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Shope Creek, Pisgah Forest

 Shope Creek, Pisgah Forest

Shope Creek, Pisgah Forest

The other day Takoda and I hiked in the Pisgah Forest by Shope Creek.  We were hoping to find Painted Suillus mushrooms for ecology class.  Though we didn't exactly discover those, we learned many valuable ecology lessons and the creek was beautiful.

 Fungi Architecture, Pisgah Forest

Fungi Architecture, Pisgah Forest

There is so much biodiversity here and so many types of fungi. I will do my best to learn them all, as this area is so fascinating and may possibly contain important information as to how we can save our planet from destruction.  However, it is incredibly hard to figure out which type of fungi you are looking at sometimes.  I am just fascinated crawling around on the ground discovering what there is to see.  Each step we take potentially destroys these ecosystems.  More and more I feel the call to tread lightly.

 Shope Creek Pisgah Forest Trail in Autumn

Shope Creek Pisgah Forest Trail in Autumn

Takoda and I ventured along this trail the day after hurricane Nate visited the mountains.  Fortunately, the winds were not quite as high as expected and it moved quickly, the end result being dashes of color began to emerge.  Such subtle beauty along the trail was food for my soul.

 Red Canopy

Red Canopy

Sometimes looking through the leaves is the best medicine.  It has been so long since I have been able to enjoy the changing seasons in essentially my backyard. And purple asters have become new friends. 

 Purple Asters

Purple Asters

But the real gems of the day were fungi in symbiotic relationships with the trees. Takoda and I were on a hunt for the Painted Suillus, but I don't think that is what we found despite finding a fungi at the base of a white pine.  Nevertheless, when Takoda sniffed out these mushrooms and led me to them, I felt the interdependence of plant and micorrhizae was instantly apparent.  Many have argued that plants would not exact on this earth if the mycorrhizae were not here around 450 million years ago. 

 Fungi at the Base of a White Pine

Fungi at the Base of a White Pine

 Pisgah Forest Symbionts

Pisgah Forest Symbionts

It has been argued that the mycorrhizal symbiotic relationship with their host plants is the most significant mycorrhizal relationship on earth.  The symbiosis improves the health of the host plant, decreases irrigation and fertilization requirements, decreases carbon, mitigates climate change, increases pathogen resistance, and likely is the key to saving planet earth if our home can be save.

 Cupcake-shaped Fungi, Pisgah Forest

Cupcake-shaped Fungi, Pisgah Forest

On the way out of the forest, we came across two interesting fungi. this was the first.  It was so huge that it looked like a cupcake.  I tapped the top gently with a stick, and multitudes of spores were released into the air.

 Pisgah Forest Slime Mold

Pisgah Forest Slime Mold

This area I have chosen to move to has perhaps the greatest biodiversity on earth.  According to my ecology professor, there might be one place in China that is comparable.  I have to wonder if this diversity is related to the proliferation of fungi in the area.  Mushrooms and fungi, especially those with symbiotic relationships with host plants, have hyphae that branch and extend outwards in many directions absorbing nutrients and taking in carbon. They improve the health of plants while benefiting soil structure and aiding in combatting climate change.  While I was researching mycorrhizae, I came across this slogan from a German company: "Mycorrhiza For All: An Underground Revolution."  Step lightly, the mycorrhizae could be saving the earth for you and your offspring.