Second Issue, October, 1998
Published about twice a year from Greenville, California
by Herman Brown


Mushroom News?

In my first issue, I asked for suggestions for a different name for this newsletter. Here are the names as offered by a few respondents:

  • Mushroom Mews, Mushroom a-Muse (Hadas Parag and friend, Santa Barbara, CA)
  • Mountain Mushrooms, California Mountain Mushrooms, Call of the Wild Mushrooms, California Wild Mushroom Madness, Brown's Wild Mushroom Bonanza (Robert Kerekes, Quartz Hill, CA)
  • 'Shroom Times, Fungi-zette, The Myko-Conspirator (Bill Tomlin, Santa Barbara, CA)
  • Fungi Follies, Basidia Banter, Mushroom Talk, Gilled (something) Gazette (Stephen Matteson, San Luis Obispo, CA)
  • Fungi-Free Press (Joseph Narkevitz, Santa Barbara, CA)

If you have any more to add, or prefer any from the list, please let me know. So far I kind of like Bill Tomlin's Fungi-zette the best.

Last Issue Update (top)

In the last issue, I listed many of the mushrooms I found during last fall to this summer, but I failed to talk much about them. Here are a few of my observations about some of the more distinctive from the list:

Agaricus bitorquis (Tork). This brown-gilled mushroom closely resembles the meadow mushroom (A. campestris), which is supposedly common in this area (although I have not yet identified any). The main difference is in its habitat and texture. The A. bitorquis usually develops below hard ground, and eventually breaks open the earth, revealing a dirty, firm mushroom. The texture of the bitorquis is probably the firmest of all of the Agaricus and is one of my favorites to find (and eat). The one I found in this area was on a gravel road, but it tasted like some oil or some chemical may have been placed on the road. It also could be that I misidentified it, as the Agaricus are one of the hardest genus for me to key.

Boletus aereus (Queen Bolete) and the Boletus edulis (Porcini, King Bolete). Both of these boletes are sought after because of their firm flesh when fresh and their nutty flavor, especially after drying. They both are characterized by a viscid cap, small, white pores when young that turn yellow with age, tan to reddish-brown cap (dark brown to black in the aereus), non-staining white flesh, finely reticulated, usually bulbous stalk, somewhat large size, and preference in this area for a pine duff habitat. The B. aereus also has a whitish bloom on its cap when young.

However, I think that the ones that I have found here cook up rather bland and slimy. In some books, the fall B. edulis from the Northern Sierras is thought to be a distinct specie, but in the spring, there is the B. pinicola or B. pinophilus (and an occasional B. aereus). That may account for the different taste and texture of the fall edulis. It could also be that I do not know how to cook them. I have tried many methods, and find that the young ones are not as slimy, but often too crunchy.

Any recipes or techniques for cooking them?

Boletus abieticola (Fir Butter Bolete). This bolete is mostly yellow: yellow flesh, stalk, and pores. The cap can be yellow-brown to light red, sometimes with reddish stains or overtones. The flesh is VERY firm and dense, and will stain blue slowly when cut. The stalk is usually bulbous like the B. edulis.

This is perhaps the firmest bolete that I have ever eaten. The taste is not as known as being as nutty flavored as the edulis and aereus, but because I have not noticed the nutty flavor in the B. aereus here, I find little difference in taste. It doesn't cook up slimy though. I found mine north of town..

Boletus regius (Red-Capped Bolete). This bolete is noted by its red cap, firm yellow flesh that blues slowly, yellow pores, and large, thick, reticulate stem. It is supposed to be edible and popular, although I have not yet tried it. The one I found last year was too old. I have tried to find it this year, but so far no success.

Hericium erinaceus (Lion's Mane). This mushroom falls into the category of the Teeth Fungi. It grows out of the side of trees, both living and recently cut, and is characterized by its mass of numerous long, closely-packed, icicle-like spines hanging from a tough, hairy, rooting cushion of issue. It is white when fresh, although I usually find it when it is older and yellowish. The flesh is also white. I have tried it, and the taste varies considerably with the age of the mushroom. I have yet to find a very fresh one, but when fresh, it is supposed to be excellent, with a taste and texture a little like crab meat. I have only found one here in town. That one was too old to cook.

Hydnum imbricatum (Shingled Hedgehog). This mushroom also falls into the category of the Teeth Fungi. Instead of gills, the underside of the cap is composed of thousands of short spines, or teeth. The H. imbricatum is characterized by those spines and its brownish cap which is covered with darker, nearly black, large, scales. I have seen them at Canyon Dam. They are supposed to be edible and of poor quality, but I found them pretty good tasting. However, it is a very striking mushroom, and the texture alone makes it worth collecting.

Lactarius deliciosus (Delicious Milk Cap) and Lactarius rubilacteus (Bleeding Milk Cap). These orange, gilled mushrooms both seem to give off what looks like blood when you cut any part of them, and one of the two is probably better known as the "Sanguinine" by many is this area because if its red-colored blood (latex) . I assume this one is the L. rublicateus, as it is the one in my book listed with the red-colored latex. The L. deliciosus has more of a carrot-colored latex. Both are orange when fresh and both stain green. I have eaten the L. deliciosus from Santa Barbara, but I did not like the texture. Because I have heard the one with the red latex is often sought after, I tried them again and was pleasantly surprised. The one with the red-colored latex is supposed to be even better tasting than the one with the carrot-colored latex.

Pleurotus ostreatus (Oyster Mushroom. One of the last mushrooms to fruit in the fall, this gilled mushroom is characterized by its growing out of the side of live, dead, or dying trees, white to grayish- brown cap, short, white, off-center stem (if any), white spores, and decurrent gills which turn yellow in age. It is prized by many and in the wild, can get to be pretty large (compared to the store-bought ones). I am not particularly fond of it, but I think it is because of where I found the ones I cooked - in dead California Bay Laurel trees. Here I found one coming out of the side of a dead cedar and another out of the side of a dead conifer of some kind. I haven't tried any from here yet, as the ones I found were too old.

Make sure of Your Identification, Part II (top)

In my first issue, I talked a bit about the importance of field characteristics, and how they can be used to identify a mushroom and maybe save your life. I mentioned how to get a spore print to determine the color of the spores.

Obtaining a spore print is only the first of many characteristics you will need to identify a new mushroom. To make an example, let me tell you how I finally identified some large, white mushrooms I found this summer growing out of the side of a conifer stump. These were found near Dominguez Springs. The first thing I did was to open my mushroom bible, or rather, book, Mushrooms Demystified, by David Arora. In the front part of the book is a dichotomous key that gets me to the first part of the search. Dichotomous keys consist of contrasting paired statements (couplets) that lead you through the identification process, depending on each of your answers.

Because this mushrooms had gills, I went directly to the page for the key for gilled mushrooms, the Agaricales. The first question pair had to do with whether or not I could obtain a spore print, which I could, so I was led to question pair 2.

These questions asked whether or not the spore print was white to buff, yellow, yellow-orange, or lilac-tinged. In this case, the spore print was white, so that led me to question pair 3. In fact, I didn't have to take it home for a spore print - the ground was covered with the white spores directly under where I picked it from the tree.

Question pair 3 asked whether or not there was a volva (sac) at the base of the stalk (like the amanita), which their wasn't. This illustrates the point that you should always try to pick the whole part of the mushroom when you are gathering it for the first time. If I had cut it at the base, I would have had to stop at this question pair. The fact that it had no volva present led me to question pair 4.

Question pair 4 had to do with whether or not the gills were free (not attached to the stalk) AND a veil present. The gills of this mushroom were decurrent (running down the stalk), so that led me to question pair 6.

Question pair 6 essentially asked whether the gills were fold-like (like a chanterelle) or bladelike. The gills in this mushroom were bladelike, so that led me to question pair 7.

Question pair 7 had to do with whether or not there was latex present when the flesh was broken (like with the Lactarius), which there wasn't, so that led me to question pair 8.

Question pair 8 had to do with whether or not the flesh broke like chalk, as in the russulas, which it didn't, so that led me to question pair 9.

This pair asked about the gills being waxy or not, which they weren't, which led me to the Tricholomacea section of the book.

In that section, more questions and answers finally led me to a mushroom that actually fit the description of what I had found, a Lentinus ponderosus.

Because the detailed description and picture matched what I had collected, and it was listed as edible, I cooked them up and ate some. Not bad but a little tough.

The purpose of all of this is to show how important it is to be able to identify the different characteristics and to know what the terms mean.

Once you find the mushroom in the book, there will sometimes be a picture, but always a complete description of it. If it fits, then you probably have found it. Usually, if there are lookalikes that may be dangerous, the description will tell you about those mushrooms.


Findings, Early Fall, 1998 (top)

By August in Quincy, the delicious Fairy Ring mushrooms (Marasmius oreades, and the first issue's featured mushroom) were already popping out in the lawns around the town.

They should appear in almost any grassy area, but so far I have only found them in this area in lawns. This year I hope to collect many and dry them for future use.

The following are notes from e-mail letters I had sent to some friends who live out of this area. For those who received those messages, please excuse the repetition:

Monday, September 9: Today, at about 4:30pm, I decided to see if the recent rains had brought out anything. I wasn't disappointed. Cecelia and I walked for about an hour through the forest north of town.

The first thing we found looked like a yellow truffle that had washed away from the side of a dirt road. It was as loose as a small rock. We found several more of the same, and put a few in the basket. Next, we found some white similar ones which I thought were just younger specimens of the same.

The white ones turned out to be more like all-white puffballs, but with NO skin that I could measure. The others looked like earthballs, with a skin about .06 inches thick and with firmer, greenish-yellow flesh. The white ones had a distinct fragrance, but I didn't notice any on the yellow ones.

I wasn't able to key out any of these.

Then we found several of the Scaly Chanterelles, the Gomphus floccosus. I collected a few this time because I wanted to see what they tasted like. We found a few of the very slimy Gomphidius oregonensis and put two in the basket, again to see what they tasted like. These have the orange-brown cap and bright yellow color at the lower part of the stalk.

As we continued to walk, we found many more of the Gomphus, some of the Polyporus decurrens, an Amanita vaginata (Grissette, which I will not yet try to taste), and what appeared to be a very firm white-fleshed bolete, but later keyed out as a Boletopsis subsquamosa (Kurokawa). The pores were so small and short to be almost non-existent. These mushrooms are supposed to be edible, but rather bitter.

I won't probably try this one yet.

We found two of a red-pored boletus, probably a B. erythropus. I won't try this one yet either. It is known to cause stomach problems in some people.

I even found some of the Strawberries and Cream mushrooms (Hydnellum peckii) with its bright red droplets. These mushrooms are toothed fungus related to the Hedgehog mushroom. They don't look edible and aren't.

I found a few others that were not too exciting, so I didn't key them out.

Not too bad for an hour!

Later that day, I found my first Porcini (Boletus aereus) of the season.

Tuesday, October, 6: After being away for a few days, I decided I had better check my spots to see if any new mushrooms had come up.

The first thing I found was a patch of huge Boletus aereus (10-12"). It's hard to imagine that they grew so big since I checked the same area on 9/28. Each had been pulled out and left behind by another mushroomer, probably because they (the aereus) had a few worms. I searched around the area and found about ten smaller ones (2-3") without worms. I later cleaned and cooked those in butter.

I also found one odd-looking Entoloma with a bulbous base, some puffballs, some earthballs, some white little things that looked like soft truffles, left behind by deer or squirrels, and at Canyon Dam, several fresh Gomphus floccosus, a better specimen of the Strawberries and Cream mushroom, more of the gigantic B. erythropus, more Boletopsis subsquamosa, and a few Lactarius deliciosus.

I hope we get more rain. Soon.

Thursday, October 7: Today, I concentrated on one area, going over it again as I did yesterday. I found more B. aereus (Queen bolete). These were mostly worm-free, so I cooked them all in batches according to size. It seems the real young ones are very crunchy. The older ones were better textured and tastier too. I think I will wait until the buttons I located earlier get about 4" in diameter. I also found what I think was a Shrimp Russula, or R. xerampelina. I first thought it was a R. emetica, but when I brought it home, I noticed a slight shrimp-like odor, yellow gills that stained brown, plus, it had a mild taste. It also had debris still clinging to its cap, indicating that it was viscid, at least when moist.

I cooked this up too, and after tasting it, I think I will start looking for them now that I know they taste good and what they look like in the field.

That is, if it IS a Shrimp Russula.

I picked a small Suillus, probably a young S. brevipes, and cooked this one up too. It wasn't too bad! Nice and firm texture.

I also found more of what looked like the Amanita vaginata (Grisette). I also found what looked like an underground puffball, but when cut, it showed the distinct outline of the amanita. Another actually showed the color and striations of the Grisette.

Saturday, October 10: Today, only 3 days after the last visit to the same place where I had gone over so carefully, I went back and found over two basketfuls' of B. aereus). I found one over 8 inches in diameter right in front of the place where I always park my truck!

I found and picked too many, but I thought I would dry the big ones. Some of the big ones had a few worm holes, but I cut out the trails and dried them after separating the pore mass. I dried this too to be used for making Arora's recipe for Essence of Edulis. Many of them had small slugs, but they didn't take much of the mushrooms.

To help protect the mycelium under the ground, I used my knife to carefully cut them off at the base. This also let me know if they had any worms.

I also picked several more of what I think are the Shrimp Russula.

Monday, October 12: I decided around 1pm to check out the other area near town and I found what at first looked like a scaly chanterelle, but without the scales. The mushroom was pretty dirty, and it broke up when I brushed off the pine needles. I felt it might be the real chanterelle.

White Chanterelles
Some White Chanterelles

Later, in another spot nearby, I found two of the same, and this time I recognized them as a chanterelle (C. cibarius), although they were much lighter colored than those found in S. B. Later, I identified them as the White Chanterelle (C. subalbidus).

I cleaned them off when I got home. I'll cook them up tonight!

I also found two of the Robust (I mean ROBUST!) Pine Spike buttons, the Chroogomphus pseudovinicolor. One had a stalk about 2" in diameter.

They both had a few worms (worms sound better than maggots), but enough clean meat to try them out. I'll cook them at the same time as the chanterelles.

Guess where I will be headed tomorrow!

Later that same day: I just finished eating the Robust Pine Spikes and some of the chanterelles.

The Pine Spikes were surprisingly delicious with a texture (I thought) better than the aereus, but not nearly as tasty as the chanterelles. I think chanterelles are the best tasting mushrooms I have ever found and eaten.

P.S. Do I need to remind you where I will be going tomorrow?

Tuesday, October 13: This time I took the big guns with me. Cecelia always sees things I don't seem to notice.

Cecelia found the first chanterelle, about 8" in diameter, right on the side of a dirt road. It was actually a cluster of them. She found the second cluster and the third. Right near where she found the last cluster, I finally found some. We almost filled the basket, and decided it was getting pretty late.

On the last part of the search, we found what looked very much like a cauliflower. There were several bunches, so I took a small one and large one home. When I looked up the Cauliflower Mushroom, it didn't fit. Looking through the Audubon Society Mushroom book, I saw a picture that looked more like it, the Ramaria botrytis, or Pink-tipped Coral Mushroom, only mine had denser, tan- colored branches. Arora's book also listed a R. strasseri, and it seemed to better fit the description. It was VERY meaty, with a texture very much like a chanterelle.

I tasted a chunk of it and it tasted mild, so I plan to cook it up tonight after cleaning the chanterelles.

Cecelia found the ramarias too.

I also found one Deer Mushroom (Pluteus cervinus) and a red-pored Bolete.

Earlier today, I found some of the orange-latex lactarius (L. deliciosus) to try, a B. zelleri, and only one B. aereus. I picked more of the red-capped russulas to get a good spore print. The ones I picked yesterday I left outside, hoping they would get the fishy odor. I am not sure if that is what they got.

Later that same day: I cooked up the ramaria and it tasted pretty good. I also cooked up some small Lactarius deliciosus, and they seemed to taste and feel much better than those I cooked in Santa Barbara.

Here is a message I got from my friend, Bob Kerekes, that I hope he doesn't mind that I pass on (Bob is one of the recipients of these daily reports):

Some day there will be a mushroom hunter's sanitarium where there will be experts on this uncommon malady, and professionals will write long treatises on the causes and cures of this non-productive behavior.

Wednesday, October 14: I went out today, specifically to find more of the Shrimp Russula to pickle, and besides the russulas, found some L. deliciosus and three small B. aereus.

I got a few good spore prints of the Russula, and they were all yellowish as hoped for. The caps were reddish-purple, and there was debris still clinging to them. The taste was mild, but, because they were pretty young, there was no shrimp odor.

Anyway, I cooked them up and they tasted very good. The texture was very good also. I kind of steamed them in a little olive oil and some dry sherry.

Along with the remnants of the ramaria, I pickled them all.

I sautéed and froze the chanterelles in preparation for a chicken dish with chanterelles, a recipe I got from a friend in Santa Barbara. (That recipe appears later in this issue)

Thursday, October 16: Today I went to another place that used to be pretty productive, but only found what looked like they might be young Suillus brevipes. I cooked them up in a little olive oil and seasoned salt when I got home. I ate the whole batch. Again, I thought they tasted pretty good.

Friday, October 17: This afternoon I decided to try and find a few more chanterelles to send to a friend.

After I found my first productive mound with a nice chanterelle in it, I noticed that I had no competition from other 'shroomers. The ground was undisturbed except for a few squirrel diggings.

Encouraged, I continued down that road, looking carefully at the duff on both sides of the road.

Every 10 feet or so, I would find more mounds and more chanterelles. One chanterelle was above ground and was about 6" in diameter. Another was in a hole partly dug out by a squirrel. Almost every mound yielded a chanterelle! I lifted a piece of bark to get at the base of one chanterelle, and found three more.

In one mound though, I found a Boletus aereus, my first from that area. I found more of the Ramaria botrytus, a Lactarius with large volumes of white milk, a white-fleshed bolete that was staying underground where the cap seemed to be receding from the puffy but minutely sized pores, and a Gomphidius oregonensis to try.

I also found a polypore, which I later identified as a Greening Goat's Foot (Albatrellus ellisii). It is supposed to be edible. The only thing about it is that mine didn't stain very green as the book says it should.

The small bolete stumps me. It has firm non-staining flesh like an edulis, white cap, bulbous base, tapered tap root, gray-green pores, even in the young ones, non-reticulate stem, and a mild taste. The flesh in the cap is almost non-existent - it has more pore surface than cap. The pores extend beyond the edge of the cap. It was entirely buried under the pine needle duff.

I doubt if it is poisonous. I will probably cook it and the Goat's Foot too.

Update: the small bolete turned out to be a Gastroboletus subalpinus

Saturday, October 18: Today I took a break from foraging in the forest and cooked up the small mysterious bolete, the Gomphidius oregonensis, and the Greening Goat's Foot.

The small bolete tasted like and had the texture of a young B. edulis. The Gomphidius was a bit slimy, but tasted okay. The Goat's Foot was exactly like Arora described it: "with a mild flavor and pleasantly chewy texture." That was surprising because it was so tough when I sliced it up to cook it. I thought it would be tough and dry. It wasn't. I did simmer it slowly and thoroughly as Arora suggested, and I added some beef broth so it wouldn't burn.

All had their merits. The bolete, I would collect. The Gomphidius, I would only gather if there weren't any other mushrooms to pick.

Same for the Goat's Foot.

Wednesday October 22: I found more chanterelles today. I think the chanterelles I am finding are really White Chanterelles (Cantharellus subalbidus). I notice they leave behind a white spore print when I take them out of the ground. The C. cibarius is supposed to have a more yellowish spore print.

I had given some to a friend who said she thought they had a bitter taste. She also said she felt dizzy after eating some.

I think it was really the wine she drank with them and may have cooked them in.

I have yet to find any bitter taste in the ones I have eaten, even raw, though they are supposed to be bitter tasting when eaten without being cooked.

I found an Amanita sivicola, a very pretty white amanita with volva patches everywhere.

I also found what looked like a polypore, but it had flesh and pores more like a bolete. However, the pores were yellowish, the flesh orange, the pore surface decurrent, pores kind of large, cap blackish, and spore print white. The pore surface was able to be separated from the cap.

I haven't been able to find it in Arora's book yet.

And the season isn't over yet!

A Recipe for Chanterelles (top)

The following is a recipe I received as a gift while in Santa Barbara. I used it for my first sack of chanterelles, which I received also a gift:

Chanterelles with Chicken

2 cups sliced chanterelles
1 whole chicken (cut into pieces)
2-3 tbs. butter
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 c sliced onions (optional)
1-2 c wine or sherry
Sour cream (optional)

Brown the chicken with salt and pepper and set aside.

Sauté mushrooms for about 10 minutes in butter, garlic, onions, and wine or sherry.

Put chicken in a baking dish and pour mushroom mixture over the top of the chicken.

Bake at 350ºF for about 45 minutes to an hour. If desired, top with sour cream before serving.

Featured Mushroom, Tricholoma flavovirens (Man on Horseback) (top)

This issue's featured mushroom is the Man on Horseback or Tricholoma flavovirens.

I have only found a few of these mushrooms here so far, but one place I did find it, it seemed to return the next year. They are noted by their viscid, yellow cap, yellow stem, yellow gills, and white spores. As they age, the cap becomes a light greenish-brown towards the center. I've even seen them along the side of roads, usually under pines.

David Arora, in his book Mushrooms Demystified, says this about the T. flavovirens:

Edible and excellent - one of the least appreciated and most flavorful or our fleshy fungi, though a few people are adversely affected by it.

I personally find it very tasty, and I am luckily not one of those who are adversely affected by it.

Here is the link to the Tricholoma flavovirens mushroom on the Mykoweb website: Mykoweb link to featured mushroom (name change)