19 June 2009
appearance of the king
This is the first King Stropharia toadstool to appear since the wood chip mulch on the new South End beds was innoculated with fungus-impregnated dowels last year. I couldn't be sure if this had been successful until now as all the action takes place below ground. The fungal mycelium first grow to spread through the substrate during establishment. It breaks down the dead woody material using the stored energy to grow. When established and conditions are right it sends up a fruiting body - the toadstool - to spread its spores. As the wood chip is broken down the nutrients locked up in it are released into the soil becoming available for plants to use and a host of invertebrates feed on fungi so I am pleased this has been successful. I will top up the bed with woody material and hopefully the colony will go on from year to year.
The toadstools are edible but I didn't take the bite from this one - glistening trails said the boneless had been ravenously feasting throughout the night. Good luck to them!