Such diversity in two short city blocks

Shaggy mane fungus, Coprinus comatus

Keep your eyes open, and Toronto’s diversity is all around you. All it took was a walk to the Toronto Public Library, just two blocks away.

Three different species of fungi hailed me as I passed with my camera – and I’m sure that many more were camera shy.

I’m not a mycologist, but two of these were fairly distinctive. Thanks to online sources, including the Ontario Woodlot Association and Windsor Ontario’s Ojibway Nature Centre, I could positively ID one of these mushrooms, and also find a likely candidate for a second one, both of them edible. The third mushroom is so undistinguished, it’s hard to be certain what it is.

Possibly Pear-Shaped Puffball, Lycoperdon pyriforme

Many a forager has had a sore tummy – or much worse – from wrongly identifying a wild mushroom. When it comes to eating mushrooms from the wild, it’s best to follow the basic tenet of editing: if in doubt, leave it out.

Mystery Mushroom

Perhaps, like Alice in Wonderland’s caterpillar, I need to ask: Mr. Mushroom, Whooooo are yooooooou?

Of the online photo resources that popped up in the search, let me single out the rather charming Toronto Wildlife, which seems to be cataloguing all of Toronto’s resident flora and fauna, including fossils. Twenty-eight species of fungi and lichen are shown, and six lovely slime moulds. It’s fun to see who we share the city with.

Pass the mushroom omelet.

[Update: Sharp-eyed reader Veronica notes that the Mycological Society of Toronto is also a great resource. In fact, I did check their site, but forgot to include them. Mea culpa. Or mea coprinus. A link to their website has long been listed among the specialty plant societies in our list on the right.]


  1. What a very interesting and fun post! I've always been a fan of fun-guys 🙂 since I took an incredible Mycology course in Thunder Bay with a rather legendary professor Dr.Hutchison, who's actually speaking at the Mycological Society of Toronto this month: Glad to see other people taking note of Toronto's fascinating natural history!

  2. I watch out for fungi in the autumn. Some are old friends which pop up in the same place each year. When they don't (generally because their habitat has been disturbed) I feel friends are missing.

    The Toronto Wildlife site is fascinating.

  3. Joey, I remember vividly when our Aunt Beryl took us on a tour of the local woods (outside of Yellowknife, NWT) to see what mushrooms were living there. We took samples and made impressions of gill patterns and watched as some deliquesced – I love that word – which means dissolved into ink. The range of species was astounding. I've retained a love and respect for the lowly fungus.

    Kate, Thanks for the link. I've shared it on Twitter.

    Esther, People must feel an innate affinity for mushrooms and toadstools, or they wouldn't crop up so often in children's literature. It's nice to think of them as friends.

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