The Waterman and Hill-Traveller's Companion, a Natural Events Almanac
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Morel, Morchella esculenta
Photo © 2004 Jim Jung. All rights reserved

Mushrooms and the Moon

Writing a natural events almanac takes your research into some pretty interesting areas. Until recently I was unaware that the Moon is supposed to play a very large role in mushroom "flushes" (a period of time when large numbers of mushrooms appear all at once). According to those in the know you'll find more mushrooms during the full moon than at any other time. I'm not doubting this assertion since heart attacks, babies and murders show an increase in numbers apparently in response to a full moon. In fact I'd be very surprised if they didn't respond in some way to lunar influences since every other organism on earth does; it's just that I haven't had a chance to test it out yet in practice.

The ancients considered Mushrooms to be under the dominion of the Moon and above all other growing things on earth to be most influenced by it. Of course the ancients also believed in the Doctrine of Signatures, the Spontaneous Generation of Flies from Filth, and Human Slavery so granted, the ancients got more wrong than right about all manner of things, but in matters of growing things, and particularly food, my research has consistently shown that they were right on the money.

According to those with astrological leanings Mushrooms are strongly influenced by Cancer a water sign not surprisingly and governed in part by the planets Saturn, Neptune and Pluto (these last two assertions are somewhat suspect in my opinion since Neptune was only discovered in the 18th century and Pluto in the 20th). Still such information, while apparently useless in the real world, is interesting to know.

While mushrooms are no doubt influenced by the Moon I'm willing to bet that individual species respond in different ways some flushing at the Full Moon others at the New and some contrarian species appearing in favored Quarters. A quick perusal of my notes and an Almanac hasn't revealed any particular pattern ... yet. But I'll keep looking.

While the Moon and Mushrooms share certain similarities (both are mysterious, both have a sinister side and both are still poorly understood) I'm still not convinced that one can lump all edible fungi under the lunar heading "mushroom" or treat them as a monolithic block. Since closely related species of animals respond in very different ways to the same lunar influence I'm sure mushrooms should follow a similar pattern.

So Gentle Readers should any of you be able to throw more light on this subject please respond with an e-mail. And while you're out hunting your favorite fleshy fungal fructifications this year keep an eye on the Moon. I'll be doing the same and will report back with any findings in web dispatches.

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