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Mushroom show on, thanks to downpours

Got 'shrooms?

Those ubiquitous mushrooms popping up all over lawns in Union County and surrounding areas are just the start of what's to come, according to a local expert – especially if the region gets more rain.

Thanks to the downpours we've already had, “it's probably going to be a pretty showy late summer, early fall for mushrooms,” said David Grant, urban forester with Union County Cooperative Extension Service.

“Go get a mushroom guide and sit back and watch the show.”

Credit the flourish to the recent combination of moisture and warm temperatures. That allows ever-present mushroom spores – those microscopic particles that easily find their way to soil via wind, animals, or lawn equipment – to germinate and multiply.

Grant says you're likely seeing two types of mushrooms. Fairy Ring mushrooms have pancake-like flat tops running as much as six-inches across. Puff Balls are the round ones that seem to explode into black dust if you hit them with your foot.

Look, and even touch – provided you wear gloves or wash your hands well afterward, Grant advised. But don't eat mushrooms found outdoors, he said. Stick with the ones in the supermarket.

Although some may find mushrooms unsightly, Grant said, they're a sign of a lot of things going right in the ecosystem: “It's nature's decomposer. It's turning organic matter into soil.”

– Celeste Smith

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