Oct 26 2009

Spinster aunt laughed out of town

Beware of the Blob

Beware of the Blob

See this mondo fungal blob? Well, hold onto your hats, because it is the self-same mondo fungal blob a photo of which I posted a few days ago. Back then, it struck me as one of a genus of mushroom known to fungus geeks as Agaricus. It struck me thus because, I am ashamed to admit, I didn’t bother to perform even the most rudimentary identification procedures. By which I mean: chopping it down and hacking it open with a machete to reveal the colony of merry little elves that typically reside within.

By now you will have surmised that my Agaricus was no Agaricus at all. This became painfully apparent when it matured and turned into the amorphous yellow blob pictured above, absent the characteristic tribe of elves.

Well, what the hell is it, then, you ask? Here at Spinster HQ we are now identifying the specimen as some species of Calvatia, a weird puffball-type dealio that is reportedly delicious when served with aerosol cheese and a $6 Vinho Verde, but I personally wouldn’t eat that thing with a ten-foot pole.

Crapulently, my revised identification comes too late for me to secure the lucrative keynote speaker gig at FungoCon 09.

O the ridicule I have endured. O the ignominy. Sure, it’s all well and good to observe an enormous excrescence of spores, snap a photo with the old camerafone, and declare to an audience of casual blog readers — who, let’s face it, only come around to see whether they can catch me in an antifeminist faux pas and couldn’t care less about heartwarming nature crap screw-ups — “check out this Agaricus!” And even Savage Death Islandists are likely to take the spinster aunt’s word for it, since spinster aunts (a) enjoy a close genetic relationship with mushrooms (the obstreperal lobe is composed of a pulsating spore mass) and (b) are globally renowned, award-nominated, rockstar fungusperts (now you know why we always get the best tables in restaurants). But my colleagues in the Cottonmouth County Mycological Society, a cut-throat gang of ne’er-do-wells if ever there was one, will never look upon me with the same adoring eyes again.


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  1. MCF

    Nah. We loves you even when it’s a heart-warming nature-crap strange mushroom pas.

  2. Pinko Punko

    I don’t even get invited to their stonings. They have extended invites for me to taste certain oak forest floor loving species with the word “death” in their common names.

  3. Linda

    I just read this for the funny. Even mushrooms are funny.

  4. Carolyn

    That is funny-when I saw the first picture I thought ‘I bet you could eat that’, but left it there since I personally don’t eat fungi (I should just rip those pages out of my new copy of Food for Free).

  5. Notorious Ph.D.

    That nature crap is NOT heartwarming. I want my money back.

  6. Orange

    Oh, come off it, Jill. Don’t play innocent here. You know damn well this was all a fungal hoax. You’re just trying to get attention and maybe a TV show.

  7. madeleine

    You’re always welcome in my town. Mushrooms galore here in Amsterdam.

  8. Pinko Punko

    Al Capone’s Mushroom Agaricus vault indeed.

  9. Comrade PhysioProf

    Jill, your cadre of mycological concern trolls is apparently falling down on the job. I suggest you recruit some new ones right away.

  10. Roov

    I THOUGHT that looked like a puffball! I was going to comment with an enthusiastic “did you take it home and eat it?”

    But I trusted your mad fungus identifying skillz, and when I read that Agaricus has a number of species both edible and poisonous I assumed you had made the right call in leaving it alone.

    Puffballs, with their lack of gills, are the only mushroom I confidently recognize and dare to pluck from the earth and devour, and they are tasty.

    If not plucked and devoured, though, they can still be fun. When I was a wee kid, we used to enjoy finding the mushy blob ones and squirting the scary green paste around. We also liked to find the powdery spore ones, and puff the grayish dust around.

    Basically any way we could find to get fungus innards on stuff was good fun.

  11. dillene

    Uhhh, how fast is that thing growing?

  12. slythwolf

    I predict this mushroom is going to rise up and devour the entire Southwest.

  13. Ron Sullivan

    Geez, it’s not as if it were something obvious like a first-fall Thayer’s x Iceland gull hybrid.

  14. Slade

    Jeopardy Answer: ‘Aerosol Cheese.’ Question: ‘What best describes the American Experience?’

  15. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    I am sincerely grateful for *any* heartwarming nature crap because I am cooling my heels in the hospital nursing a sizeable blood clot in my right lung. Since the soopa-doopa drugs are working, I feel ever so much better and am rather resentful at being confined. But the docs tell me this is some serious shit, so cool my heels I must, and be content to drag my carcass up & down the hall too many times to count.

  16. Larkspur

    Antoinette: cool them heels! Take them soopa-doopa drugs! We needs you. I needs you. I am glad things seem to be going well, and consider it a great sign that you are cranky and restless. Hee, in other words, NORMALish.

    BTW, Jill, this whole post is a fraud. You cannot be laughed out of town. You don’t live in town. El Rancho cannot be El Towno Rancho without havoc being wrought in my mycological lobelet.

    Once again, I have contributed effulgently to the discourse. Yay me!

  17. TwissB

    Next time, pack a little mirror with you to insert under the cryptic fungus to show diagnostic underside features like gills or pore surface, stem and ring, if any, color, and whatever else turns up. You can even take sneaky underside photographs with your amazingly sharp cameraphone. What brand is that remarkable instrument, by the way? Fungus-watching has one obvious advantage over bird-watching – fungi may mutate, but they do stay put while doing it. They also have one advantage over plants – you can handle any without fear of skin pooisoning. Sniff them, chew a tiny fragment to tell if it is peppery or not and spit it out immediately, but DON’T EAT ANY OF THEM. For exquisite design and color variations in a wide assortment of sizes and host locations, fungi are plain fascinating.

    p.s. I can’t wait to hear what Jill will have to say on discovering her first Phallus impudicus, alias Stinkhorn, at El Rancho Deluxe.

  18. Jill

    “p.s. I can’t wait to hear what Jill will have to say on discovering her first Phallus impudicus, alias Stinkhorn, at El Rancho Deluxe.”

    The deed is already done, TwissB.

  19. TwissB

    Darn, I should have known that you, Jill the intrepid, would have sniffed out a Phallus impudicus long before I dug up this rare truffle of a blog.

  20. Finisterre

    I don’t know whether to be excited or afraid at the thought that aerosol cheese might someday appear in Blighty.

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