Exploring Vermont with a Fun “gi”

A Sparassis crispa fungus or califlower
mushroom decorates this tree
Throughout the state of Vermont, thousands of different species of fungi co-exist amongst us. Ranging in size from microscopic to very large, these organisms serve a multitude of purposes that, without their presence, would change the face of the world as we know it. As many of us know these unique life forms can be found in many of the items we encounter daily, from foods to medicines. Though, many forms of fungi can be harmful, even deadly, their presence is essential to maintain life on earth. Breaking down organic life forms, to become a part of the earth and soil, allows ecosystems to both grow and thrive, maintaining the beautiful places we all enjoy escaping to for recreation and general enjoyment.

A Polyporus spp. fungus or shelf
mushroom taken in Maidstone State Park
Though fungi can be found on the forest floor when snow no longer blankets it, it is after a steady rain, such as the ones we’ve been having, that their presence is more widespread. The truly unique shapes, sizes and colors that are displayed will simply amaze you. This would be the time, to purchase a field guide and go out on a backcountry adventure to seek out and learn about these amazingly beautiful, useful and distinctive life forms. This is especially true with autumn and fall foliage hiking season steadily approaching. So plan accordingly and head on out to one of Vermont’s premier state parks or hiking trails to experience these immobile, but ever active Vermont residents.

-Eric Bouchard, Assistant Ranger, Maidstone State Park

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