “All mushrooms are edible, but some only once in a lifetime.”  ❧


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