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Latvia's mushroom of the year finally picked

Take note – story published 1 year and 4 months ago

It has finally arrived: the fun fungus, the wonderful webcap, the mighty mycological moment: the mushroom of the year 2023 has been announced by the Latvian Mycological Society.

This year's award in the most typical-Latvian category of them all goes to the hen of the woods (Grifola frondosa), not to be confused with the chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)!

The hen of the woods, unlike real hens, tends to grow on oak trees and stay there for decades if not disturbed. "This mushroom is a symbol of our Society's 20th anniversary. It is large and great, consisting of numerous caps. It is a symbol to our group of enthusiasts having grown over the years, we are really quite many," said the Mycological Society's representative Diāna Meiere.

The hen of the woods is regarded very rare and included in Latvia's official Endangered Species List. Edible while young, has to be boiled first.

The fun-gi does not end there: this year, for the first time ever, two announcements have been made, one special for the slime mold type of mushrooms. The slime mold of the year (we are not making this up) is Stemonitis axifera, in Latvian bearing the name "Clustering chocolate slime mold" which does sound somewhat out of a witch's cauldron or a Harry Potter book. Despite the 'chocolate' bit, in case 'slime mold' does not deter you, it is reminded that this shroom is not edible.

If the name is not witchy enough, the Latvian Mycological Society hits you with another slimy fact: this shroom spends most of its life as a protozoan that moves around in search of food.  

When it has stopped running wild, it grows on deadwood (which has been selected as the habitat of the year 2023) so make sure to stop by those this year.

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