Huffpost Denver
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Jason Salzman Headshot

Rip Out Your Flowers and Come to the Mushroom Fair

Posted: Updated:

I was weeding flowers the other day to make room for the mushrooms to grow in my garden.

That's not a typo.

If you love mushrooms like I do, you'll rip out your flowers so mushrooms can shine forth from the mulch beneath.

And now is a good time to make way for the mushrooms.

Heavy rains have left shrooms of all sizes and shapes popping up all over town.

You don't have to uproot your flowers, but at least let the mushrooms grow. Don't kick, smash, or poison them. Admire and respect the fungus.

All mushrooms in your yard aren't edible, to be sure, but if you let them be, they won't hurt you. You can handle them without any ill effects. And no one had died from eating mushrooms growing in Denver.

In fact, many (but not all!) are edible and much better tasting than the typical grocery store variety.

For example, Marasmius oreades, or the Fairy Ring Mushroom, is a prized gourmet variety in France. And it's common on Denver lawns!

The catch is, how to tell the difference between the ones that will make you sick, like the common Vomiter mushroom in Denver, and the yummy ones.

To start, you should attend the Colorado Mycological Society's Mushroom Fair, at the Denver Botanical Gardens, Sun., Aug. 11, from 11 am to 5 pm.

Experts will be on hand to identify any mushroom you bring in, plus you'll see a huge display of mushrooms from the mountains and urban areas.

There are kids' activities, cultivation and cooking displays, and arrangements of mushrooms growing in natural habitats.

The colors and shapes of the mushrooms at the fair will blow you away.

But not in the way you might be thinking. Hallucinogenic mushrooms do not grow in Colorado. Some desperate people eat Amanita muscaria, which is common at high elevations, in hopes of altering their state of consciousness.

But I've tried it, and I can vouch for the fact that it's only hallucinogenic if you like the delirium produced from chills and sweating. In other words, it's poisonous.

It's the only time I've been poisoned in 40 years of hunting mushrooms in Colorado, and it was by choice and legal. I've always been extremely careful, and it's worked for me.

It hasn't gone so well for the flowers I've chopped down for the sake of the mushrooms, but if you study biology you know it's a mean world.