Operational Changes Took Effect on May 1
The Lighthouse Visitor Center is now only open Fridays through Mondays. The Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center will be closed through late December 2013. More »
2013 Harbor Seal Pupping Season Closures
From March 1 through June 30, the park implements closures of certain Tomales Bay beaches and Drakes Estero to water-based recreation to protect harbor seals during the pupping season. Please avoid disturbing seals to ensure a successful pupping season. More »
Mushrooms and Other Fungi
Mushrooms are short-lived, spore-producing structures (akin to apples on a tree); they are designed to release spores, and then decay. Picking a mushroom does not harm the long-lived fungal organism. The "body" of a mushroom is hidden from our eyes, and is composed of a vast, branching network of tiny, elongate cells called hyphae. These hyphal threads grow through and break down dead wood, providing a vital recycling service to our forests. Fungal hyphae also live in the ground, and connect up with the rootlets of trees, shrubs and almost all other green plants, forming a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship. This mycorrhizal (fungus-root) partnership greatly increases the ability of trees and plants to take up water, and absorb essential minerals. In return, the fungus is provided with photosynthetic nutrients. Neither organism is able to function fully without the other.
Mushrooms at Point Reyes National Seashore
Mushrooms are a vitally important aspect of the diverse, natural world of Point Reyes National Seashore. They are found in all types of park habitat, from Bishop pine forests to coast live oak woodlands, meadows to sand dunes. Mushrooms are not only vital to the health of the Pt. Reyes eco-system, but they also add charm and magic to the landscape. Appearing seemingly overnight in response to rain, they come in a vast array of fantastic colors and shapes, from brilliant red, to purple, to golden orange, with caps ranging from the size of a pinhead, to as large as a dinner plate. A slow walk through almost any landscape during the mushroom season can produce a world of wonder at your feet.
The best time to see mushrooms at Point Reyes National Seashore is starting from two weeks after the first, soaking fall rain, and on into the winter and spring. Fruiting is affected by the amount and frequency of rain (too much can be as bad as too little) as well as the temperature. Many variables affect whether mushrooms are produced, and even experienced collectors can't always predict when and where they will appear.
Please note: employee housing as well as park administrative, maintenance, operations, and storage facilities, including, but not limited, to access roads, outbuildings, grounds, and docks, are closed to public use.
No mushroom should be eaten unless it can first be positively identified as edible. Learning to identify mushrooms in their many guises takes time, and reliable resources. The best way to learn about mushrooms is through local field guides and mushroom societies. Visit the Bay Area Mycological Society's Mushroom Poisonings page for more information on identifying the three most deadly mushrooms in California.
Text by Debbie Viess
Join us for the annual Point Reyes National Seashore Fungus Fair. The Fungus Fair is an opportunity to learn about the fungi gathered by more than 100 volunteers who are helping to collect, identify, and catalog the species of mushrooms at the Point Reyes National Seashore. Amateur mycologists will be on hand to talk about mushrooms, their role in the environment, and more!
To learn more about mushrooms in the San Francisco Bay area visit the Bay Area Mycological Society website.
Watch the Death Cap Mushrooms at Point Reyes National Seashore Soundslides presentation - January 26, 2010 - 5:06 minutes (~10 MB)
Did You Know?
Elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris)are the largest pinniped with males reaching a maximum of about 5,000 lbs. Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) are much smaller with both males and females reaching a maximum weight of around 250 lbs. More...