Last moon, while scouting for mushrooms, I walked right past this sizable, fleshy fruiting body growing at the base of a large Oak (Quercus sp.). Luckily, Jenny was with me, and she didn't miss it.
"Whoa! Josh, check that out," she exclaimed.
"Now that's a mushroom," I replied as I doubled back along the trail.
Minutes later, we shared our find with a mother and daughter (and their friendly canine companion) who were out for an afternoon ramble.
Back at home, I consulted my nature library and some online resources and found a name for this brain-like mass: Sparassis spathulata (syn. S. herbstii and S. caroliniense) or commonly the Eastern Cauliflower Mushroom. Have you ever bumped into one of these?
For identification details, visit MushroomExpert.com.
Today marks the end of my Mushroom Moon Challenge which began on September 14th. I observed well over 30 species of fungi including many species I've previously profiled:
Craterellus cornucopioides (Black Trumpet)
Fomes fomentarius (Tinder Conk)
Ganoderma applanatum (Artist's Conk, pictured above)
Ganoderma tsugae (Hemlock Reishi)
Hydnum repandum (Hedgehog Mushroom)
Inonotus obliquus (Chaga)
Piptoporus betulinus (Birch Polypore)
Suillus americanus (White Pine Bolete)
I got to know a dozen or so new-to-me ground-dwelling species and took a closer look at many familiar-to-me wood-eating species. Below is a gallery of some of the fruiting bodies I observed during my moon-long challenge. (To view the following images in full-size, click here.)
A great many mushroom species have gills or tubes from which spores are released; a relative few have spines, or so-called teeth, instead. One widespread toothed mushroom who grows on the ground is Hydnum repandum, the Hedgehog Mushroom. Author David Spahr speaks highly of this edible, typically bug-free mushroom, in particular noting the Hedgehog Mushrooms's pleasing aroma. Referring to his experience dehydrating them, he writes, "I do not think any mushroom makes my house smell better".* To learn more about Hydnum repandum, read Spahr's online article and visit Michael Kuo's authoritative site. (To view the following images in full-size, click here.)
*David Spahr, Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms of New England and Eastern Canada (2009), p. 54. A free web-based version of the book can be found here.
The look of these fresh White Pine Boletes (Suillus americanus) calls to mind scrabbled eggs with a dash of paprika, and the slimy surfaces of this yellow mushroom may explain another common name, Chicken Fat Mushroom. White Pine Boletes grow in association with Eastern White Pine and are reportedly edible (I've not tried them).
As with any wild food, be sure to positively identify any mushrooms you plan to eat and consult several sources to obtain information on edibility and proper preparation before sampling. For more details on this species, see the profiles at MushroomExpert.com. (To view the following images in full-size, click here.)
This summer I had the good fortune of gathering Black Trumpets (Craterellus cornucopioides) in the company of several fungi-loving friends. One of my friends, who had been scouting several forested spots for weeks, led our group directly to several lush patches, where we were able to quickly fill our foraging baskets with these fragrant fungi. Black Trumpets are easy to recognize but can be difficult to find as their color often blends well with leaf litter on the forest floor, so hunting with an experienced "Trumpeter" can be very helpful. Continue reading Edible Mushrooms: Black Trumpet