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Wild Mushrooms Pics Featured in Online Fungi Guide

Mushroom pholiotas

The Pholiota squarrosa mushroom, commonly known as the Shaggy Pholiota, is but one of many striking mushroom photos that comprise the Kingdom of Fungi Index created and maintained by photography and mushroom enthusiast Taylor Lockwood.

This particular species appears at the base of old trees, and on logs or stumps. It smells and tastes like a radish and, although not deadly, it is considered mildly toxic.

Taylor created the Kingdom of Fungi Index as a service to amateur and professional mushroom hunters, or "mycologists," who are interested in mushrooms for aesthetic or scientific reasons. The site is searchable by both Latin and common names for each species, as well as location, color and whether they are deadly or not.

Many mushroom species are symbiotic with trees, helping them absorb nutrients and minerals. Trees return the favor and provide sugars to the fungal mycelium in the ground. "It's a symbiotic relationship that many people are not aware of," Lockwood says. "Mushrooms also recycle organic matter to make it usable by plants, animals and other fungi."

Lockwood's career of photographing mushrooms has provided him with a lot of human connectivity as well. "I have traveled the world exhibiting my photos and educating people about mushrooms, and they in turn have shared their enthusiasm and knowledge with me."

Mycology, the study of mushroom and other fungi, is rapidly expanding with new information. All the major antibiotics that exist today were originally extracted from fungi and scientists are finding new immune system enhancing and anti-cancer properties in fungi all the time, Lockwood notes. "Shitake mushrooms used in gourmet cooking are not just tasty; they are also very good for us."

The Kingdom of Fungi Index benefits more than mycologists. "Toddlers and pets frequently ingest mushrooms," Lockwood said. The site assists parents, pet owners, doctors and veterinarians in identifying potentially harmful mushrooms.

- Diane Banegas, NSF


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