BARRINGTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A rare mushroom, found by a local 5th grader, is causing quite a stir among mushroom lovers in Southern New England.
Silas Claypool has been hunting for mushrooms for four years with his dad, Rick. He is a 5th grader from Barrington who loves exploring nature.
“We went on this walk in the woods one day, and I started seeing all of these interesting mushrooms. I started asking my dad way too many questions he didn’t know,” Silas told 12 News Meteorologist T.J. Del Santo while on a mushroom hunt.
There were many mushrooms clearly visible in the Veterans Memorial Park woods behind the Barrington YMCA. Silas pointed out Hen of the Woods, Chicken of the Woods, False Turkey Tail and oyster mushrooms among many other species of fungus he could quickly identify. Some mushrooms were edible, some were not. Some were even good for medicinal purposes like the birch polypore.
Finding mushrooms in the forest or in your yard can be a fun hobby, but, as Silas learned, it can be quite rewarding.
While riding their bikes in late August, Silas pointed out a pretty unusual mushroom to his father. After a little research, they realized they discovered something never seen or at least documented in Rhode Island.
“It’s called Billie’s Bolete,” Silas said. “It’s only been found on Cape Cod.”
Silas guessed that it was maybe one of the tropical storms or hurricanes that blew the spores here from the Cape.
“We’re really excited. We’re so proud of him. It’s something he saw and knew and recognized that it was something different,” Rick Claypool said.
“Very significant,” said Deana Thomas, founder of the Rhode Island Mycological Society. “This species has only been documented a handful of times.”
Thomas said, like animals and plants, mushrooms also face threats from climate change and loss of habitat. They are important to the ecosystem because they provide a habitat for small animals and insects and are often a source of food.
“We need more information about where the mushroom can be found so that we can better understand the habitat and the distribution and phenology of the species,” Thomas said.
Silas not only enjoys searching for mushrooms, he also enjoys bird watching. In fact, while on the mushroom hunt, he identified a small bird nest, once home to a hummingbird.
When asked what he wants to do when he gets older, Silas replied he wants to be an ornithologist or a mycologist.
The Billie’s Bolet mushrooms are no longer there, but they could come back next year.