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  • Latifat Apatira, MD MPH

With the rain…

After several years of drought here in Northern California, the rains of the past few months have been glorious. It’s incredible how the landscape changes with the addition of water-- the growth of new plants and grasses that glimmer almost iridescently green. It feels like fresh and youthful life has returned to the land.


While out and about on my hikes, I’ve notice another form of life popping up everywhere.

Fungi.

Diverse in color, shape, texture, and smell, the world of fungi has many interesting characters.



A fungus (plural: fungi) is a type of life-form that make up their own kingdom of living things. Although they don’t move and seem rooted in place like plants, they aren’t plants at all. Fungi do not create their own subsistence from light like plants do, but rather fungi break down and obtain their nutrients from organic material. They play the important role of ecological decomposers . That’s why they are frequently found on rotting logs or growing on the fruits left too long in the refrigerator.




Fungi have long been a part of human life. We use yeast to make breads, molds to produce cheeses and medicines like antibiotics, and mushrooms to flavor our pizza. Certain mushrooms have psychedelic properties and can caused altered states of mind, while others, if ingested can be lethal.


There are estimated to be about 120,000 fungi species worldwide. I don’t recommend anyone eating mushrooms collected in the wild, but they can definitely be a feast for the eyes. So, next time you’re out and about in nature, especially after a rain shower, keep a look out for fungi!






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