They magically pop up in your lawn resembling something from a child’s fairy tale book. You would expect to see little pixies, glitter dust flying around and a toad or two sitting beneath them. They resemble little umbrellas or a home for a gnome. Or it could be one of those UFOs we have been reading about of late.
However, it is none of those things, but rather gigantic mushrooms that appear on lawns. When one made its recent appearance (and quick disappearance) on our front lawn during our recent rainy, muggy weather, I decided investigate and learn about these gifts of nature.
Last week, I went to the Riverside, IL community page on Facebook to ask the question and received lots of replies — lots of smart people out there. Consensus is they usually appear where a tree had formerly been — thank you grandson Max Duve, the forester in our family.
Cory Hojka gave a detailed lesson, explaining they are the result of cell expansion underground and pop up when conditions are right.
“Once they fully expand/mature, which can be fairly quick, they drop their spores, the gills of the mushroom disintegrate or dissolve, and whatever is left dries up. And of course, while this is happening, bugs and critters may also come by for a snack too,” Hojka wrote.
One thing for sure — they are not edible — ask any true mushroom forager. Vera Wilt, Riverside Township Supervisor (and the first Berwyn-Cicero Houby Festival queen) told us her father and brother were true “houby hunters.”
The word “houby” in Czech means mushroom and the annual festival dating back to the 1960s in Berwyn and Cicero is a celebration of the Czech tradition of mushroom foraging.
Mary Stanga, of the former Riverside Restaurant (and don’t we all miss it), told of her husband gathering mushrooms at a certain time of the year and making mushroom soup.
Husband Joe felt the appearance of the large houby on our lawn was a tribute to his Czech heritage; now that is really stretching it. So what have we learned today? They appear from underground, no one is coming to steal them from your lawn, they are not edible, and they puff up with moisture. Also, I can confirm for the Kosey household all mushrooms will be served out of a can, glass jar or a little basket.
People ask where I get the ideas for my columns. Well, sometimes they magically appear on my front lawn.