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Issue 22

October 2022

Greetings Enchanted Nature Community

Welcome To The Enchanted Nature Newsletter

Leaf Time To Be Enchanted!

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious 

as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house."

-Nathaniel Hawthorne-

As images of pumpkins, corn, and apples appear, there is a often a feeling as though a season has ended. It feels as though something is "over". For vegetable and fruit farmers in seasonal regions, a growing season has ended. For the forest, autumn is just another beginning. While autumn is represented in literature as a closing, old age, and any other negative emotions, it is actually renewal. The leaves that are falling from deciduous trees are a gift, freely given from these stalwart and stoic beings to the forest. 

Remember that evergreens shed their leaves too. 

They just do it all throughout the year. 

Diminutive and microscopic life will take shelter beneath the leaves. 

Saprotrophic fungi will use the leaves for food. 

As the leaves decompose, they will supply nutrients to sustain life 

and provide a substrate for new life to begin. 

Autumn is about letting go freely and letting growth and rebirth happen.

We want to wish you all safe and enchanting adventures as we head into November.

Happy Halloween to those of you that celebrate it.


Thank you to all who sent their pics!

Oyster Mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus, mushroom hunting, wild mushrooms

Tammy  and Paul Miller of Churchville, VA submitted these pictures of scaly mushrooms. There are many varieties of scaly mushrooms and we're not able to make a positive identification on these without a few more clues. 

We discuss some of these clues in the article below. Mycologists use many details to identify mushrooms.

Notice the Turkey Tails sharing the same stump in the picture above.

MANY THANKS for sharing your find with us!

Mushroom Hunting, wild mushrooms

Mike Fox of Rockbridge County shared this photo of a mushroom that is still a mystery. 

Bumble, bee

It looks like it's from the Ganoderma genus. Others that we consulted agree. Looking at it growing from what appears to be gravel and sand, along the foundation of a building, and below a stone threw us for a loop though. After a little more correspondence with Mike, we figured out that it was definitely a polypore and most likely in the Ganoderma genus. This is evidence that there is a stump or root below the ground feeding this fungal fruit.

Patti Spahn shared this spectacular photo of a Carolina Wren serenading the forest.

WOW! Great pic Patti! Thank you for sharing with the Enchanted Nature community.

Bear's Head Tooth, Hericium americanus

MANY THANKS to all of you that make the newsletter better by sharing your pics!

Please send us your enchanting pics and any queries:   

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


Pollinators were seeking nourishment from some of the remaining 

Thistles in the meadow. 

What some people call weeds, pollinators call dinner.

This is a dried up Ganoderma tsugae. It is growing from an old Hemlock stump.

No...this is not some Halloween themed zombie mushroom. It is a declining Giant Puffball that is sending spores in all directions. We found it while on an adventure with our good friends and favorite mountain music duo, Me and Martha

We enjoyed some early foliage from the top of Great North Mountain.

They showed us a Civil War era, hand dug saltpeter mine. 

Saltpeter was mined to create gun powder.

It was a wonderful day. 

Good friends, good food, and being enchanted by nature 

are sustenance for the soul.

What Is It?

by Christopher Vacher

If you read the captions above, you found that mushroom identification is not as straightforward as one might think. While cleaning up some arboreal gifts (leaves) around the property yesterday, I discovered a few different varieties of mushrooms. One specific mushroom that caught my eye, at first glance, appeared to be a Blewit mushroom. I've not had the privilege of eating a Blewit and was initially quite excited. After looking at it for a moment, I picked it and studied it more closely.

One of the problems with mushrooms is that the colors can vary wildly 

depending on many variables. 

This mushroom had the right "look" for a Blewit. 

The season was correct, autumn. It had gills colored blue/purple. 

It was growing out of the soil not from a tree.

The biggest problem is that there are some lookalikes for the Blewit mushroom. One concerning and similar group of mushrooms is in the Cortinarius genus. There are some Cortinarius mushrooms that can be lethal to humans.  

There are also differences and clues that will help with identification. 

Cortinarius have a veil that forms under the cap to protect the reproductive surface and spores until, "just the right time". This veil will break and leave cobweb type residues on the gills and stem.

Cortinarius veil

The mushroom that I picked did not show any evidence of a veil. Great! 

Ready to eat this mushroom then...right? Nope!

Cortinarius and Blewits grow at the same time of year, look similar, 

and can grow side by side. 

Cortinarius has a glossy/slimy cap. 

The mushroom that I picked did not have a glossy cap. 

Ready to eat it now? Let's take another step.

I decided to take a spore print. 

This is a simple and fun process that is perfect to do with children 

that are old enough not to stick the mushroom, or any pieces of it, in their mouth.

For safety's sake, please keep your hands washed too. Touching mushrooms

has not been shown to be a problem, but ingesting them could prove

to be a mistake. Washing your hands will make sure that there's no chance

of eating even a small bit of a toxic mushroom.

All you need is a mushroom, a bit of aluminum foil, a cup/small bowl/glass, and a knife to remove the stem (if the mushroom has one).

First, cut off the stem. 

Next flip the cap onto the aluminum foil and cover it with the bowl, glass, or cup.

Let the mushroom set overnight. The next morning when you remove the bowl and the mushroom cap, you should find a beautiful pattern of spores.

Cortinarius spores are brown. This is definitely not a Cortinarius.

Blewit spores are light pink to white. 

Wait! What? Those spores are PURPLE!

So what is it?

We aren't sure yet. 

We now have many clues for an identification.

The fun is that we aren't ready to make that call.

The mystery lives on!

This is the magic of being a naturalist. 

No matter how much you learn, there will always be something in nature that you've never seen before...if you pay attention.

There is an old, worn out saying among mushroom enthusiasts. We say, "There are "old" mushroom hunters and there are "bold" mushroom hunters but there are no "old bold" mushroom hunters"

Continue to learn and let nature put a smile on your face. 

Every fungi has a purpose in the forest. It is not always to feed humans.

If you're interested in learning more about mushrooms,

consider attending our class on Friday, November 11th.

For more information:

Please be safe! 

Be kind to nature and one another.

Enchanted Nature News

Enchanted Nature Tours inc. is excited for our next mushroom class on November 11th. We will cover wild edible identification, toxic mushroom identification, cultivation, and many other subjects. If you are interested in attending, link to:

For those of you who can't get enough mushroom info, 

check out the weekly mushroom posting at:

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.

Let It Ride

is this month's video theme

Let It Ride

Sit back, breathe deep, and enjoy a ride 

on the iconic Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. 

Like deciduous trees shedding their leaves, 

let go of what you don't need and enjoy a new beginning.

Music: Whiskey Before Breakfast and Carrie Under The Arbor - Trapezoid - Skyline Records



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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