There are boletes in the bottom of my garden

Actually, following on two days of extraordinarily humid weather locally, there are boletes everywhere in my little garden strip, from one end to the other. By the time Erick Barros was able to come and take photos, they’d mostly reached a terminal stage, so this photo will require some explanation:

(#1) Among the creeping English ivy: two boletus mushrooms nearing the end of their days: their yellowish-brown caps have bleached considerably, and the sides of the caps have curled up, showing the pores on their undersides

Two comments about this posting. First comment: I’ve been unable to write much for many days, because (though I’m generally in what counts as splendid health for me) several joints on my right hand are grotesquely swollen and inflamed, making all typing an exercise in endurance through great pain. I’ve been trying to advance on a big rambling posting on a set of men’s underwear ads, managing only a page or two each day. Now I’m hoping I can manage a much shorter boletus posting.

Second comment: lacking any way to take photos of things, I’d hoped to find images on the net of boletes similar to mine, but it turns out that all the ones I could find (even on non-profit sites) are copyrighted and require a fee for use, so I had to wait until EB could come by and use his phone’s camera for me.

boletus mushrooms / boletes. From Wikipedia:

The Boletaceae are a family of mushroom-forming fungi, primarily characterised by small pores on the spore-bearing hymenial surface (at the underside of the mushroom), instead of gills as are found in most agarics [AZ: your conventional convex-capped mushrooms with prominent stems]. Nearly as widely distributed as the agarics, the family is renowned for hosting some prime edible species highly sought after by mushroom hunters worldwide [AZ: porcini, for example] … As a whole, the typical members of the family are commonly known as boletes.
… the majority [of] Boletaceae species are symbiotic, and form mutually beneficial ectomycorrhizal associations with various trees and shrubs.
Now, there were two arborvitae (Thuja) shrubs in my garden strip when Jacques and I moved into the condo back in 1987, but they were already large and looming and steadily growing more so, so we long ago had them cut off at the ground level. It’s possible that  my boletes grew symbiotically with these large shrubs, but that was a long time ago, and in any case the boletes are appearing far from the arborvitae stumps. In fact, one appeared earlier this year in a spot where surely no tree or shrub had grown since before the condos were built, roughly five decades ago: in a crack between the foundation of the building and the tiled surface of the front patio — in the spot shown in this photo:

(#2) That’s not grout in the crack, but a filling of organic matter built up over the years from decaying leaves and the nutrient-rich grit from the Gobi Desert that, annoyingly, rains down on us constantly; earlier this year, during another humid phase, an impressively large and handsome boletus appeared, bizarrely, growing out of that crack

The question is then, where did the spores come from to seed this vegetative apparition? Obviously, not dropped or expelled from a bolete living symbiotically with a tree.

But: the spores are tiny and light, and are easily carried by breezes for considerable distances. And are then able to lie dormant for long spans of time until a stretch of warm humidity comes along. Apparently I have a great stock of dormant boletus spores on my patio, and when the conditions are favorable, they will sprout into mushrooms. Cool.

As I said, right now they’re out from one end of my little garden strip to the other — it’s gotten cooler and much drier, so they won’t be around much longer. It’s not clear that they’re all the same boletus species. Here’s EB’s (gorgeous) photo of a cluster at the south end of the strip (the two in #1 are at the north end, right by the gate into the patio):

(#3) These are also nearing the end of their days, but they might not have been strikingly yellowish-brown when they flourished

Postlude. Well, it took 6 hours for me to do this little posting, with lots of pain breaks, but I did it. Oh yes: and see that, like Mary, Queen of Scots, I’m Not Dead Yet.



2 Responses to “There are boletes in the bottom of my garden”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    Ok, never do things from memory. It’s “There are Fairies *at* the Bottom of My Garden” — a poem by Rose Amy Fyleman, published in 1917, set to music my Liza Lehmann, the song famously performed on stage by Beatrice Lillie. Fyleman was tremendously enthusiastic about the fairy folk.

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    Another wrinkle in all of this. When the boletes appear, the squirrels return to my garden to savage them (and leave chunks of boletus around my patio). Apparently, squirrels are really really fond of boletes and can sniff them out at some distance (otherwise, my patio no longer has anything to attract squirrels). I have a keen sense of smell for a human being, but (it seems) nowhere near the sensitivity of your average squirrel (or, of course, dog), since for me the boletes are scentless, even up close.

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