The dreamlike fungi that thrive in nature’s damp corners

While sheltering at home in the Netherlands, this photographer watched an array of fungi appear amid the rotting wood and forest litter.

One of the best-known wild mushroom species, the fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) is the photographer’s favorite, and he was delighted to find it growing in his yard and his neighbor’s.

I've traveled all over the world taking pictures of nature and ecosystems. When COVID-19 hit in March 2020 in the Netherlands, where I live, I stayed home like everyone else. That’s when I began to notice the fungi growing in my yard and around my neighborhood.

That mushrooms and other fungi thrive in humidity became abundantly clear to me starting in autumn 2019, when the Netherlands received an exceptional amount of precipitation.

But perhaps more essential than humidity for fungi is dead wood. Rotting timber contains nutrients that enter the soil, which in turn can help microorganisms, fungi, and insects. The entire food chain benefits from it. Around here, deposits of wood left behind from a former era of forest cutting have long enriched the soil and supported biodiversity.

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