Mushrooms and Spring

Last week I had my first phone call about spring mushrooms1. This is an annual ritual2 with mixed benefits3. It does remind me that when April arrives in this part of the U.S., some people begin thinking about edible4 mushrooms, especially about morel5 mushrooms, or sponge mushrooms as they are commonly called.


Mushrooms are fungi6, and like other living things, some are edible, some inedible7 and some poisonous8. Knowledge of edibility9 accumulated over time as humans tried to eat specific types of mushrooms or other food, and the results were observed, remembered and reported to other people.


Eventually10 as humans developed language11, they passed on information about mushrooms to one another. When language became written, some people began to study and write down information about edibility. Finally some people began to specialize12 in the study of mushrooms. Their written records were organized13 in books. That is why people call me. Some friends and I wrote a mushroom book that can be used for identification14 of mushrooms. It also tells which mushrooms have been reported to be edible.


When spring finally arrives, people are anxious to get outside15 to enjoy nature16. One of the excuses17 for being outside is the annual mushroom hunt18. Not everyone owns a mushroom book, so newspapers print articles19 and radio stations20 have short specialty21 talks about them. The phone call I received last week led to my being interviewed22 this morning by a man from the local radio station. He wondered where morels can be found, and how one can tell which may be poisonous look-alikes23. We had an enjoyable conversation24, and one thing I know for sure is that when his mushroom program airs25 on our local station, I’ll receive many more phone calls.



1. spring mushrooms: fleshy fungi which appear in the spring of the year.

2. annual ritual: an event which occurs each year (每年都会发生的事).

3. mixed benefits: results which are sometimes good and other times not good (不确定是好是坏的结果).

4. edible: something which can be eaten safely (可食用的).

5. morel: a desirable type of mushroom characterized by a sponge-like appearance (一种比较好的蘑菇,外表像海绵). Some people consider them to be the very best of edible mushrooms.

6. fungi (真菌): organisms placed in their own group, separate from plants, animals and bacteria.

7. inedible: not edible because of texture, flavor, or poisonous compounds (不能食用的,由于质量、味道或含有有毒化合物等原因).

8. poisonous: having the property of being harmful or destructive if eaten (有毒的).

9. edibility: the quality of suitability for eating without harmful effects (可食用性).

10. eventually: in the end, after a period of time (最终,终于).

11. language: the ability to communicate accurately, usually orally (语言能力).

12. specialize: focus on (a specific part of a body of knowledge) (专门/重点研究).

13. organized: placed in a meaningful system for study or use (编写于……以便研究).

14. identification: determination of specific types so that each may be accurately recognized (确认).

15. outside: in a natural setting, not within a building or other structure (室外、户外).

16. nature: all of the types of living things which occur in the world (大自然).

17. excuses: reasons given for performing a given action or behavior (理由、借口).

18. annual mushroom hunt: a search for certain mushrooms such as morels which appear about the same time each year (每年去找、拣蘑菇).

19. articles: short news items about a given topic or subject (报纸上的专题短文章).

20. radio stations: places where radio broadcasts originate or take place (无线电台).

21. specialty: specific topics relating to something or event (专业、专题).

22. interviewed: engaged in conversation with a reporter or interviewer who asks specific questions of the topic of interest (被采访、访谈).

23. look-alikes: a look-alike is one that looks like another (看上去一样的东西).

24. how one can tell which may be poisonous look-alikes: 人们如何能够辨别,看上去一样的东西会是有毒的。Mushrooms or other things which may appear to be harmless but which in reality are poisonous. In mushrooms collected for eating in the wild, this is a major problem which can be avoided only by knowledge of the mushrooms involved.

25. airs: is broadcast on the radio for listeners to hear (广播).


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