I meant to post something about local mushrooms a couple of weeks ago when a particularly striking one popped up in my front yard. I got talking to some neighbors and one mentioned his dog eating some of the shrooms in his yard--which cannot be good and did not work out too well for the dog or my neighbor's rug. The Merc/Times reminded me today with this piece
With our recent wet weather, you probably are seeing mushrooms popping up all around you. Mushrooms are the visible, reproductive structures of fungus, called fruiting bodies. Their job is to house and disseminate reproductive spores. Most fungi, even those in the lawn, are beneficial. They help decompose organic matter and release nutrients to our plants and soil.
If you click through to the Merc site, you can read about various local varieties, but I happen to know a guy who was a commercial mushroom farmer in the Santa Cruz mountains and he identified the one in my yard as the psychedelic variety amanita muscaria that is apparently related to the Death Cap but different. Here's the one from my yard so you know what to look out for.