English English French French Spanish Spanish

Animals and plants and when a girl needs her mum

There is a diversity of wildlife, insects, plants and yes, working animals in EL Maestrat.  My first photo was of a horse and then a stick insect. Further apart you could not get.   When the horse batted its lovely eyelashes at me I could not resist it.The stick insect, well, just get a look at its face as it climbed up my newspaper! This is a species where the female eats the male after sex. No one could tell me whether my one was a boy or a girl.

After the horse and the stick insect, I got hooked and here are some of the photos I have been taking during 2011.   I have had a problem for sure, namely that I am no flora or mushroom expert.  But I know someone who is.  My mum.  So yesterday I emailed her my mystery photos and asked for identifications other than “mushroom” or “yellow flower”.  Urgent, I said, for I did not want to look ignorant and had a long overdue post to get out.  Her response has been  trickling by email today. So here goes:

Photo 2 – hand holding mushroom:

Your mushroom appears to be Agaricus campester, and is the common mushroom sold in the shops.  There are a number of other Agaricus that look almost like this, such as A.arvensis, a bit more slender, but both are delicious. Some have brown instead of white caps. These days those are  also sold widely.  Some Parisian mycologists insist upon calling Agaricus campester, A. hortensis, presumably  because they were the first to grow them commercially, a kind of chauvnism I see it as, because everywhere else it is known as Agaricus campester. Agaricus is distinguished by its pink gills, turning marroon and then black.. Don’t eat them when they are black, even then not poisonous but not so tasty.  One kind, Agaricus xanthoderma, tastes disgusting and causes tummy upsets.  It smells strongly of iodine, and turns yellow when cut.  I have never seen it, and consider it unlikely that you will come across it.  Where did you get this one, and why the hurry?  When you were very small, you joined us in mushroom hunting, and getting nine pounds of Agaricus off a gulf course was no exception.  I fried them in butter and then froze them, because no one eats 9 pounds of mushrooms at one sitting, not even 6 people together.

Photo 8 – mushroom on forest floor:

From shape and proportions of this mushroom I would say it is a Lactarius, most likely Lactarius vallereus.  There are a great many species, but this is the only one that is squat.  Take your nail and cut across the gill; if milky juice comes out it is a Lactarius. The funnel-shaped cap and the curled over edge thereof are typical.  However, they have mostly white gills, some yellow, but none brown.  So this must be an old specimen which has turned darker on the gills.  Past its prime it ;may also have dried up its milk.  Still,no other mushrooms have this shape.  A few are edible, none dangerously poisonous; most are sharply pungent. Most texts don’t even mention their edibility, but apparently Lacterius volemus, a yellow one, can be fried.  It smells strongly of fish.

Again, Agaricus has pink gills and spores (leave the cap on a piece of white paper), it has a ring or skirt around the stem and no cup around the foot. NEVER eat a mushroom with white gills, a ring, and a cup around the foot. It will be an Amanita and nearly always deadly.

Photo 7 – what looks like a lovely green tree but I thought not:

You are right.  It is definitely not a tree.  It is is the genus of Agave. a succulent of dry regions.  This one should have a rosette of spiny blue-green leaves about 30cm long.  This rosette does not appear in the picture and is probably covered by the surrounding scrub.  Is this in Spain? If it is, this plant is not native there, but has been naturalized.  There are 200 species.  Some are used as houseplants, and some as garden plants in dry southern regions.  I think this one is  probably Agave parryi, native to Arizona, where I in fact photographed it by a hotel, but also saw it in the wild. It looks exactly like your picture.  I was told by botanists of that area that it blooms only once every 30 years. To produce a stalk of that length takes an awful lot of energy. Books of the region confirmed the same. If you have seen it every year, you must have been looking at different plants. All the 200 species are native to the New World.  It is not uncommon for a plant not to flower often. There is a Yucca which flowers every 100 years, the century plant.  There were thousands blooming of the genus Fraseri in Colorado which blooms once every ten years, and then all together; we were so lucky to see that. The top of the rainforest in Malaysia, indeed in all of Asia, is dominated by the family Dipterocaceae (3-5 genera).  These giant trees take 60 years to produce their first flowers, and thereafter every 3 to 13 years, so that you are never sure as to when you can see them  They produce the most beautiful and durable hardwoods in the world, and it is a great temptation to cut them before they can reproduce. Nurseries have succeeded in propagating only 8 of the 500 species. A rainforest without its top canapy ceases to behave as a rainforest and control the rainfall of that area.

And re the other plants:

As to your flowers,I cannot help you there.  They are both members of the family  Compositae, now often called Fabiaceae. The first one seems to consist of seeds on a disc,the second of petals on a disc. Growing on a disc is what characterises that family.  However, there are endless thousands of daisy -like plants in Europe, let alone the world.  Again, where did you find them,?  What month?  And I can’t decipher the leaves.  Those things are necessary to key them in a wildflower book.  I have such books, but without more information I am not able to do it.

(so she can help me here and has and the yellow flower’s exact identity is narrowing down).

Hope nevertheless to have been some help.  It is still a mystery to me what for.  Anyway, Happy New Year!

Love, Mummy

And I say the same to everyone and especially to my mum who will be 85 this year and still travels all over the world in wonderment of trees!

xxx for 2012 – may it be a better year world-wide than 2011

Animals and Plants
Life goes on much the same in the old way


  1. January 11, 2012

    This is awesome, your article is nicely written enjoyed reading it. I must tell you that mothers are everything you can think of, glad to have one, who loves you. WTG girl Happy New Year to you and yours Cheers!! 🙂

    • stephanie de leng
      January 11, 2012

      Thank you very much!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *