Fly Agaric Fungi + Wild Parsnip

Found these two species (I would have said ‘two plants’ but these days, and for good reasons, fungi are no longer plants but a separate ‘kingdom’ altogether  – see note below) in close association at the arboretum about a week ago.

The tall green plant is wild parsnip which is generally worth avoiding as its sap on the skin can induce photosenstivity and lead to blistering. Not a native species, but one introduced be early settlers as a food plant and now far too widely dispersed to be controllable.

The fungus is fly agaric and the original gnome’s home toadstool. It is pretty poisonous but not usually fatal as widely believed though it will probably make you pretty sick if you eat it … but why would you? This specimen was one of a group of some eight or nine fruiting bodies near a conifer in Dale’s Pasture and approximately a foot in diameter.  Pretty impressive.  We did not see and gnomes.

Why fungi are no longer plants as we were all taught in biology classes a lifetime ago:
Fungi used to be considered plants, but as time and knowledge grew it was realized that fungi were a unique “in betweener” to both plants and animals and they were given their own separate kingdom. They grow out of the soil and have rigid cell walls like plants. But like animals, they have chitin in their cell walls, instead of lignin, and store reserve food as glycogen (Chitin is the polysaccharide that gives hardness to the external skeletons of lobsters and insects). Also like animals, they lack chlorophyll and are heterotrophic, releasing digestive enzymes into their surroundings and absorbing nutrients back. 

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