Generous rain totals create boom year for mushrooms

An expert says "this is the year where every mushroom is going to be doing something" -- we all have this year's abundance of rain to thank for it.

WASHINGTON — All this year’s rain has been great for mushrooms. Even mushrooms that don’t make regular appearances are putting on displays.

“There are certain mushrooms that may not come out of their root systems for years. But this is the year where every mushroom is going to be doing something,” associate Director for Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources Forest Service, Anne B. Hairston-Strang said.

“It’s an amazing year for mushrooms,” she exclaimed. “But don’t eat them unless you really know what you’re doing.”

Yearly rain totals as of midday Monday were 19.7 inches above normal at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and 22.24 above normal at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI), the National Weather Service said.

“With today’s rainfall, we’ve already observed over an inch of rainfall at DCA — that’s going to bump us up to the sixth wettest year on record with still 56 days left in the year,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Brandon Fling said.

Official records that go back to 1871 for precipitation include the whole Washington area. “The observation point has moved a bit over the years, but our current records are taken from DCA,” Fling noted.

Back to the mushrooms — Hairston-Strang said just in her yard alone, she’s observed myriad varieties that are red, yellow and intricate and white.

“Some of them look odd and ugly, but others are interesting and charming and colorful,” she said.

Just be cautious if you think you know enough about wild mushrooms to try eating any of them.

After weather conditions prompted a bumper crop of mushrooms in Northern California in late 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were 21 mushroom poisonings within a four-week period.

Many of the patients required liver transplants.

An 18-month old who was accidentally poisoned by her mother who grilled wild mushrooms for dinner “underwent a liver transplant six days after ingestion of the mushroom with a complicated postoperative course that included cerebral edema and permanent neurologic impairment,” the CDC report said.

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