From the toadstools of fairytales to the exotic shiitake of Japan, mushrooms have held a place in our imaginations — and on our dinner plates — for centuries. In this series of photographs, however, you’ll see a more unfamiliar side of fungi — close-ups of the fragile and tender gills that are usually tucked away beneath the cap.
Our first mushroom has long been a favorite with children’s book illustrators. But here, instead of the familiar red and white spotted cap of the Fly Agaric mushroom, are the more subdued, but just as lovely, colors and textures of the gills on its underside.
Image: Claudio Pia
The plump fleshiness of this mushroom’s stalk contrasts with its delicate coral-colored gills or ‘lamellae’. These fragile folds are not just beautiful; they disperse the mushroom’s reproductive spores — without which we wouldn’t have any more mushrooms!
Image: Kip Taylor-Brown
Looking at this mushroom, you almost expect it to burst into flames! The striking ember colors of this photograph make it look less like something you’d eat, and maybe more like something you’d cook on…