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Alabama Adventures: Longleaf Pine Treasure Forest

After hearing about Pinus palustris from several southern botanist friends, I had to see the trees for myself! I had the great pleasure of ...

20 October 2016

Mushroom Hunting in October: Petrifying Springs Park

Octobers are great for mushroom hunting! I don't look for edibles, though. I just like seeing all sorts of fungi.

I went to three sites so far to find mushrooms: Petrifying Springs Park in Kenosha, Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, and Somme Woods in Northbrook. I love Petrifying Springs because of the many steep trails and interesting bridges. I'll start with Petrifying Springs, and make separate posts for other sites I've visited this month.

Petrifying Springs Park

I wasn't sure if I'd find a lot of mushrooms here, but I figured even if I found only a few, the beautiful fall scenery and somewhat challenging trails would make it very much worth the trip. Steve took the kids to the playground area and I headed over a bridge into the dark, damp beauty of the forest.

The playground sounds faded away, replaced by the sacred stilness of the woods. I heard only the sound of leaves and dirt crushed underneath me. It was magical, almost as if I had stepped into another world once I crossed the bridge.

I stopped a moment to close my eyes and inhale the crisp scent of autumn. Cinnamon and pumpkin are lovely smells, but nothing compares to the earthiness of decaying leaves. 

Fall is my favourite time of year. I feel renewed when autumn finally arrives, and all of my senses are flooded with signs of the change of season.

After taking a few minutes to appreciate the scents that surrounded me I continued down the path, spotting an occasional mushroom.

I hiked over a small stone bridge and climbed steep hills until I finally saw what I was looking for: fallen trees and a stump, with an impressive amount of fungi! There were many tiny mushrooms, but the sheer amount of them was incredible to me. I also found various other cool mushrooms, my most favourites being two small ones with a violet tinge, and pure black mushrooms. I had never seen black fungus in person before. I believe they are dead man's fingers, Xylaria polymorpha. 


Petrifying Springs is a gorgeous place year round! If you're in the area I highly suggest visiting that park. Next up, I'll post about Illinois Beach, then Somme Woods. October isn't quite over, so I may go mushroom hunting at a few more places! Stay tuned.