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PHOTOS: Discovering The Hidden World Of Fungi In Western North Carolina

Mock Oyster Mushrooms
E.J. Dwigans
"I was drawn to these Mock Oyster Mushrooms by their beauty and their smell, reminiscent of rotten eggs," said E.J. Dwigans, an Asheboro resident who also works as a North Carolina State Park Ranger at Gorges State Park.

For E.J. Dwigans, the intersection of nature and photography is where he most likes to be.

"My favorite place to take photos is the forest, any forest," said Dwigans, 26, of Brevard. "There are so many hidden facets of nature that many people never get the opportunity to see."

Instagram: @shroomiej

Dwigans has always been interested in photography but became more serious about it five years ago when he started taking photos of fungi and plants to identify when he got home after hiking.

Luckily, he often finds himself outdoors as a North Carolina State Park Ranger at Gorges State Park.

"While I don't get paid for my photos, my reward comes from teaching people about things they never knew existed that can be found right in their own backyard,"  he said. "I am often able to fuse my love of nature photography with my work, teaching visitors about the hidden and unseen world around us."

#wuncphotos: Share your North Carolina photos with WUNC on Instagram
Related: Finding Beauty And Adventure In Everyday Moments

Dwigans sometimes uses a Canon EOS t3i for his photography but more often than not, he shoots on his iPhone6.

His advice for people: "Make time for nature. Walk through the woods and when you do try to slow down, notice the little things because what you discover might astound and inspire you."

Note: This is the third installment in an occasional series profiling North Carolina photographers.

An edible Cauliflower mushroom
Credit E.J. Dwigans /
"This edible Cauliflower Mushroom often looks more like flower than fungi," said E.J. Dwigans.

Shaggy-stalked Bolete mushroom
Credit E.J. Dwigans /
Shaggy-stalked Bolete (Heimioporus betula). This bizarre looking mushroom is common in the mixed pine-oak forests of Southern Appalachia.

a mushroom excreting water through its pores
Credit E.J. Dwigans /
Mushrooms like this Oak Bracket Polypore exhibit guttation, in which excess water is excreted through their pores.

Jack O'lantern Mushrooms
Credit E.J. Dwigans /
Jack O'Lantern Mushrooms.

False Turkey Tail mushroom
Credit E.J. Dwigans /
False Turkey Tail mushroom. The true Turkey Tail mushroom is a powerful medicinal with anti-tumor properties.

A Chocolate Tube Slime mushroom.
Credit E.J. Dwigans /
This soft, fluffy slime mold is known as Chocolate Tube Slime.
Honey Mushrooms
Credit E.J. Dwigans /
Honey Mushrooms after a short-lived rainstorm.
Northern Tooth Fungus
Credit E.J. Dwigans /
Northern Tooth Fungus. These mushrooms feed on the innermost portion of a tree causing heart rot. Eventually the tree may weaken to a point in which it will snap in a strong wind.

Elizabeth “Liz” Baier is WUNC’s Supervising Editor for Race, Class and Communities. She has two decades of experience than span print, audio, and digital reporting and editing.
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