First Issue, July, 1998
Published about twice a year from Greenville, California
by Herman Brown

Click on any picture to see a larger image

Why This Newsletter?

There are at least two reasons for this newsletter:

  1. I love almost everything there is about mushrooms - I love talking about them, looking for them, finding them, learning about them, and eating them.
  2. Since retiring and moving to Greenville, I needed something to exercise my brain.

I had only heard about a few of the edible mushrooms in the area. After exploring around the area this last fall, I found that there were much more than I expected. In one day, I found over 26 different species, and of those, 22 were listed as edible!

I hope to use this newsletter to talk about some of those and other local mushrooms.

Fall, 1997 (top)

Last October, while walking with a friend, I started noticing lots of mushrooms. The more I looked, the more I found. At first I was overwhelmed by the quantity, so I didn't identify very many. But after a few days, I was able to identify the following (listed alphabetically:

Agaricus bitorquis (Tork, edible and choice)
Armillaria mellea (Honey Mushroom, edible and choice)
Boletus aereus (Queen Bolete, edible and choice)
Boletus edulis (King Bolete, edible and choice)
Boletus regius (Red-Capped Boletus, edible and choice)
Boletus subtomentosus (Boring Brown Bolete, edible)
Boletus zelleri, (Zeller's Bolete, edible and good)
Chroogomphus pseudovinicolor (Robust Pine Spike, edible)
Chroogomphus rutilus, (Pine Spike, edible)
Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Mane, edible and good)
Gomphidius glutinosus (Glutinous Gomphidius, edible)
Gomphus floccosus (Wooly Chanterelle, edible with caution)
Gomphidius subroseus (Rosy Gomphidius, edible)
Hericium erinaceus (Lion's Mane, edible and choice)
Hydnum imbricatum (Shingled Hedgehog, edible)
Hygrophorus gliocyclus (Glutinous Waxy Cap, edible and choice)
Hygrophorus agathosmus (Gray Almond Waxy cap, edible)
Lactarius deliciosus (Delicious Milk Cap, edible)
Lactarius rubrilacteus (Bleeding Milk Cap, known locally as the Sauguinine, edible and good)
Lepiota castenea (Petite Parasol, poisonous)
Leucopaxillus albissimus (Large White Leucopaxillus, edible)
Leucopaxillus amarus (Bitter Brown Leucopaxillus, inedible)
Naematoloma capnoides (Conifer Tuft, edible)
Pleurotus ostreatus (Oyster Mushroom, edible and good)
Russula rosacea (Rosy Russula, inedible)
Russula albonigra (Blackening Russula, edible)
Suillus lakei (Western Painted Suillus, edible)
Tricholoma flavovirens (Man on Horseback, edible and choice)

Note that almost all are listed as edible!

Spring, 1998 (top)

This spring I heard that there were something north of town that looked like morels. After checking out the area described by my source, I found more than a few Morchella elata, or Black Morels. Along with the morels, I found a few large Sculptured Puffballs (Calbovista subsculpta), some Snow Mushrooms (Gyromitra montana), a few Thimble Morels (Verpa conica) and many odd-looking mushrooms called the Pink Crown (Sarcosphaera crassa). All of these mushrooms are considered edible, though the Pink Crown can make some individuals sick and may contain high concentrations of Arsenic. It has the look and texture of a cup fungus, but starts as a closed hollow ball just at the ground surface, and opens up to expose a light pink interior. It seemed to be prevalent wherever there were morels, and I used them as a handy sign that morels might be close by.

I tried cooking up a few of the Pink Crowns just to see what they tasted like and thought they tasted like, and had the texture of, sweet onions. Of course, the cooked morels were great!

I also found some miscellaneous inedible mushrooms such as the colorful Orange Mock Oyster (Phyllotopsis nidulans), the cute Common Bird's Nest Fungi (Crucibulum laeve), a Common Gymnopilus (Gymnopilus terrestris) and some Silky Nolanea (Nolanea sericea).

Throughout the remainder of the Spring, I found a few of the tasty Man on Horseback (Tricholoma flavovirens), a few unidentified Agaricus, saw lots of the poisonous Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric), some of the small puffballs (Bovista plumbea), some Pig's Ears (Discina perlata), some of the edible Yellow Coral Mushrooms (Ramaria rasilispora), and many of the edible (and quite good!) Fairy Ring Mushrooms (Marasmius oreades) in the lawns around Greenville. If you have never tried them, you might seriously consider gathering and cooking them. They are easily dried for later use, can be used almost in any mushroom recipe, and are usually quite plentiful at this time of the year. Because of the similarity to other mushrooms, some of which are considered poisonous, BE SURE OF YOUR IDENTIFICATION!

The Fairy Ring Mushroom is the featured mushroom at the end of this issue.

Summer 1998 (top)

The summer does produce a few mushrooms. Among the first that I found were the Cortinarius magnivelatus and the Smooth Earthball (Scleroderma cepa).

The C. magnivelatus is an unusual-looking mushroom in that the veil doesn't seem to break, leaving a strong membrane over the gills even after they have matured. It is white and large, but is almost like a Gastroid Agaric in appearance because of the enclosed gills. It is not known to be edible.

The Smooth Earthball (Scleroderma cepa) is worth noting in that it looks exactly like a puffball, especially when it is young, but it is considered poisonous. The mushroom is dingy white, smooth, has a firm white interior when fresh, and has a rather thick skin.

The main difference between an Earthball and a Puffball is that the spore mass stays firm even after it begins to discolor, while a puffball's spore mass turns soft as it matures. Plus, none of the earthballs are considered edible. The S. cepa is known to cause severe gastronomic distress, although the distress stops when the mushroom is expelled.

The Butter Bolete (Boletus appendiculatus) (correction, the B.abieticola), is mostly yellow and has a very firm flesh when cooked. If you like firm-fleshed mushrooms, this is one worth collecting.

The last find of this Summer came in the same area as the Butter Bolete. I found two Ponderous Lentinus (Lentinus ponderosus) attached to a Conifer stump, and both were about 11 inches in diameter. They are a good substitute for the Shiitake bought in the stores as long as they are cooked well. Because of their great size, taste, and texture, they are a good find. These two resulted in about a quart of cooked mushrooms.

The reason for including this (long) list is to point out that there are many good and edible mushrooms to be found in this area!

Make sure of your identification!

No mushroom should be eaten unless you are positively sure of its identification. One way to help identify the mushroom, and perhaps the first and one of the most important part of any keying process, is to determine the color of the spores.

From Mushrooms Demystified, by David Arora:

Always take a spore print to determine the spore color of an unknown mushroom, especially if you want to eat it. The color of the gills may indicate the spore color, but not often enough to be completely trusted.

I obtain a spore print by placing the cap of a (fresh) gilled mushroom on a newspaper, making sure that the gills are covering both white and black spaces on the newspaper. That way, no matter what the spore color is, the spore print will be visible.

Even some so-called edible mushrooms can make certain individuals sick. It is suggested that you try a small portion of any new mushroom first (AFTER identifying it), to make sure you won't get sick.

Suggested books on Mushrooms:

  1. Mushrooms Demystified, Second Edition, 1986 by David Arora, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA (best book for keying new mushrooms).
  2. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, 1981, Chanticleer Press, Inc., New York (best for finding by color and shape).
  3. Mushrooms of North America, by Orson K. Miller, Jr., sixth printing, 1984, Chanticleer Press, New York. (a good source and also good for a second opinion).

A Morel Soup Recipe (top)

From an article "The Hunt, The Quarry, and the Skillet" by Angelo M. Pellegrinin (in The New Wild Savory Mushroom, University of Washington Press):

I consulted the cookbooks, only to discover that only one included a recipe for mushroom soup, and that not a satisfactory one. So I created my own. I cleaned the morels and cooked them partially in butter and oil with shallots and parsley. Then I creamed them in a blender and finished cooking them in chicken broth, just enough of the broth to yield a dense but nicely fluid soup. The only spice I used was a bit of nutmeg. When the soup had simmered for about fifteen minutes, I put it into quart jars. The yield was eight quarts. No fluid was used, no filler, no thickening agent. The density and substance of the soup were produced by the abundance of morels. And in that state the soup was frozen. A rich cream, about a cup for each quart, would be added later when the soup was thawed and heated for serving. One might also add a bit of dry sherry, but sherry must never be used unless it is dry and of superior quality.

A Most Memorable Hunt (top)

One of my most memorable hunts was during last fall the day after I identified my first Queen Bolete (Boletus aereus)

I went to one of the places I had seen some before and saw the telltale mounds of pine needles everywhere!

There were mounds next to a paved road. There were mounds ON a dirt road! Each mound yielded at least one large Queen Bolete.

Instead of carefully cutting them all off at the base to avoid dirt and protect the mycelium, I yanked them out indiscriminately! I quickly filled my basket and continued to fill a part of the pickup bed.

Truckfull of Boletes

A sinkful of Boletes
A sink full of Boletes!

Needless to say, I dried most of them. I STILL have jars of dried Queens.

To help in reading the featured mushroom data sheet (and other data sheets to follow), I am including a copy of the glossary from the Mykoweb website.

Glossary (top)

  • adnate -- pertaining to the attachment of the fertile tissue of the gills, tubes, spines etc. to the stipe of the fungus, in which the attachment is typically perpendicular into the stipe, i.e. without dipping towards the pileus or down the stipe.
  • adnexed -- pertaining to the attachment of the fertile tissue of the gills, tubes, spines etc. to the stipe of the fungus, in which the fertile tissue typically curves upwards towards the pileus of the fungus before attaching to the stipe.
  • agaric -- a term commonly used to describe a fungus having a cap (pileus), gills (lamellae), and a stem (stipe), i.e., what most people would call a mushroom.
  • amyloid -- a chemical staining reaction in which the tissue, spore wall ornamentation, etc. stains bluish-black in Melzer's reagent. Examples include the spore ornamentation of species in the genera Russula and Lactarius.
  • annulus -- a ring of tissue on the stipe of mushroom formed by the rupture of a membrane (the partial veil) connecting the cap and stipe of a developing mushroom. A special layer of tissue which connects the margin of a mushroom pileus to the stipe, and can either form a ring around the stipe, or hang as fragments from the margin of the pileus, or variations of the two. Examples may be found in many genera such as Amanita, Cystoderma, Lepiota, and Suillus, among others.
  • ascus -- a specialized sexual reproductive cell found in the fertile area of the hymenium of all Ascomycetes, which is typically club shaped, and which forms internally 4 or 8 ascospores, usually in a row.
  • basidia -- the plural form of basidium.
  • basidium -- a specialized sexual reproductive cell found in the fertile area of the hymenium of all Basidiomycetes, typically shaped like a baseball bat, possessing four slightly inwardly curved horns (sterigma) to which the
  • basidiospores are attached.
  • cap -- see pileus.
  • cespitose -- clustered mushrooms fused at the base. Also spelled Caespitose.
  • clamp connection -- a special connection which forms at the junction of two adjacent fungal filamentous cells that looks something like the handle on a coffee cup, however, it may be flattened against the wall of the cells or may have a large opening (in this case a Keyhole clamp), that allows the migration of nuclei between developing cells.
  • cortina -- a special type of annulus which is filamentous, resembling a spider web, attached from the margin of the cap (pileus) to the stem (stipe) when young. In age only a few fibers may remain on the cap margin or the stipe.
  • cystidium -- a specialized sterile end cell formed anywhere in fungal tissue. Most commonly found in the hymenial layer of tissue, but may also be found on the surface of the cap, the surface of the stipe, or even within the sterile tissue of the stipe. There are many different types of cystidia, which are named based on the location where they are found, e.g. Dermatocystidia- on the surface tissues; Pileocystidia- found on the surface of the pilius; Caulocystidia- found on the surface of the stipe; Cheilocystidia- on the edge of the gill; Pleurocystidia- on the face of the gill; Endocystidia- form in the tramal tissue of the cap, or stipe; OR on their morphology, function, chemical reactions etc. such as Leptocystidia-which are thin-walled, smooth and do not have distinctive contents and are not tramal in origin; Gloeocystidia- which are variable in shape and stain easily or have conspicuous contents; Lamprocystidia- which are thick-walled and without conspicuous contents, etc.
  • decurrent -- pertaining to the attachment of the gills to the stipe, in which the gills curve partly down the stipe towards the base of the stipe.
  • deliquescing -- the process by which gills in the genus Coprinus rapidly breakdown into a black ink-like liquid, droplets of which disperse spores.
  • dextrinoid -- a chemical staining reaction in which the tissue, spore wall ornamentation etc. stains reddish to reddish-brown in Melzer's Reagent.
  • divergent -- usually referring to gill trama, in which the tramal hyphae branch outward from the gill center towards the hymenium and downward towards the gill edge.
  • echinulate -- referring to spiny ornamentation; e.g. the fine spines see on the surface of some species of puffballs in the genus lycoperdon. Also, the finely spined spores of Laccaria species.
  • evanescent -- rapidly disappearing.
  • farinaceous -- an odor variously described as that of raw potatoes, raw cucumbers, or even of soaps; mealy.
  • fibrillose --possessing surface fibrils.
  • filamentous -- composed of thread like cells.
  • floccose -- having a cottony appearance, like a flocked like a Christmas tree; seen in some species of Amanita.
  • gills -- see lamellae.
  • globose -- round in shape.
  • gregarious -- a growth form, in which mushrooms fruit in relatively close proximity.
  • hygrophanous -- having the characteristic of changing color upon drying.
  • KOH -- the chemical Potassium Hydroxide. Used in a 3% solution, it is a standard mounting medium used to rehydrate material for microscopic examination. It may also be used as a macro or micro chemical reagent differentially staining the tissues of some species. Concentrated solutions of this chemical are caustic and should be handled with care.
  • lamellae -- the technical term used to describe the gills of a mushroom.
  • lignicolous -- living on wood.
  • macrofungi -- fungi visible to the naked eye.
  • micron -- a metric unit of measure equal to one/ one-thousandth of a Millimeter. Written as 0.001mm or 1 or sometimes 1 m.
  • mycelium -- the filamentous vegetative portion of a fungus, specifically excluding the fruiting structure or reproductive phase of the life cycle. The mycelium may be invisible or conspicuous. In some cases mycelial strands may join to form thick strands called rhizomorphs.
  • mycorrhiza -- -a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and the roots of a plant.
  • pallid -- pale, light in color.
  • parasitic -- -a fungus which grows at the expense of another organism, drawing from it nourishment. Example: Armillaria mellea, the honey mushroom, or oak root rot fungus.
  • phenolic -- having an odor of the chemical phenol.
  • pileus -- the cap of a mushroom. The hymenium-supporting part of agarics.
  • punctate -- having minute scales or points on the surface.
  • putrescent -- tending to decay rapidly.
  • reticulate -- usually referring to a fish-net, or crosshatch pattern; the pattern may be on the surface of a mushroom as in Bolbitius reticulatus, the apex of the stipe as in Boletus edulis, or in the pattern of the ornamentation on some species of Russula or Lactarius.
  • saprophytic -- fungi that receive nourishment from dead organic material.
  • scabrous -- having conspicuous scales on the surface, as in Leccinum scabrum, a common species introduced into California with the planting on non-native Birch trees.
  • scrobiculate -- rounded depressions on the stipe of some species of mushrooms, as in Lactarius scrobiculatus.
  • sinuate -- referring to a type of gill attachment, specifically, gills that are notched at their point of attachment to the stipe.
  • spermatic -- resembling the odor of human sperm or semen (from the Trial Key to the Species of Mycena in the Pacific
  • sphaerocyst -- round swollen cells usually formed in clusters, characteristic of the Russulaceae.
  • spore -- reproductive cell found in the fungi.
  • sporocarp -- the fungal reproductive structure, e.g. a mushroom, which produces spores.
  • stem -- see stipe.
  • stipe -- the technical name for a mushroom stem or stalk. The stipe supports the pileus (cap) in the agarics (gilled mushrooms).
  • stipitate -- having a stipe or stem.
  • taxonomy -- the classification of organisms to show relationships to other organisms.
  • tomentose -- having very minute fine hairs on the surface.
  • truncate -- having a flattened or chopped off end, like the end of a baseball bat.
  • umbilicate -- having a small depression, e.g. as in a belly button.
  • umbonate -- referring usually to the raised nipple like structure at the center of some mushroom caps.
  • viscid -- slimy, sticky, viscous.
  • volva -- a sack like structure formed at the base of a stipe, such as in Amanita species.
  • zonate -- having a zoned appearance, usually referring to a mushroom cap that has concentric color bands giving it a zoned appearance. Common in Lactarius.

Featured Mushroom, Fairy Ring Mushroom (Marasmius oreades) (top)

This issue's featured mushroom is the Fairy Ring Mushroom or Marasmius oreades.

It is usually abundant in lawns during the spring and early summer. I can usually spot them from a distance by noticing round dark green patches in lawns. Many of the lawns on Main Street in Greenville had them this year. They are great just simply chopped up fresh and mixed with some scrambled eggs. If you want to preserve them, you can dry them very easily by placing them in the sun on a piece of paper.

Here is the link to the Marasmius oreades mushroom on the Mykoweb website: Marasmius oreades