Inky cap mushrooms are popular items in the Tumblr rounds lately, and not without reason. They look like something out of a stop-motion Tim Burton fairytale. But what first strikes as fancy is a very real phenomenon; the “ink” produced by coprinoid mushrooms is in fact the liquefaction of the gills. They begin white, then turn black, sometimes oozing down as a means of distributing spores more effectively.
Rumor has it that this ominous goo also makes a neat writing ink, but I’d stick to your ballpoint.
Better yet, some inky caps are edible. Though, again, never pick and eat wild plants or fungi—like so many others, coprinoid mushrooms are notoriously hard to differentiate, and unless you’re a renowned mycologist, you could end up noshing on a fatal dose. Even those species that are edible have the potential to land you in the emergency room, owing to a funny (not so funny) phenomenon responsible for the mushroom’s alter ego: tippler’s bane.
Scarf an inky cap on a belly full of booze and you’ll run into a full stop of miserable reactions, up to and including a heart attack in rare cases. The more you’ve imbibed or plan to drink, the worse off you’ll be. Isn’t mycology fun? —MN
I feel the need to post something incredibly cheery in order to combat this crazy dreary morning. Here’s a reminder that in just four short months (give or take) the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden will be springing back to life, full of happy bees and happy New Yorkers! (at Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden At The New York Botanical Garden) ~AR
So the floor of the deep ocean isn’t the best place to find forests of woody conifers. That’s de rigueur for most folks. Still, the remains of trees have a major say in the bustling lives of the strange creatures that do call the abyss home. That’s the word from the scientists of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, where a study in leaving logs on the barren sea floor is drumming up surprising results.
Far from the submerged desert that many believe it to be, the deep ocean offers a menagerie of oddball worms, crustaceans, fish and microorganisms—just as soon as the proper oasis pops up to provide nutrients. Geothermal vents are the most well-known example of undersea oases; sunken whale corpses, slightly lesser-known.
Now, enter the humble log.
Just as a tree is home to birds, insects, and fungus on land, the wood provides the perfect support for all manner of marine life. Despite having placed logs on the floor of the eastern Mediterranean, one of the most food-deprived areas known, the scientists found that “a variety of organisms managed to localize, settle, grow and reproduce” on their forestal deployments. The team even discovered some new species in the course of their efforts.
While fascinating on its own, especially in light of the driftwood creature communities washing ashore after Japan’s 2011 earthquake, the study may provide insight into the evolution and distribution of deep sea species otherwise deprived of regular sustenance. Click through for more. —MN
I do not know why this is making me giggle, but it is (I think it’s the idea of exiling them to the patio). There are tons of things in your pantry and fridge that you can use to give your garden a thrifty start. Organic dried beans and spices are the obvious choices, but don’t forget beautiful heirloom garlic from your local farmers market, ginger, avocado pits, Meyer lemon seeds, sweet potatoes, and more. Here’s a fun New York Times piece on the topic from a few years ago. ~AR
Over soaked black beans and they actually started sprouting. I’m relieved the food I buy is actually real food, but I’m hardly an urban farmer. Threw the sprouts onto the patio and left them to fend for themselves.
From Winners of the National Geographic Photo Contest 2012, one of 14 photos. Grand-Prize Winner: The Explosion! The subject’s name is Busaba, a well cared for Indochinese Tigress whose home is at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Thailand. I had taken many portraits of Busaba previously and it was becoming more and more difficult to come up with an image that appeared any different to the others. Which is why I took to observing her more carefully during my visits in the hope of capturing something of a behavioral shot. The opportunity finally presented itself while watching Busaba enjoying her private pool then shaking herself dry. In all humility I have to say that Mother Nature smiled favorably on me that day! (© Ashley Vincent/National Geographic Photo Contest)