Past Mushrooms of the Month
Mushroom of the Month: August, 2016
This month we take a look at a little brown job, that is dear to my heart but probably not to most of yours. Galerina autumnalis is a small brown job, growing on well rotten logs and stumps during wet months. And as a small brown job, why do people care at all here, since for most people those are the mushrooms you do best to ignore? This species has been shown to contain the same toxins as that of Amanita phalloides, a.k.a. “the Death Cap”. That species has been associated with the most cases of deadly poisonings around the world. But in the case of G. autumnalis since it is a LBJ (little brown job), it is rarely the case of mushroom poisonings, since who wants to eat LBJs anyway? But it comes up positive in tests for amanita-toxins, and in lists of poisonous mushrooms it always makes the cut. And people are always fascinated with deadly things, now, aren't they?
Mushroom of the Month: June, 2016
As many of you know the mushroom world has been going through a lot of changes in recent years with the onset of genetic sequencing. One of the main impacts of this has been the renaming or reclassification of not only singular mushrooms, but in some instances whole genera (heck, Suillus got its own family!). It sometimes seems that just about every mushroom we see in our local woods now has a new name or spot in the myco tree of life. And one of our most prized groups of local mushrooms, the boletes, is no exception. With the recent publishing of scientific papers some of their names have changed as well. So let’s dive in at the first official wave of name changes to impact our beloved Boletus.
Mushroom of the Month: May, 2016
One of the most common remarks I get from eager beginners in the fall and winter is, "look at all these Boletes!" Excited that they have just hit the mother load of culinary excellence, I remark (as many before me), "sorry… it's a Suillus". As what a Suillus is and why it is not on par with a "true" Bolete is explained, you can see the disappointment set in. Just one of those mushroom "rights of passage" we all have to go through. You spend an hour in the woods collecting what you think is going to be the meal of the year, only to find out you have the culinary equivalent of a wet sponge, and a maggot riddled one at that! With a little time and experience however Suillus is one of our easier local fungi to ID at the genus level simply by sight.
Mushroom of the Month: March, 2016
As deep winter settles on the Redwood Coast, you’ll begin to notice many small red, orange and yellow Waxy Caps (Hygrocybe); sprinkled through the understory of redwood forests; beacons of color in the dark duff. California enjoys a great diversity of Waxy Caps, many of which have special affinity for Coast Redwood, California Bay-laurel and Monterey Cypress habitats. Unfortunately, we are using 'borrowed' European names for many of these lovely waxy caps, and as we continue to learn about our mycoflora, we are realizing that many of our species are distinct, and deserving of their own names.
Mushroom of the Month: February, 2016
Psilocybe is primary genus of hallucinogenic mushrooms, containing such famous species as Liberty Caps (P. semilanceata), Cubes (P. cubensis), and the topic of this month’s article, Wavy Caps (P. cyanescens).
Almost always encountered on woodchips, Psilocybe cyanescens is an aggressive ruderal species, fond of disturbance in urban areas. It is especially common in the cold, wet winter months around the San Francisco Bay. Through a combinatin of unintentional and intentional transplantation by humans and natural dispersal, it has spread widely throughout the United States. In California, it occurs at least as far south as San Diego County, although it is fairly rare south of Santa Cruz County.