A morning walk in the Enchanted Mushroom Forest

Sunday morning, the dogs and I headed up to the Enchanted Mushroom Forest for a good long walk. Well, I’ll admit I had an ulterior motive. The forest has enjoyed the magic combination of rain and heat that leads to the fruiting of mushrooms. In past years I haven’t found the summer mushrooms this early. Usually there is a longer gap between the oysters (beginning of June) and the first chanterelles. However, this has been a strange year so far so I figured it was worthwhile checking out the forest. Of course it does me and the dogs plenty of good to wander about in a forest.

I didn’t see any mushrooms of any sort fruiting in the forest. The only thing I saw of interest was some Monotropa uniflora – known around here as Indian Pipe and also sometimes called the Corpse Plant.

Indian Pipe is a herbaceous perennial plant that is fairly common in our Southern Ontario forests. I usually notice it in early summer. The curious thing about this plant is that it is white and contains no chlorophyll. Unlike plants that generate energy from sunlight, the Indian Pipe needs to have certain fungi present, fungi that have a special relationship with trees. If I understand it correctly, this plant draws energy from the trees via the fungi by tapping into the mycelia of the fungi. If there are any naturalists out there who would care to elaborate on how all this works, please leave me a comment. I think it’s fantastic that the fungus and the trees and the Indian Pipe have this special three-way relationship going on.

The particular forest where I shot the photo has plenty of Indian Pipe but is always surprises me when I see it because it is so unusual.

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