The Pholiota squarrosa
mushroom, commonly known as the Shaggy Pholiota,
is but one of many striking mushroom photos
that comprise the Kingdom of Fungi Index created
and maintained by photography and mushroom enthusiast
This particular species appears
at the base of old trees, and on logs or stumps.
It smells and tastes like a radish and, although
not deadly, it is considered mildly toxic.
Taylor created the Kingdom
of Fungi Index as a service to amateur and professional
mushroom hunters, or "mycologists,"
who are interested in mushrooms for aesthetic
or scientific reasons. The site is searchable
by both Latin and common names for each species,
as well as location, color and whether they
are deadly or not.
Many mushroom species are symbiotic
with trees, helping them absorb nutrients and
minerals. Trees return the favor and provide
sugars to the fungal mycelium in the ground.
"It's a symbiotic relationship that many
people are not aware of," Lockwood says.
"Mushrooms also recycle organic matter
to make it usable by plants, animals and other
Lockwood's career of photographing
mushrooms has provided him with a lot of human
connectivity as well. "I have traveled
the world exhibiting my photos and educating
people about mushrooms, and they in turn have
shared their enthusiasm and knowledge with me."
Mycology, the study of mushroom
and other fungi, is rapidly expanding with new
information. All the major antibiotics that
exist today were originally extracted from fungi
and scientists are finding new immune system
enhancing and anti-cancer properties in fungi
all the time, Lockwood notes. "Shitake
mushrooms used in gourmet cooking are not just
tasty; they are also very good for us."
The Kingdom of Fungi Index
benefits more than mycologists. "Toddlers
and pets frequently ingest mushrooms,"
Lockwood said. The site assists parents, pet
owners, doctors and veterinarians in identifying
potentially harmful mushrooms.
- Diane Banegas, NSF