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Pisolithus arrhizus - Dead Man's Foot / Horse-Dung Fungus

 
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Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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So I started noticing this rather gross looking 'thing' popping up all along my driveway and finally decided to investigate and I'm glad I did.

As you might have gathered from the title, this fungus is not the most visually appealing:



Don't let it's looks deceive you, though. Come to find out even though it's not really good as an edible (although another common name is Belgian Truffle) or medicinal it is a great mycorrhizal that isn't very picky about it's host tree. I guess it's one of the most used ingredients in myco mixes sold commercially.

Bay Area Mushrooms write up on these guys here.

Yet another common name is Dyer's ball, due to the fact that it can be used to produce some great shades of brown:



I've attached pictures of some of the ones I found on the driveway. Once I realized what they were I promptly gathered a number of them and spread them all over my property. These things are just big blobs of spores at the top so that got sprinkled around every oak on the property. The more immature pieces that had yet to release their spores got jammed into crotches of trees along my ridges where hopefully the wind will catch the spores and spread them all over.
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Not the pretties mushroom I've seen
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Lot's of spores mass at the top
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Did I mention lot's of spores?
 
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When we sterilize everything today, have no gut microbiome or only unhealthy bacteria, and we wonder why people didn't all get sick in the old days, this is one reason why. In addition, how come the food in the old days had so much more nutrition in it? Not only did this fungus use the nutrients from the animals and turn them into useful nutrients that stayed in the soil, there were other ways. That feeds protozoa, bacteria, nematodes, cilia, etc. either directly or indirectly. Dung beetles picked up dung into balls and moved it all around the pasture. There are many types of fungi that would transform these nutrients and make use of them for the habitat. Some of these fungi are eventually useful foods for humans, and some aren't but they all help the soil have a biodiverse community for health and resiliency. The ones that are edible for us feed our gut microbiome and keep us healthy. This fits in perfectly with Alan Savory's work on the natural ecosystem of grassland animals and the animals that live there who can restore it to health and decrease desertification.
John S
PDX OR
 
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This and other poisonous and inedible fungi, when they appear in abundance, I have turned to yield by feeding them to my black soldier flies, which devour them with relish, and turn them into chicken feed!
 
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