In Praise Of Wood Frogs

Greetings,

In my neck of the woods, signs of spring abound — from the blooming of Snow Trillium and Sharp-Lobed Hepatica, to the reappearance of the Eastern Phoebe and warmer days.

Among the indications that winter has predictably expired and tipped its hat to another growing season is the emergence of the wood frog.

The wood frog is one of nature’s most resilient and adaptable creatures, occupying a range that — at the species level — spans thousands of miles of varied habitats.  Perhaps most interesting of all is that this hardy frog has the amazing ability to freeze solid when temperatures plummet… and survive the experience!

The wood frog has been patronizing the local pools lately, allowing itself to be observed and filmed by anyone with any interest in these sorts of things.

As it turns out, I do have a deep interest in these sorts of things, and I recently visited a nearby floodplain to document and film the seasonal manners of this libidinous amphibian.

If you are interested in learning more about the wood frog — and also about vernal pools, cryoprotectants, and holistic approaches to conservation — check out the brand new video!

 

Have you ever seen something that looks like this?  Though it resembles a pinecone, this structure is not produced by any conifer tree.  Instead, this pyramidal growth is produced in response to an insect that feeds on a particular flowering shrub.  Check out this recent Instagram post to learn more!

 

Thanks for reading and watching… and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

Early Season Scouting For Morel Mushrooms

Greetings!

Few sights are more enticing to the spring mushroom hunter than a morel mushroom.

So beloved is this iconic fungus that annual festivals are held in its honor, earrings are crafted in its image, and two babies per one million born are given its name.

Morels, more so than any other fungus, and for reasons both known and unknown, have come to epitomize spring mushroom hunting.

In anticipation of the long-awaited morel mushroom season, I thought I would head to the woods early to scout out potential hot-spots.  While doing so, I decided to document the experience and discuss some of the conditions I’ll be looking for in a few weeks.

If you are interested in tagging along with me as I explore several different habitats for these highly prized — yet oftentimes elusive — fungi, check out the brand new video!

 

 

I was a recent guest on the Publicly Challenged podcast hosted by Lucas Oswald.  In this conversation, we discuss foraging for mushrooms, hunting for meat, the value of older mentors, what’s going on behind the camera, and much more.  Here are a few ways to listen:

Thanks for reading and watching… and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

Saving Trees with Tree-Eating Mushrooms (new video!)

Greetings!

If you could imagine for one moment a mushroom-less world, you’d probably agree that this fantasy land would certainly not resemble the one we inhabit today.

In almost every ecosystem, fungi thrive and engage in countless roles indispensable to the health of every resident organism.

Perplexingly, many fungi also have the ability to shift roles in an ecosystem and instead undermine the health of resident organisms, ultimately contributing to their demise.

One model group of fungi with the ability to perform multiple (and seemingly contradictory) roles in forests is the Armillaria genus of fungi.

Armillaria fungi produce honey mushrooms, and while mycophagists celebrate the appearance of these early autumn treasures, honey mushrooms spell trouble for many foresters and homeowners.

As it turns out, mycelia of honey mushrooms can infect living trees and eventually destroy their roots and lower trunks.  This disease is known as “Armillaria root rot” and it occurs throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the world.

I recently received a great question from an arborist who was interested in combatting Armillaria infection particularly by using other fungi as a means of control.

Interestingly, there are numerous studies on the ability of mushrooms to treat and prevent Armillaria infection, and this fascinating topic is one that I explore thoroughly in the following video.

If you are interested in learning how tree-eating mushrooms can paradoxically save trees infected with fungi, check out the brand new video!

 

 

Speaking of trees, the time in which we can analyze and appreciate their winter buds is slowly dwindling.  Pictured here are four different broad-leaved species.  Do you recognize any of them?  Check out this recent Instagram post to learn more!

Thanks for reading and watching… and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

Mushrooms, Mexico, & Molecular Mycology (new video!)

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

Upon discovering these words from Ben Franklin years ago, I quickly realized the extraordinary value of investing in one’s education.  A casual look at my bookshelves, notebooks, and study habits over the years easily confirms this.

What does all of this have to do with nature?

Almost everything.

As a way of learning nature skills, I am a big proponent of investing in quality education.  While I believe that books and websites are excellent learning tools, I feel that in-person training from exceptional educators is an often overlooked yet essential strategy for acquiring information.

This is why I am a huge fan of attending educational events, and why I recently drove to central Pennsylvania to study with a visiting mycologist from Oakland, California.

This mycologist, whose name is Alan Rockefeller, is an expert on the topic of DNA sequencing and he travels all over North America studying and teaching classes on mushrooms.

I acquired an incredible amount of value during Alan Rockefeller’s event and decided to document the experience.  If you are interested in learning more about Alan’s work, and especially about the motives behind one man’s devotion to kingdom Fungi, check out the brand new video!

 

 

A recent trip to a living American chestnut tree brought me directly to two late winter mushroom species.  While snapping a few photographs, I could not help but think that — as paradoxical as it sounds — without fungi, perhaps the lone, living American chestnut tree would not exist at all.  You can read more about these thoughts (and two mushrooms) on Instagram.

 

Thanks for reading and watching… and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

Attack Of The Invasive Asian Beauty Fungus (new video + Q&A opportunity)

Greetings!

Over the past few years, I’ve received countless emails and messages with lots of great questions pertaining not only to plants, mushrooms, and trees… but also to my background, study habits, and thoughts on a particular subject.

As a way of making this information available to more people, I thought I’d film a video dedicated solely to answering your questions.

If you have a particular question that you’d like me to answer, simply reply to this email and let me know.  I can’t promise that I’ll be able to answer every question, though I’ll do my best to address as many as I can!

Again — all you have to do is hit “reply” to this email to ask your question.  The Q&A video will be filmed sometime in February.

Moving forward, let’s discuss a lesser-known subject within the discipline of invasion ecology.

Fungi.

When fungi are mentioned in the context of invasion ecology, we usually read about the effects of invasive plants and animals on native fungi.

But what about fungi as invaders?  Are there such things as invasive mushrooms?

According to most ecologists, the answer is a resounding “yes.”  Fungi certainly have the ability to leave their native dwellings and establish themselves in new ecosystems… oftentimes, and not surprisingly, with the help of humans.

One such fungus with the perceived ability to travel the world is the Asian Beauty.  Native to Asia, this fungus was first documented in North America only 10 years ago.

Could this fungus be an invasive species?  Or have we simply been overlooking its presence on the North American continent for centuries?

That’s the topic of this week’s brand new video, so if you’re interested in learning more about the wayfaring fungus known as the Asian Beauty  — and about the broader topic of invasive mushrooms — check it out!

 

Winter is a great time to observe common plants wearing new outfits.  Tall Thimbleweed is one such species whose winter plants scarcely resemble their summer counterparts, though many people would agree that Tall Thimbleweed is most attractive during the coldest months of the year.  Have you seen Tall Thimbleweed lately?  Check out this Instagram post to learn more!

Thanks for reading and watching, and if you have a question that you’d like me to answer on video, hit reply and let me know!

-Adam Haritan

Mushroom Colors & The Surprising Stories They Tell (new video!)

Anyone who has ever walked through the forest knows how colorful mushrooms can be.

Red, purple, blue, green, yellow, black, white… it seems that just about every color is represented in the fungal kingdom.

But have you ever asked yourself “Why?”

Why are mushrooms so colorful?  What’s the reasoning behind coloration within the fungal kingdom?  Why are some mushrooms highly pigmented while others are seemingly drab?

Fortunately, a new study has given us some answers based on trends spanning 40 years and over 3 million observations of mushrooms.

Needless to say, the results of this study are quite fascinating!

If you’re interested in hearing some surprising stories that the colors of mushrooms can tell, check out the brand new video!

 

I was a recent guest on the Awake Aware Alive⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ Podcast hosted by Jacob Gossel.  In this interview, we discuss foraging for food, nature connection, my thoughts on hunting, and lots more!

 

Lastly (and this may pertain more to PA folks, though anyone can certainly help!), you can support a fantastic organization in Pennsylvania by voting for Pennsylvania’s River Of The Year and selecting “Buffalo Creek.”  This waterway is stewarded in part by the Audubon Society Of Western Pennsylvania and is designated an Important Bird Area due to species of concern that inhabit the area.  If Buffalo Creek receives the most votes, the Audubon Society will be awarded a grant to expand their conservation impact in this high-quality watershed.  To show your support, click this link and select “Buffalo Creek.”  It only takes a few seconds!

Thanks for reading and watching (and casting a vote if you did!), and as always, thank you for your continued support.

-Adam Haritan

Do Plants Scream When Stressed? A Brand New Study Has Some Answers

Noises associated with plants aren’t unfamiliar to those of us who spend time with plants.  We hear plants in the wind, in the rain, and even when fruit capsules explode to release seeds.

Generally, plant noises are considered to be the by-products of mechanical processes, rather than the ways in which plants intentionally communicate with other organisms.

In fact, it almost seems too esoteric to suggest that plants communicate using sounds, yet new research offers insights into the unique ways in which plants may do just that.

Interestingly, many news outlets have picked up on this story and are now reporting on the ability of plants to “scream” in stressful situations.  These situations include drought-like conditions and the physical cutting of stems.

But is that what plants are really doing?  “Screaming” when cut or deprived of water?

That’s the topic of this week’s video, so if you’re unfamiliar with the ability of plants to emit informative airborne sounds in stressful situations, check it out!

Mushrooms utilize all kinds of organic material for sustenance… including the stems and leaves of moss.  If you’re unfamiliar with this particular moss-loving fungus, check out the recent Instagram post!

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your continued support.

-Adam Haritan

Two More Reasons To Add Mushrooms To Your Holiday Menus

Greetings!

If you’re looking for reasons to eat more mushrooms, read on.

Two new relevant studies were published in the scientific literature this past year, each one highlighting the importance of mushrooms in the human diet.

1. Mushroom consumption and mild cognitive impairment

As part of a recent study design, and to determine any association between mushroom consumption and mild cognitive impairment, researchers in Singapore analyzed diet and lifestyle factors of 663 participants over the age of 60.

After controlling for factors including age, education, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activities, meat consumption, and vegetable consumption, participants who consumed greater than 2 portions of mushrooms per week had lower odds of having mild cognitive impairment compared to participants who consumed mushrooms less than once per week.

Findings were similar in males and females, and results were published in the Journal Of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Researchers concluded:  “Mushroom  consumption could be a potential preventive measure to slow cognitive decline and neurodegeneration in aging.”

 2. Mushroom consumption and prostate cancer

A brand new study published in the International Journal Of Cancer looked at the association between mushroom consumption and prostate cancer in over 36,000 Japanese men between the ages of 40 and 79.

This was the first long-term cohort study ever published on the subject.  (A cohort study follows participants over time to determine the incidence of, or mortality from, a disease or other outcome.)

Results indicated that higher mushroom consumption in men over the age of 50 was related to a lower risk of incident prostate cancer.  Additionally, researchers found a beneficial effect of mushroom consumption on the prevention of prostate cancer regardless of clinical stage of tumor development (localized or advanced and metastatic).

Researchers in this study concluded that “habitual mushroom intake might help to reduce prostate cancer risk.”

So… if you needed yet another reason to eat more mushrooms, perhaps these two studies will influence your decision in a positive manner.

Lastly, today (Sunday) is the last day to enroll in Foraging Wild Mushrooms, as registration will close at midnight.  This online course is designed to teach you the skills necessary to safely and confidently harvest wild fungi for food, for medicine, for study, and for fun.

Additionally, a portion of all proceeds derived from course sales will be donated to the Pennsylvania Parks & Forest Foundation — a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to inspire stewardship of Pennsylvania’s beautiful state parks and forests.

You can learn more about the course here.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll consider adding more mushrooms to your holiday menus!

-Adam Haritan

Foraging Wild Mushrooms — Online Course Registration Open For Limited Time

Greetings!

In anticipation of the winter mushroom season, and at the request of those eager to pursue educational opportunities during the winter months, I decided to open the doors to Foraging Wild Mushrooms for the next 5 days.

This 4-season online course is designed to help you safely, successfully, and confidently forage wild mushrooms from the forest, from the field, and even from your own backyard!

Whether you’re interested in foraging for food, for medicine, for study, or just for fun, Foraging Wild Mushrooms covers the most important lessons to get you started.

In addition to over 70 step-by-step exclusive and instructional videos included within the course, you’ll also receive:

  • Supplemental handouts covering mushroom anatomy, terminology, and biology that you can download and print for easy viewing.
  • A 42-page guide to medicinal mushrooms that summarizes the latest research on the most popular medicinal fungi and features over 75 peer-reviewed references.
  • Immediate and lifetime access to all materials.

Additionally, I’m equally (if not more) excited to let you know that a portion of all proceeds derived from course sales will be donated to the Pennsylvania Parks & Forest Foundation — a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to inspire stewardship of Pennsylvania’s beautiful state parks and forests.

As you may or may not know, a good bit of Learn Your Land’s educational programming is filmed on-site within many of Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests.  To express gratitude, and to ensure that these wild places exist for generations to come, I find it imperative to support organizations that in turn directly support the forests.

Therefore, a portion of all proceeds derived from this enrollment period will be donated to the Pennsylvania Parks & Forest Foundation.

Please note that enrollment for Foraging Wild Mushrooms is open for 5 days only — from today until Sunday, December 15th at midnight.  After that, enrollment will be closed.

To learn more about the course, check out this video which gives an overview of what you can expect.

I hope to see you in there!
—Adam Haritan

The Curious Lives Of Carnivorous Mushrooms (New Video!)

 

Greetings!

Before I share this week’s brand new video with you, I’d like to mention that I’ll be sending out another email tomorrow — Wednesday, December 11th — with a special announcement inside.

If you’re interested in reading more about the announcement, be sure to check your inbox tomorrow!

Moving forward, let’s discuss something that sounds a bit more like science fiction than fact.

Carnivorous mushrooms.

Many people are unaware that fungi have the ability to capture and consume living members of the animal kingdom.  Interestingly, researchers have been studying the topic of carnivorous fungi for over a century.

More than just a quirk of nature, carnivorous fungi represent hundreds of species that commonly inhabit woods, forests, and fields.  They’re so common that, if you’re a fan of wild edible mushrooms, there’s a good chance you’ve eaten a carnivorous species on at least one occasion.

As is my habit, I decided to film a video in celebration of these accomplished hunters and trappers.

If you’re interested in learning more, check it out!

 

While recently spending some time in sunny San Diego, I had the unique opportunity to visit what is considered to be the rarest pine tree in the United States.  To learn more about this 5-needled, cliff-dwelling species, check out the recent Instagram post!

Thanks for reading and watching, and remember… be sure to check your inbox tomorrow for the special announcement!

-Adam Haritan