March 4th, 2010


Extreme mycophobia

What you do if mushrooms grew out of the wall of your apartment? I hope you would call your landlord right away and see about getting the plumbing (or the leak on the roof--Vegas just suffered pretty major rainstorms) fixed, 'cause the water that nourished that fungus is coming from somewhere. Instead this woman called a "third party testing company" to see if her family was in any danger from the mushrooms, and then contacted the local news--who made it their top story.

"They're gross. They're disgusting. I'm horrified," said Barbara Ruz. "I almost feel scared to be at home. From school, I brought home masks to cover our faces because I was so freaked out."

This a reminder for me of the general public's attitude toward mushrooms, and how remarkable it is that I can teach a class 4 times a year on what these things are and what they do. I think if many people had their way they'd obliterate mushrooms from the face of the earth.

To be fair, the tenant did call the property manager, and the response was inadequate--they picked the mushrooms and painted over the spot, missing the essential problem: sufficient moisture in the walls of a house in the desert to grow mushrooms.

Lucky for them, they appear to me to be Coprinus mushrooms, which are usually produced by a short-living fungus that feeds on a rich, quickly exhausted food supply. What that food supply might be is another mystery that should probably be solved along with the water source issue.