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Fungal Finds For Research

Mushrooms are more than just tasty food for humans! Mushrooms and their mycorrhizal horizons—the underground relationship between a fungus and a plant’s root system—are extremely important to conservation work and local ecosystems. Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of the fungi in the soil. When the ecosystem has healthy mycorrhizae living in the soil, native plants flourish and the wildlife is sustained. As Associate Biologist of Rocks Biological Consulting, Chris Thomson puts it; “Fungi essentially set the table for entire ecosystems to exist and flourish.” This is why collecting and foraging for mushrooms is not allowed on Preserved lands unless permitted for research projects such as the one conducted this fall.

The Escondido Conservancy partnered with The San Diego Mycological Society to conduct a survey of the mushrooms and fungi located on one of the Conservancy’s preserves. This study marks the beginning of The San Diego Mycological Society’s partnership with the North American Mycological Society to build a comprehensive species catalog of mushrooms and fungi found in the San Diego Region. The fungi and mushrooms were discovered in their natural habitat on the preserve, which is along riparian streams that have damp shaded areas.

The species of fungi found on this excursion to the preserve included gilled mushrooms, polypores, slime molds, lichens, and small brown mushrooms. There were at least 20 different species documented! The documentation of these species is extremely important for locating areas that currently have healthy mycorrhizae, and which areas need more help in terms of restoration.

As the rainy season continues in our San Diego Region, The Escondido Creek Conservancy hopes to continue to partner with The San Diego Mycological Society to survey and catalog the fungi and mushrooms growing on the Conservancy’s many other Preserves. Stay tuned for more mushroom news!