Friday, 3 October 2014

Fascinating Fungi

It all started with Tiger finding some fungi (panaeolus foenisecii) on the lawn one day...


We cut some off to observe indoors before making a print with them.


A few days later, more fungi (mostly Parasol Mushroom and Field Mushroom) popped up on the lawn:


Since there were so many fungi popping up around us, we might as well get to know them!


We made a few trips to the woods to to search for fungi.  Boy, were we in a treat!  Fungi was to be found everywhere!

We found fungi growing on tree trunks:


Moving down a little along the tree trunk, we found fungi growing on the exposed roots of certain trees:


Mostly, various fungi could be found on rotten logs or exposed parts of branches that were starting to rot:


Even on rotting logs, there were many different varieties of fungi growing.  Other than the tubed mushrooms (see photos directly above), the most common type of fungi we found on rotting logs were from the bracket fungus family.


We didn't take our field guides with us on our walks but Tiger took many photographs of all the fungi we found so that we could identify them when we got home.


The fungi on the ground were very well camouflaged and we had to look quite hard to pick them out from the piles of fallen leaves.


The most exciting find was the Fly Argaric, the quintessential fairytale toadstool where we almost expected to find a fairy hiding under it.  We also saw a fairy ring made up of fly argaric, which is rather unusual.  The fairy ring was located very deep in the woods where there wasn't much light so the photograph doesn't do the magical atmosphere justice.


After our numerous walks, we collected enough photographs and samples to conduct more close-up investigations of the fungi at home:


We identified all the fungi at hand, looked at them through our hand-lens (I think we'll need a microscope next year) and noted the different types of patterns and gills of each fungus.


Then we covered each fungus under either a glass jar or a bowl (depending on its size) to make a spore print.  Unfortunately, some of the prints did not turn out very clearly.  It was fascinating to see how the Fly Argaric expanded to twice its size to fill the entire bowl.


The fungi were kept covered for a few days to get the spore prints.  By then, they were starting to give off a slight rotting smell.  They were discarded before they became rotten (which wouldn't be a pretty sight) but we became fascinated by the concept of decay for a few days:


Apparently, we were not the only "weirdos" who were enthralled by fungi!  We went along to a fungi workshop conducted by The British Mycological Society, where we learnt various information about fungi, including its life cycle and taxonomy.


At the workshop, Tiger was given some starter culture for the Oyster Mushroom, which he cultivated inside a toilet roll (all of things).  We left the mushroom to grow in a corner of our bathroom and observed it everyday for two weeks, noting changes to its growth.


Watching the oyster mushrooms grow was an amazing experience.  Unlike the picked fungi above with which we tried to get spore prints, these live mushrooms did not smell at all.  Although we were assured that they are completely safe to eat, we didn't eat them in the end because: (1) both boys don't like the taste of mushrooms, and (2) we don't fancy eating anything that was grown in the bathroom, even though our bathrooms are very clean.  Therefore, growing the oyster mushroom remains a scientific adventure.



This post is linked up to:
  1. Hip Homeschool Hop - 9/30/14
  2. Finishing Strong Week 31
  3. Hearts for Home Blog Hop #85
  4. Collage Friday - Homeschool Moms: Sometimes We Need to Ask for Help!
  5. Weekly Wrap-Up: The One with the One Direction Concert
  6. Country Kids from Combe Mill
 
http://learningtable.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/hearts-for-home-blog-hop-86.html

24 comments:

  1. Wow-we spent a fair amount of time, last autumn, scouring the ground in the woods to find fly argaric but with no success. Your study sounds fascinating. We had a mushroom kit, last Christmas, which lived in the kitchen not bathroom and produced a fair few mushrooms.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It took us several walks to find all the fungi in this post, so it's a compilation rather than from a single walk. My kitchen is too warm to have mushrooms growing, that's why we chose the bathroom which is damp and cold! :-) I'm rather fascinated by wild fungi now, so perhaps we shall do another study next autumn.

      Delete
  2. We don't really get a lot of mushrooms here, but I'm kind of wishing we did now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After the summer, England is very damp and cold most of the time so we usually get plenty of fungi (and mould, if you're unlucky), so it's a good chance to study them as they are so many around! :-) Texas has its own flora and fauna so you guys will have plenty of interesting things to study that we don't see here.

      Delete
  3. Wow, beautiful fungi! You are such an amazing homeschool mama!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Leslie, for your kind words. :-) Looking for fungi was a very good excuse to go for multiple walks this time of the year.

      Delete
  4. Oooh, this is fantastic! What a lot of fabulous experiences.
    here is a blog post I read recently you both might find interesting:

    http://sageparnassus.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/fairy-rings.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+SageParnassus+(Sage+Parnassus)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the link, Lynn. It's a fantastic blog that I read, but I must've missed this particular post. :-)

      Delete
  5. Hwee,

    I love fungi! So many colours. When it rains I love to look for them. We've drawn pictures of them and tried to identify them in the past. Unfortunately we don't seem to get many fungi where we currently live. Perhaps it's been too dry. Thank you so much for the videos. I shall bookmark them for future reference. I enjoyed your photos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Sue. Every autumn we see fungi around because England is often very cold and damp but this year we just happened to pay more attention to them. They're fascinating and so beautiful in their own ways. We didn't get round to drawing them, although I would have liked to. I think that'll be our project for next autumn! :-)

      Delete
  6. I love mushroom foraging, and can't wait until my son is old enough to safely learn about fungi. What a fantastic experience your son must have had.

    #countrykids

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We did have fun looking for and at the various types of fungi. It certainly sparked our interest! :-)

      Delete
  7. What a fun study!
    Blessings, Dawn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was, and we learnt much more than we had expected to! Thank you for stopping by, Dawn. :-)

      Delete
  8. What a fantastic study - so thorough as usual!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Claire. :-) There have been so many fungi around our way that it would be a shame to miss the opportunity to do something about it. :-)

      Delete
  9. I love this post, what an interesting investigation, I always become confused at the identifying stage as there seam so many that look similar. Fascinating experiment with the oyster mushroom too. thank you for joining me for Country Kids.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It took us quite a while to identify the different types of fungi, and sometimes we were not too sure whether we were absolutely correct, but we did our best. :-)

      Delete
  10. Fantastic post. We're going to an RSPB fungi festival walk on Tuesday and plan on doing the spores prints. I think I may get the boys to watch that YouTube clip tomorrow too. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Paula. I hope you enjoy the videos and the fungi walk. I haven't been to one organised by the RSPB but I'm sure it'll be very good! :-)

      Delete
  11. What is it about fungi that makes them so fascinating? Such an interesting life form! You got some wonderful photos of some brilliant learning experiences. Whenever I see Fly Agarics I have to stop and take loads of photos. They are just so magical, aren't they? I was very impressed with your bathroom mushrooms! Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fly Agarics are too beautiful to miss! I, too, have to stop and take photos of them from different angles each time I see them. :-) We didn't do much with the oyster mushrooms apart from letting them grow and watering them from time to time. They are much easier to grow than I had expected!

      Delete
  12. What a fun activity! I chose this post as one of my favorites from the Hearts for Home Blog Hop and featured it in this week's post: http://learningtable.blogspot.com/2014/10/hearts-for-home-blog-hop-86.html

    Thanks for linking up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the feature, Anne! :-)

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...