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Issue 16

April/May 2022

Greetings Enchanted Nature Community

Welcome To The Enchanted Nature Newsletter

There Is A Season

Here in the Shenandoah Valley we had all four seasons compacted into one week of April! We went from accumulating snow on the ground to temperatures a few degrees less than 90ºf! This all happened within 7 days. 

We have also had tornadoes, hail, and gale force winds.

Thankfully, most of the fruit blossoms didn't frost.  Like humans, plants love the early season warm weather and want to move into their springtime regalia. We humans are very grateful for our climate controlled homes and love early spring weather but we should always take great concern when such sweeping temperature swings happen. 

When plants like fruit trees blossom early, there is always 

a risk that a last minute frost could ruin the crop.

One other concern beyond our human need for food and aesthetic enjoyment is that pollinators rely on the spring nectar that flowers/blossoms provide to survive for the rest of the season. Honey Bees are gathering nectar and already preparing for next winter before this one has diminished into nothing but a memory.

Soil temperatures are up, indicator plants are blooming, and 

Morel mushroom hunters have been hitting the forest. 

As we compose this newsletter, heavy rains are moving through the area. 

Area mushroom hunters will most likely be calling in sick to work this week...

To all of our Enchanted Nature readers, please be safe out there. Warm afternoons can turn into hypothermic conditions very quickly and sometimes unexpectedly. Please let someone reliable know when/where you're going 

and when you expect to return

Remember to stop every now and again to enjoy the natural beauty around you.

Maybe even take a photo to share with your fellow readers.


This is a great time to revisit some Morel finding test pics submitted by our good friend and photographic contributor Jack Wilson. Thank you Jack!

Look hard! Can you find the Morel?

There are actually two Morels in this picture.

Thank you again for sharing your photography and mushroom hunting skills with us Jack!

Aimé Vacher of Massachusetts submitted this pic of (what we believe to be) Mica Caps a.k.a. Coprinus micaceus. Thank you for the great pic Aimé.

Mica Cap, Coprinus micaceus

Some readers have asked how it is that we are able to identify mushrooms. There are many clues that a mycologist uses. The first (and most obvious) is how it looks. What shape, color, and growth habit does it have. We also consider what season it is.  Mica caps occur in the springtime and grow around decaying wood. You can see the tree stump in the picture and other food sources like wood chips, twigs, and debris. 

This fungus is doing what it was born to do in the ecosystem! It is turning dead, unusable biomass into life giving soil, so that new life can emerge. 

Wine Caps, Garden Giant
Wine Cap, King Stropharia

I had the good fortune of spending some time with Jack Wilson this week and he pointed out these Wine Cap Mushrooms (Stropharia rugoso-annulata) growing out of some wood shavings. This mushroom is also commonly called "The Garden Giant" and "The Godzilla Mushroom" because they can grow quite large.

Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain lists out the benefits Wine Caps provide to your garden:

  • Garden giants break down hardwood chips, and other substrates. By doing this, they enrich and build a rich layer of soil to nurture plants in the garden.
  • They attract earth worms. Earth worms love the smell of the sweet king stropharia mycelium. They will help aerating the soil in that area and deposit worm castings, which are great for your plants.
  • The mycelium will help reduce the damage caused to the root system, when the area is infested with nematodes. Mycelium will capture and destroy the nematodes.

Don Depoy of Virginia submitted this pic of what we believe to be Spring Fieldcap Mushrooms (Agrocybe praecox). Spring Fieldcap fungus is another decomposer and is working hard to turn these wood chips into soil. Thank you for sharing the great pic Don!

We want to thank all of our readers again for sharing their photos!

Please continue sending us your pics and queries:   

You can also text your pics & questions to (540) 324-8778.

Pics from the Writers

We were lucky enough to find this Blonde Morel (Morchella americana).

Dame's Rocket

The Dame's Rocket is putting on a springtime show. Dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis) is a Eurasian biennial belonging to the mustard family. It was introduced to North America in the 1600’s and usually occurs in moist, wooded areas. It can also invade open areas. It is considered an invasive but we have not found it to be. 

The Forest Knows You

by Christopher Vacher

Because they do not move like we do, communicate like we do, or look like we do, plants and fungi are often considered to be raw materials for human use and consumption. We stomp on them, cut them down, eat them, destroy or pollute their home, and without any regard, many people hold them in a lower standing than the animal kingdom. 

If you attend one of our Enchanted Nature Tours, we spend some time discussing the sentient nature of all living things. This is no longer some, "hoodoo voodoo" idea practiced by pagan religious adherents. Science is now supporting what many people have known for eons. These fellow Earthly life forms are living, breathing, sentient beings. They feel pain, they communicate, they know and remember you, and they are aware when you are near them. They see without eyes, they hear without ears, and they smell without noses.

Plants and fungi also team up to share...yes, SHARE...nutritional resources with one another. Nature is not a greedy, adversarial template where only, "the strong survive". It is a cooperative living organism that is constantly experiencing death and rebirth. Not only that, humans are a part of this larger organism. We are each like one cell or one organ of a much larger organism.

In 2016, Suzanne Simard of British Columbia published her discoveries that trees not only know each other but share information and food. The forest itself is a an organism composed of many different life forms (organ-isms) that rely on each other to survive as a whole. Humans have a lot to learn from this.

Recently, The Royal Society Open Science journal published a paper stating that mushrooms actually communicate with one and other using a vocabulary of possibly 50 "words". “[We] found that the ‘fungal language’ exceeds the European languages in morphological complexity,” the study states. It was conducted by computer science professor Andrew Adamatzky at University of West England Bristol.

Mr. Adamatzky studied this by inserting tiny electrodes into soil colonized by fungal mycelium. He studied four varieties of fungus and  found that Split gills (Schizophyllum communea species that resides in rotting wood — generated the most complex “sentences” of the four fungi. 

While researchers can agree that the patterns are not random, more study will be needed before "mushroomish" will become an official language on Google Translate.

In another experiment studying the effect of language on plants, Ikea, the put it together yourself furniture retailer, had students record statements and played them back at plants. Ikea evidently wanted to demonstrate how harmful bullying can be by staging the live test at schools across the United Arab Emirates.

Audio messages were recorded and then played on loops for 30 days. Half the plants were taunted with insults while the others were played compliments. All the plants were given the exact same amount of sunlight and water.

In the video below, one message says: “You look rotten.” Another says: “Are you even alive?”

The compliments included, “I like you the way you are,” and “You’re making a difference in the world.”

The plants which got played the negative comments withered after 30 days while the ones played compliments remained healthy.

One pupil said: “As the weeks passed, I started noticing that the one was being bullied started to droop.”

Thomas Nelson, teacher and head of house at GEMS Wellington Academy in Dubai, a school that participated in the initiative, said: “It has raised the profile massively of different forms of bullying and the effects that bullying can have on people.”

Alana Schetzer of the University of Melbourne wrote online: “Plants may not have eyes, ears or a tongue, but their skin can perform many of the same functions… [They] can respond accordingly.”

You can see the video/advertisement below:

Please be kind to everyone and to nature.

Enchanted Nature News

Enchanted Nature Tours inc. is planning our next mushroom class. We will cover wild edible identification, toxic mushroom identification, cultivation, medicinal mushrooms, and cooking. If you are interested on being notified when we schedule the next class, please  contact us.

For a brief fungi primer, consider attending our presentation at the Churchville LIbrary on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 from 6 to 7 pm. The Churchville Branch is located at: 3714 Churchville Ave. Churchville, VA 24421

Give the gift of nature! We now offer gift certificates. They can be customized and emailed for any occasion. The gift certificates are available at our Trading Post


You're invited to enjoy an afternoon with us and we're sure that "Our Local Friends" would love to meet you too. These are small local businesses that we support and feel confident recommending. Keep an eye on the page, as we expect the list to grow.


is this month's video theme

Enjoying nature can happen anywhere and putting up a bird house is a simple way to bring the wilds closer to home. Enjoy this video of Nuthatches nesting. If you would like to learn more about the White Breasted Nuthatch, check out our article.



There are many proven health benefits to spending time in nature. It has also been proven that just looking at images of nature can provide multiple health benefits including: reducing depression, speeding healing, improving your immune system, preventing dementia, improving your mood, and increasing happiness. We end each newsletter with a short video of a natural scene. 

Hopefully the videos will provide you with some of the benefits listed above.

Findings reported in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, suggest that keeping a few snapshots of greenery around yourself might be beneficial. When participants viewed the natural images in the experiment, their stress levels lowered, thanks to the activation of their parasympathetic nervous system – which controls certain rest functions. "Viewing green scenes may thus be particularly effective in supporting relaxation and recovery after experiencing a stressful period and thereby could serve as an opportunity for micro-restorative experiences and a promising tool in preventing chronic stress and stress-related diseases." 

Please be sure to share this newsletter with your friends. 

Word of mouth is the best advertising.

Stay safe and enjoy nature

If you haven't taken the time to explore our website, please do.

There are a lot of free educational resources to enjoy

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