Past Mushrooms of the Month
Mushroom of the Month: February, 2014
Their mass rotted off them flake by flake
Til the thick stalk stuck like a murderer’s stake,
Where rags of loose flesh yet tremble on high
Infecting the winds that wander by.
from The Sensitive Plant, Percy Bysshe Shelley - circa 1820
Imagine this – you’re a young and growing mushroom fruit-body. In a short amount of time, you’ve been triggered to grow and burst forth from the ground with enough force to break through solid concrete. Once in the atmosphere you’ve been designed to seek, additional triggers create a wave of spores to be released from the bottom of your column-shaped cap. Now, in a seemingly bizarre move, you begin to breakdown the very fibers of your being, turning your once firm cap into a melting mass of black goo. Eventually, nothing is left of your white and scaly brown button but ghostly tatters of dripping, oozing black that flail from a defiantly upright and bony looking stipe…
Mushroom of the Month: December, 2013
One of the first wild mushrooms that beginning foragers seek out is our local golden chanterelle. That is most likely because it is relatively abundant, is easy to recognize and has a reputation for being a good edible. For many years, these mushrooms went by the Latin name Cantharellus cibarius...
Mushroom of the Month: November, 2013
This month’s featured species turns up in the plastic bags of people attending the Fungus Fair perhaps more than any other fleshy fungus. Invariably, hordes of people will be lined up at the mushroom ID table with bags containing fresh to soggy specimens of Agaricus mushrooms they found “growing in my lawn. Are these edible? Will they poison my dog, cat, kids?”
Mushroom of the Month: October, 2013
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: August, 2013
Of all the choice edible mushrooms that occur in our area, none has eluded me longer than the matsutake, Tricholoma magnivelare. The name matsutake literally means pine mushroom, from the habitat in which it is found in Japan. Formerly called Armillaria ponderosa, our species is a close relative of the Japanese form.