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Photo shoot: Macro mushroom

In the nearly 20 years I’ve lived in this home, I’ve encouraged the moss in my Pacific Northwest suburban home to completely take over my lawn. Perhaps it is this, or the complete lack of herbicides, or perhaps just dumb luck — but my yard seems to provide the ideal growing conditions for mushrooms.

Last year, when I invited an aborist over to help me with a problem I was having with a tree, he was very excited about my mushrooms, taking pictures to send to his botanist friends.

Here’s a photo taken almost exactly a year ago of the mushrooms in my front yard:

This morning I found a single mushroom growing beneath the cedar trees in the back yard. It’s quite large, with a cap about 8 inches wide:

I thought this would be a great time to get out my macro lens. First the cap:

Only when seeing it very up close did I notice that it’s rough bumps actually spiraled out from its center:

On the underside of a mushroom is a very soft, yet firm veil that protects the gills while the spores develop:

Up very close, the veil looks every bit as soft as it feels. I could almost have slipped a photo of clouds here and it would look nearly the same!

When the spores are ready, the veil peels away from the cap and forms a ring, called an annulus, around the stem. Beneath the veil are the gills, which was exposed so far in just one part of this mushroom. I didn’t want to tear it too far apart, so I was shooting at more of an extreme angle than would be ideal. Because of the angle and the light, it was hard to get much into focus:

My partner came out and held a flashlight so I could get a better shot:

I’d had high hopes for these mushroom photos, but the mysterious fungus was a bit underwhelming up close. I got more excited about the natural debris around it. Like the spore-bearing underside of this fern leaf:

Or, my favorite picture of the day, the lichen on this very tiny twig:

… and closer in:

That’s it for today!