Last week the TN Naturalists@Ijams class of 2017 explored the mysterious world of mycology i.e. fungus.
Often overlooked because they are too weird or complex to know, fungi have an important role in the environment. They are decomposers. Wherever you find them, you find something dead being broken down into its constituent nutrients to be recycled by the living.
Ijams volunteer naturalist Nick Stahlman led the field trip and raised our M.A.Q. (Mushroom Awareness Quotient). And everywhere we looked we found fungi and lichen.
Visible mushrooms are the above ground fruiting bodies of the much larger fungi that lives below the surface in a network of root-like filaments called hyphae that make up the mycelium that can be enormous.
Some above ground "shrooms" are remarkably ephemeral. Their maturation ends with the mushroom's gills dispersing spores.
If you are into nature, you are into Ijams.
The statewide TN Naturalist@Ijams program we teach is 40 hours of classes, 40 hours of volunteering. Interested in next year? Call Lauren about the 2018 class at 577-4717, ext. 135.
- Supplied photos by naturalist and commercial photographer Kristy Keel-Blackmon