The story of the Mural:
It was a dream to paint a mural on the side of this white cement building to add something fun and whim sickle to the NY-28 corridor. The original idea was to have the Catskill Witch stitching clouds from spider webs from the highest mountain in the Catskills, as in the Catskill lore, and from under the rain clouds there would be mushrooms growing. In the end, we decided to go represent the Funga (aka the diversity of fungi in a given environment) as they are found growing with common flora and fauna of the Catskills.
From left to right the mural fades from winter to spring to summer to fall and depicts different mushrooms that are common in the Catskill mountains which fruit during those seasons. In the winter you can seethe black Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) growing as a parasitic sclerotia commonly found on birch trees. Under it is an "Orange Jelly Fungus" which could be Dacrymyces chrysospermus if it was found on a coniferous tree or it could be "Witches Butter" Tramella mesenterica if it is found on a deciduous tree. Both of these are edible when cooked and are quite good in soups. The beloved "Turkey Tail" (Trametes versicolor) grows large on the stump in the winter though it can be found throughout the year. It's many layered bands remind me of the many different medicinal properties it carries. The shelf mushrooms aka "polypores" (poly=many, pores=spore bearing surface) grow off the the side of standing trees. They are modeled after two common mushrooms we find in the Catskills, Birch Polypore (Fomitopsis betulina) and the Tinder Polypore (Fomes fomentarius) historically used for wound dressing and fire starters respectively. You might find Oyster Mushrooms at the farmers market but they are represented in their original habitat growing out of a tree to the right of the stream. The stream was added later but needed to be represented as it is the life blood of these mountains and the fungi whose mushrooms are around 90% water. The Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is my favorite flower due to its residency and healthful properties. It is also a hat-tip to my main myco-mentor Gary Lincoff who also shared this plant as one of his favorites. There's an American Black Bear Ursus americanus peaking out around a tree covered in one of our first spring edible mushrooms "Pheasant's Back Mushroom" (Cerioporus squamosus). It grows in the spring around the same time as the prized Morel Mushrooms (Morchella esculenta) which occur under the luckiest apple trees in the Catskills around the time they are blossoming.
As spring gives way to summer and the dandelion heads let their seeds go, Chanterelles and Boletes burst forth in delicious delight. The Reishi/Ling Zhi/Mushroom of Immorality (Ganoderma tsugae) grow slowly on hemlock stumps bringing many medicinal compunds for people and the forest. White puffballs appear in the fall under this fruiting apple tree and below ground an insect larvae is being parasitized by a Cordyceps mushroom (Cordyceps militaris). This mushroom has been harvested and made into tea to improve energy and stamina. Our stout, orange mushroom with white milk coming from the yellow gills is a particularly important mushroom. "Peck's Milk Cap" Lactarius peckii which was originally described by NY native Gertrude Simmons Burlingham in 1908. She named this mushroom for Charles Horton Peck, New York State botanist for 48 years (1867-1915) who described over 2,700 species of fungi in North America. This mushroom is currently our proposed NY State Fungus.
In the fall it is too warm for icicles but these white cascading pom-poms in the tree are Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus) which occurs on beech trees is excellent for brain and nerve functioning and has a taste and texture reminiscent of crab. On the far right, in a big bouquet of brown is the prized Hen-of-the-Woods aka Maitake (Griflola frondosa) this delicous mushroom occurs which a wide variety of trees by primarily oaks. While it is known for its flavor and texture on the dinner plate it has modulatory abilities for blood sugar.
Around the side of the building is the well recognized Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria var. guesowii) You've run after this mushroom in super mario bros. You've sent it to your friends in the form of an imoji. Its stories span throughout human history from SOMA to Santa Claus. It can be poisonous or medicinal. You may think it should be red but our Catskill Mountain variety is orange.
If you want to learn more about these mushrooms please come learn with us at a mushroom event.
Visit the Mural at 8553 NY-28 Pine Hill, NY 12465
Click here to watch the time lapse of the painting of the Mural.
The story of the Building: