After what has seemed like an eternity, or rather that feeling of hopeless anticipation which sometimes follows what you think has been a failure, my king stropharia (Stropharia rugosoannulata) patch produced it’s first flush of mushrooms despite all odds. I was astonished that the colony actually survived considering the trials and tribulations that it has endured since when I wrote about growing these mushrooms in Growing King Stropharia: Part 1. If you are new to these incredibly adaptable, hardy and delicious fungi then I suggest you take a look at Part 1 before you continue reading on with this post, just so that you know what’s up.
After almost a year and a half without any sign of activity, the stropharias decided to fruit over the past few weeks (it’s now early October). Somewhat understandably, the mycelium failed to produce since being installed in May of last year after being obliterated from below by the heaving up of a tree who’s roots which lay directly underneath the patch and then being subsequently raked all over the surrounding garden by (partially) negligible foster parents in my absence. It’s nothing short of remarkable that the patch not only recuperated from these calamities but has also produced at least a dozen mushrooms.
I had read quite a bit about this species’ tolerance of disturbance and disastrous consequences of all sorts that would undoubtedly be the demise of many other mycelial colonies. It seems to me that king stropharia positively thrive off of man-made disturbances. It is believed that before we as a species began generating large amounts of loose, coarse woody materials (i.e. mulch or wood chips) and distributing it widely around our cultivated and manicured landscapes S. rugosoannulata was quite scarce in the wild.
This hypothesis seems logical to me as piles of evenly placed mulched wood were not something that took place prior to human invention. It’s possible that the odd fallen or excavated tree (perhaps by wood boring insects or woodpeckers) may have accumulated small amounts of what could be considered wood chips, but these occurrences are rather infrequent from what I have been able to see. What this all means really, is that the king stropharia and humanity are, for a time, entwined as we inhabit the same sorts of landscapes, feasting (quite literally) off of each other’s niches and natural specialties.
It’s a beautiful thing to ponder, and additionally engaging for those who want to take this ethmomycologial concept to the next level and explore the world of cultivating king stropharia mushrooms somewhere in your local environment. There is lots of information on how exactly you can accomplish this, not limited to this article on Temperate Climate Permaculture and this page on the Field & Forest Products website. I encourage you to investigate the possibilities and share them with others. Nothing better than growing food, building soil and strengthening your ties with the world around you.