Today’s Small Step: Name Names

By Faran Krentcil, Fact checked by Jessica Ochoa

1 min read

Mushroom in a woman's hand

Calling people names is boring. Calling fungi names is vital.

When we know something’s name, we feel more connected to it—and that makes it easier to respect, protect, and include it as part of our community.

Take it from Robin Wall Kimmerer, the revered author of Braiding Sweetgrass who says that “when we call a place by its name, it is transformed from wilderness to homeland.” When we call local fungi by their names, they’re transformed from random mushrooms into our neighbors. And since fungi cycle carbon through our soil and deliver nutrients back into the Earth, they are very cool neighbors.

Today’s small step? Learn the name of the next mushroom you see outdoors. You can do it through an online guide, an app like Book of Mushrooms, or even Google Lens, which can provide IDs in just a few seconds. 

Discovering the names of 🍄🍄🍄 will boost your connection to the natural world, and help plug you back into your local ecosystem—and you won’t even have to put down your phone. (But, like, you should do that, too...)