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Mushroom kits

Salt-Loving Mushrooms

Though winter salt’s effects on the city are numerous — de-iced sidewalks, salt-splotched cars, canines sporting booties or cradled in the protective arms of owners — less immediately obvious is the impact on the natural environment, including the fungi underfoot. One byproduct of road salt may be the surprise appearance of autumn Agaricus bernardii, a relative of the white button mushroom found in supermarkets, long after all the snow and ice of the previous winter has melted.

Last October, I found several curious Agaricus specimens, with pinkish-beige, heavily cracked caps that were as large as my outspread hand, growing along an inner road at my college campus on Staten Island. As the Agaricus genus includes many poisonous species, I collected several samples over the course of the month to show senior members of the New York Mycological Society.

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