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By hiring a member of Florida Green Guide Association (FGGA) you can ensure a memorable and educational outdoor experience. Our diverse group of guides offers a vast array of cultural heritage and nature based experiences including: hiking, birding, beach walking, camping, fishing, kayaking, wildflower viewing, fresh water spring and creek tours and even nature based art and photography. Please feel free to contact us, let us know your special interest, and let a Green Guide help you plan your unique adventure.  Green Guide Directory

The FGGA is a statewide non-profit trade association created for graduates of the Wakulla Environmental Institute a program of Tallahassee Community College. Certified Green Guides are eligible to join after graduation in order to assist in the promotion and marketing of their businesses.  Members must adhere to a code of ethics and the “Leave No Trace” principles, which serve to advance personal and professional integrity standards in activities related to ecotourism.  The Green Guide Association exists to maintain and monitor those standards as set forth by members. FGGA also provides continuing education opportunities as well as a forum for the exchange of ideas and information among the membership.  Chester Butler is the current president, Serge Latour is the vice president, Donna Ingle is Secetary, and Lesley Cox is their treasurer.

Florida Master Naturalist Winter 2017 newsletter.  Enjoy the article about FGGA!!

Latest Blog

Exploding Shrooms!

Chester Butler

2/2017

If you walk the trails or roads of Franklin and Wakulla Counties in January or February, you are likely to see beige or tan balls pushing up through the bare spots in the sand. The next day on your walk, you may notice these little balls seem to be preparing for something. At the top of the ball, a pucker is forming.

By the third day, there is a jagged but symmetrical hole in the top of the ball. The jagged edges are turned back. Maybe the thing exploded during the night? Carefully, you look inside. You see a hollow interior with brown or black velvety sides. It looks like the insides are charred. Maybe this thing launched a projectile of some kind?

What are these weird things?

They are mushrooms. But mushrooms don’t explode and they don’t launch projectiles, do they?  Well, these do. What you have found are a form of mushroom commonly called puffballs. And puffballs have talents other mushrooms lack.

So, what’s up with these unusual puffballs that suddenly appear from almost barren soil?  Unlike other mushrooms, a puffball’s spores (think seeds) are formed internally. As the puffball pushes out of the ground, the upper portion dries out faster than the rest. The drying skin puckers and soon it rips open. When this happens, it does look like a little explosion took place.  

Now, the spores inside are “puffed out” every time pressure is exerted on the outside skin of the puffball. It’s like flipping your finger on a powder puff. When you do, a puff of powder is launched into the air. Even a raindrop hitting a puffball will launch or “puff out” thousands, sometimes millions of tiny spores through the opening.

Puff balls are prolific, too. Depending on who is counting, a single puffball can produce between 700 billion and 700 trillion spores. Don’t ask, I have no idea who counts puffball spores!

As we move through the seasons, different species of puffballs appear along the trails. One of the most common genus is a group commonly called Earthstars. You will not have any trouble spotting them. They look like a ball, sitting in the middle of a star shape. The star will have at least 6 points. They are usually tan or brown. 

Shrooms on the move

Puffballs have one other startling capability. Because their spores are so small and light, they can actually travel around the world on air currents. Puffball spores are the original jet setters. The puffballs in our dunes and forests maybe the result of spores that traveled 25,000 miles or more to visit us. That’s a hardy tourist!

So, enjoy our long distant visitors, but beware these are not the kind of puffballs that may be eaten. Besides you wouldn’t gobble up a tourist, would you?