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Rain barrel workshop held at The Gardens

published: 06/24/2016

Rain barrel workshop held at The Gardens

Last weekend, Volunteer Coordinator Taylor Steele worked with Alabama Cooperative Extension System to lead a rain barrel workshop at The Gardens.

Participants learned the benefits of capturing and storing rain water from their roof and how best to reapply the water in their yard. This water conservation practice provides free irrigation and reduces polluted runoff because the rain that was captured otherwise would have flowed over a paved surface or lawn, picked up and carried items such as pet waste, lawn chemicals and trash, and drained untreated directly into our local creeks and rivers.


To learn more about all of the educational opportunities The Gardens has to offer, we encourage you to visit our website, find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow us on Instagram. You can subscribe to the award-winning Dirt E-Lert, our bi-weekly e-newsletter, by simply texting BBGARDENS to 22828.

About Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens is Alabama's largest living museum with more than 12,000 different plants in its living collections. The Gardens' 67.5 acres contains more than 25 unique gardens, 30+ works of original outdoor sculpture and miles of serene paths. The Gardens features the largest public horticulture library in the U.S., conservatories, a wildflower garden, two rose gardens, the Southern Living garden, and Japanese Gardens with a traditionally crafted tea house. Education programs run year round and more than 11,000 school children enjoy free science-curriculum based field trips annually. The Gardens is open daily, offering free admission to more than 350,000 yearly visitors.


Juan Luis Mata introduces mycology at The Gardens on July 9

published: 06/22/2016

Juan Luis Mata introduces mycology at The Gardens on July 9

On Saturday, July 9 from 12:30-4:30 p.m., Juan Luis Mata, Ph.D. comes to Birmingham Botanical Gardens to lead the Certificate in Native Plant Studies session "Mushrooms, Mycorrhizae, Magic and Madness: And Introduction to Mycology." The session will focus on macrofungi, which include any type of fungal reproductive structure that is evident to the naked eye. Recognition of the major groups of macrofungi will be taught with special attention to those forming beneficial symbiotic relationships with plants.

Before the session, Mata shared more about what to expect.

Mycology seems pretty specific, but at the same time, it's a really broad topic. Why does it seem that way?

It's like medicine - within medicine there are many disciplines. And within each discipline, there's a specialty. It's the same with mycology. Mycology encompasses all fungi that we know of - yeast, molds, mushrooms - it's really, really diverse. From all of those taxa that there are in fungi, I work with a very small group of mushrooms. It's very, very specific - two or three genre. That's my specialty and that's what I do.

Can we find those specific mushrooms in Alabama?

Oh yes! There's even a couple of species whose original descriptions are from Alabama. The fungi that I work with are found in forest systems, in leaves and soil. They're common, but they're not really attractive compared to other mushrooms, so they're often overlooked.

They're small in stature. If you see them in a book, they're the so-called "LBM's' - Little Brown Mushrooms. They are very important because they're an important source of nutrients in that forest.

How can macrofungi benefit plants?

The fungi that I study are saprophytic. There's a whole group of macrofungi that are forming symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationships with the roots of many plants. Oaks, pine trees - very important components of ecosystems in the Eastern and Southeastern parts of the United States. The partnership of mushrooms with these roots is important because they help in the nutrition and acquisition of nutrients and water for those plants.

Besides that? There's a partnership between all fungi that benefits plants. Now we know that they exist in stems, in shoots - even in flowers. Although they aren't helping with nutrition, they may be helping in protecting from attack of potential parasitic fungi. In many ways, macrofungi are benefiting plants in those types of situations.

Are there any direct health benefits that macrofungi can offer humans?

Historically, humans have used fungi like they have used plants and plant products.

There was the iceman from Austria who was a 5,000-year-old man found unfrozen after the glaciers retreated and in his bag, among all of the things that he had in the bag, he had a couple of fungi that had been used as a way to treat wounds. People have used fungi to ingest for religious purposes and to add to their food. But they're not a main dietary staple. You can't eat just fungi and have all of the nutrition. You'd have to eat a lot of mushrooms to reach your daily caloric intake.

It's been documented in South America in certain tribes. In Mexico. In the Middle East and Asia. And in Africa. Compared to plants and animals, they just don't provide us many calories.

Are there dangers to macrofungi?

We may see some amanitas, which are the toadstool - the poisonous mushrooms, but as long as you don't eat them, they're not presenting any kind of danger. 


To learn more about all of the educational opportunities The Gardens has to offer, we encourage you to visit our website, find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow us on Instagram. You can subscribe to the award-winning Dirt E-Lert, our bi-weekly e-newsletter, by simply texting BBGARDENS to 22828.

About Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens is Alabama's largest living museum with more than 12,000 different plants in its living collections. The Gardens' 67.5 acres contains more than 25 unique gardens, 30+ works of original outdoor sculpture and miles of serene paths. The Gardens features the largest public horticulture library in the U.S., conservatories, a wildflower garden, two rose gardens, the Southern Living garden, and Japanese Gardens with a traditionally crafted tea house. Education programs run year round and more than 11,000 school children enjoy free science-curriculum based field trips annually. The Gardens is open daily, offering free admission to more than 350,000 yearly visitors.


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Phone: 205.414.3950

2612 Lane Park Road
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