I’ve always been fascinated by fungi. They’re incredibly delicate, and yet a mushroom you can scar with a fingernail can also lift a concrete sidewalk slab. One fungus specimen that lives in symbiosis with a very mature oak tree in England has been documented as occupying the soil in as much as a four-mile-radius around the tree—along with the tree’s extended root system. In Oregon there is a single fungus so large, it can be placed on a map.
This summer has been good for fungi in northern Illinois because it was wet, then dry, then wet, then dry, and mostly cool. On our walks through woods in the Chicago metropolitan area my husband and I have seen a lot of fun fungi. Here are some samples, sortakinda identified.
Do not under any circumstances try to identify a fungus from these pictures yourself, and for goodness’ sake, don’t eat it! There are poisonous lookalikes for every mushroom in the world except for morels, and it would be dangerous to assume there’s no false morel out there, waiting to poison some overconfident mycologist.
Here you go.