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A Walk Through Mushroom Forest

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This weekend, I went on a retreat with some writer friends to a campground in Grand Haven, Michigan. While looking for a place to smoke a joint in some peace and god damn quiet (because it was a campground and they were having some sort of Halloween family weekend or something and there were kids just everywhere), I wandered off into the woods. It was just regular old woods, just like around any camp ground, meaning it was full of trash and junk that people had rudely disposed of out there (including a rubber glove, which I don’t even want to think about). But there did seem to be a trail, and as I ventured down it, I saw something that wasn’t trash:

The forest floor, with vibrant green moss, brown dead leaves, and bright orange mushrooms.

Mushrooms! Bright orange mushrooms, like I’d never seen before. Obviously, more investigation was needed.

(The rest of this post is image heavy, so I’m putting it behind a cut)

I found all kinds of mushrooms, like this one, which is incredibly toxic, so never eat it.

A tall white mushroom against a field of brown forest debris, like sticks and leaves.

In fact, never eat any random mushroom you just happen to find in the woods. Even if it looks like fruit snacks:

These are mushrooms that, hand to god, look just like fruit snacks or wine gums or what have you.

Don’t eat mushrooms that look like something else has been eating it:

A pink and white mushroom that has clearly been nibbled by some kind of fauna.

Not necessarily because it might be poisonous (though it might), but because it’s rude to eat someone else’s dinner.

I found a slug:

My hand, holding a dead leaf upon which a little slug is perched.

I’m pretty sure he wasn’t dead.

I also found a chair that is definitely for some kind of elven king:

A tree stump with flat, orange mushrooms growing on it, around the sides and the rim of the top.

And what is almost certainly a meeting place for fairies:

Another stump, this one covered in bright green lichen and little tiny red mushrooms like berries.

I have never seen so many different mushrooms in my life. For example, purple ones:

A little purple mushroom peeking out from under some dead leaves.

Let alone purple mushrooms that look like a little penis head.

Mushrooms were everywhere!

A living tree, covered in scaly brown mushrooms.

A flat-topped brown mushroom



Bright green ferns with the teensiest little round-capped brown mushrooms poking out.


A little clump of green fern stuff with a single tan mushroom beside it. It's like a little island in the middle of some dead leaves.


And as I walked around taking these pictures, I remembered that where you see mushrooms, there’s stuff going on under the ground. I got the weirdest feeling that I was walking around on top of a giant mushroom. That, coupled with my desire to venture ever deeper into the forest, following the trail of mushrooms, pretty much convinced me that I was going to be devoured at some point. So I fled.

That was my visit to the mushroom forest. If you enjoy seeing random pictures from my pointless adventures, might I suggest visiting my Instagram? If you go there right now, you can see a picture of a toad.

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  1. Helen22

    I like mushrooms that grow on tree trunks. It’s like they’re reaching for the stars.

    October 3, 2016
  2. Kylie

    I have been missing out on your Instagram. Your soaps are so pretty. <3 <3 :3

    October 3, 2016
  3. A lot of rain this past week. Good for sprouting mushrooms.

    October 3, 2016
  4. Xebi

    Wow, what an amazing variety. When I was a student many years ago, I learned a LOT about mushrooms because we wanted to collect the, um, recreationally appropriate ones whilst not dying horribly from poison. So yeah, the bulk of the (very huge) organism lives below ground and what you see is just kind of like a few little tentacles it puts above ground. There are obviously some very special things going on under THAT forest.

    October 4, 2016
    • ViolettaD

      I never knew that! Kind of like an iceberg.
      I was told years ago that the “recreational” ones abound on cow-patties–pick them and if the edges turn purple, that’s the one. Never tried it.

      October 4, 2016
      • Xebi

        Not sure about the cow pats 😉 but it is certainly true that mushrooms of the hallucinogenic variety do go purple/blue around cut or torn edges. If we want to get technical, it indicates the presence of a chemical called psilocybin, which is what makes you happy and bouncy and patterned carpets suddenly become VERY interesting.

        However, you would also need to be aware that just because a mushroom is hallucinogenic does not necessarily mean it isn’t also poisonous.

        October 5, 2016
  5. Eileen

    Jenny, you’ve heard of the humongous fungus, right? Turns out there totally is a giant subterranean fungus in Michigan (and I think one in WA state?) and it covers 37 acres. At one point it was the world’s largest fungus! So depending on where you were, you totally could have been walking over it, for real. SUPER COOL OMFG

    October 4, 2016
  6. Christine

    Never ever eat a wild mushroom unless you are an expert on mushrooms! A friends mom made a curry out of what she thought were chantrelles that she picked in the forest, tasted her curry and now has permanent brain damage! She went into convulsions etc and was in a coma for a bit. So sad.

    October 4, 2016
    • Xebi

      Holy fuck. That’s terrible. 🙁

      October 5, 2016
  7. Sarah

    This is a great, cute post. A palate cleanser, especially after the depressing horridness that is Grey.

    October 5, 2016
  8. Lieke

    I love the yellow, green and purple ones. So pretty!

    October 5, 2016
  9. Twitchlet

    It is definitely mushroom season! So magical.

    I went mushrooming two weeks ago on the west coast and found a TON of different species. If you live in the PNW and are interested in learning how to forage, I highly recommend All That the Rain Promises and More by David Arora. It does an excellent job walking you through identifying species and shows you the poisonous lookalikes of common edibles. We found, identified, and joyously devoured boletes, chanterelles, lobster mushrooms, and oyster mushrooms. All delicious, all non-toxic. 😀

    October 5, 2016
  10. Maybe it was like the human-fertilized mushroom garden from S1E02 of Hannibal.

    October 5, 2016
  11. Jane

    Neat pictures. Mushrooms in great quantities like this always make me think of the Field Trip episode of the X-Files where the giant underground mushroom tries to dissolve Mulder and Scully. Probably a weird place for my brain to go, but there it is.

    October 21, 2016

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