Fourth Issue, May, 1999
Published about twice a year from Greenville, California
by Herman Brown



The Hericium

Because of the somewhat dry weather, the first half of this year did not produce many mushrooms in this area. Only a few were worth noting. The best hunting I had was on a trip this winter to Santa Barbara. This trip gave me a large basket of the Golden Chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius) and a very large Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus). Both were cooked up immediately after we got back and gave us some very tasty treats.

Both mushrooms are found in this area. I found the Hericium here last year, but so far have only found the White Chanterelle (C. subalbidus).

One mushroom in late November of last year was a new one for me, the Phlogiotis helvelloides (Apricot Jelly Mushroom.) Another new one this winter was the Pseudohydnum gelatinosum (Toothed Jelly Mushroom.) Both are considered edible, but with little or no taste. The Apricot Jelly Mushroom looked like a small red flower from the distance. The brownish-gray Toothed Jelly Mushroom is noted for the small teeth covering the entire mushroom. It was the only mushroom I found after the first snow. It looked like a severed tongue.

Findings, May (top)

Gyromitra montanum  Mike Wood
Gyromitra montanum, Michael Wood

By May, most of the snow had melted around the area, and I concentrated on trying to find the Snow Mushrooms (Gyromitra montana), and hopefully, some morels. The Snow Mushrooms are the ones that, when small, look like walnuts next to the snow. I wanted to gather enough for a meal this time.

I didn’t find anything in town, but received a tip about some mushrooms that by their description sounded like Snow Mushrooms, were spotted at a higher elevation, around 5100 ft..

I found a few Snow Mushrooms (one the size of a softball), saw a few scattered of the Snow bank Orange Peel Fungus (Caloscypha fulgens), and also collected a couple of the Pig’s Ear mushrooms (Discina perlata), the brown, flat mushrooms that look like flattened cup fungi.

I cooked up the Snow Mushrooms in a little olive oil and thought they tasted pretty good. I wanted to wait until I later found a bigger batch of Pig’s ears before I tried eating them. When I returned to the area, I found enough of them to make an omelet. They tasted so good that I think I will be very happy if I find more!

We also found two small Yellow Coral Mushrooms, which probably are the Ramaria rasilispora. I didn’t try to eat any of these. They were packed with dirt and looked like they would be much too hard to clean.

In all of the trips to the same area, I only found a few small morels. But on one trip closer to town, I found one large morel that made up for all that I didn’t find. Here is that account from my log:

Thursday, May 20th: Late this afternoon I decided to go up the mountain.

I thought I'd look around for more Snow Mushrooms. I didn't find any. Just before I got back to where I parked the truck, I spotted a large patch of green under some pines and decided to walk towards it. On the way, I spotted a bright red snow plant just emerging from the duff. As I got closer, I spotted more and more snow plants, and I felt this might be a good spot to look for fungi fruitings.

There it was. A solitary black sentinel, a wrinkled conehead, a fairly large Black Morel. It seemed to be standing at attention waiting patiently for me to notice it. When I moved it slightly to see if it was getting too old to pick, it broke cleanly from the soil. I decided this was the biggest AND freshest I had ever found. It turned out to be 5 1/4" tall and 2 1/4" wide.

I made a delicious omelet with it, accompanied by a sole Shitake from the garden I had picked earlier from an old buried mushroom log I had received as a birthday present, but which never produced much.

Finding one good morel is probably as good or better than finding several small puny ones.

Read this (top)

The following is an excerpt from an editorial by Michael Boom (with his permission) from the Mycena News, the newsletter for the San Francisco Mycological Society.

I think anyone who picks mushrooms in the wild should read it very thoughtfully.

From his column Editor's Rant, February 1998:

  1. Uprooting, overturning, and smashing mushrooms that you don't want is wasteful. A mushroom stands upright so that it can drop spores and protect its spore-bearing underside from the rain. An upside-down waterlogged mushroom is not a successful spore disperser, and is ruined for anyone who wants to examine it closely, photograph it, or eat it if it's edible. If you pick a mushroom to examine it and decide you don't need it, put it back in the ground stem down so it looks like it was never picked. Better yet, feel the mushroom before you pick it. If you're looking for boletes and feel gills under the cap, there's no need to pick it.
  2. Leaving holes in the duff is a good way to dry out and harm the mycelium in dry weather. If you pick up duff to check out a mushrump, put the duff back when you're done. A moist, healthy mycelium produces more mushrooms than a dry, shriveled mycelium.
  3. Trashing unwanted mushrooms looks like hell. Even if it's not environmentally damaging (the worms will eventually eat up the trashed mushrooms), it's esthetically damaging, and let's face it: most of us are out in the woods to enjoy the beauty of our experience. Mushroomers making a mess of fungi in the woods can kick up resentment, something that inevitably blows up in our faces when land- use authorities hold hearings on whether or not to allow mushroom picking.
  4. Leaving your mushroom trimmings uncovered tells the rest of the world what you've been up to. If you want everyone to know exactly where you found each mushroom and just when you've been there, then by all means leave your trimmings in plain sight. If you'd rather keep it a private experience and picking spot, bury the trimmings under the duff.

The upshot of the matter is this: making sure you leave no trace of your mushroom picking helps you, your fellow mushroom hunters, and the mushrooms themselves. Be an artist when you pick, and if you see someone rooting like a pig, see if you can enlighten them.

Here's hoping your hunting is fruitful as well as artful.

- Michael Boom

Autumn List (top)

The following is an updated list of most of the mushrooms I believe I have found here during the autumn months of September, October, and November.

This list includes those found near here during the fall of 1997 and 1998:

Agaricus bitorquis, Tork (edible and choice)
Albatrellus avellaneus. Sheep Polypore (edible)
Albatrellus ellisii. Greening Goat's Foot (edible)
Amanita muscaria, Fly Agaric (poisonous)
Amanita silvicola, Western Woodland Amanita (edibility unknown)
Amanita vaginata, Grisette (edible)
Armillaria albolanaripes, Sheathed Armillaria (edible)
Armillariella mellea, Honey Mushroom (edible and choice)
Boletopsis subsquamosa, Kurokawa (edible)
Boletus aereus, Queen Bolete (edible and choice)
Boletus brevipes, Short-Stemmed Slippery Jack (edible and good)
Boletus erythropus (poisonous to some)
Boletus pinophilus, King Bolete (edible and choice)
Boletus regius, Red-capped Boletus (edible)
Boletus subtomentosus, Boring Brown Bolete (edible)
Boletus zelleri, Zeller's Boltete (edible)
Cantharellus subalbidus, White Chanterelle (edible and choice)
Chroogomphus psuedovinicolor, Robust Pine Spike (edible)
Chroogomphus rutilus, Pine Spike (edible)
Clavariadelphus truncatus, Truncate Club Coral (edible)
Coprinus comatus, Shaggy Mane (edible and good)
Cortinarius sanguineus, Blood-red Cortinarius (edibility unknown)
Gomphidius glutonosus, Glutinous Gomphidius (edible)
Gomphidius subroseus, Rosy Gomphidius (edible)
Gomphus floccosus, Wooly Chanterelle, Scaly Chanterelle (not recommended)
Hebeloma crustuliniforme, Poison Pie (poisonous)
Hericium erinaceus, Lion's Mane (edible)
Hydnellum peckii, Strawberries and Cream (inedible)
Hydnum imbricatum, Shingled Hedgehogm, Hawks Wing (edible)
Hygrophorus agathosmus, Gray Almond Waxy cap (edible)
Hygrophorus eburneus, Cowboy's Handkerchief (edible)
Hygrophorus gliocyclus, Glutinous Waxy Cap (edible)
Hygrophorus pudorinus, Spruce Waxy Cap (edible)
Inocybe sororia, Corn Silk Inocybe (poisonous)
Lactarius deliciosus, Delicious Milk Cap, Saffron Milk Cap, Sanguinine (edible and good)
Lactarius rubrilacteus, Bleeding Mik Cap, Sanquinine (edible and good)
Lepiota castenea, Petite Parasol (poisonous)
Leucopaxillus albissimus, Large White Leucopaxillus (not recommended)
Leucopaxillus amarus, Bitter Brown Leucopaxillus (inedible)
Melanoleuca melaleuca (edible)
Naematoloma capnoides, Conifer Tuft (edible)
Naematoloma fascinulare, Sulfur Tuft (poisonous)
Phlogiotis helvelloides, Apricot Jelly Mushroom (edible)
Pluerotus ostreatus, Oyster Mushroom (edible and good)
Pluteus cervinusDeer Mushroom (edible)
Polyporus elegans, Black Foot (inedible)
Ramaria strasserii, Coral Mushroom (edible)
Russula albonigra, Blackening Russula (not recommended)
Russula rosacea, Rosy Russula (to be avoided)
Russula xerampelina, Shrimp Russula (edible)
Strobilomyces floccopus, Old Man of the Woods (edible)
Suillus lakei, Western Painted Suillus (edible)
Suillus pungens, Pungent Slippery Jack (edible)
Tricholoma flavovirens, Man on Horseback (edible)
Tricholoma leucophyllum (edible)
Tricholoma saponaceum, Soapy Tricholoma (inedible)

The added words "and choice" and "and good" are my own additions for most of those that I have tasted.

Last Issues Update (top)

Because autumn is just around the corner, here is more information about some of those mushrooms I have found here during that period:

Russula xerampelina (Shrimp Russula) This mushroom is mainly characterized by its shrimp-like odor when mature. Other distinctive characteristics include a brittle stalk that breaks like chalk, cap viscid when wet, a reddish tinged stalk that usually stains yellow, then brown or grayish when handled or bruised, yellow spore print, mild taste, and gills that turn brown to gray with age. The color is EXTREMELY variable which can make field identification very difficult. They can be can be found with caps that are described in David Arora's Mushrooms Demystified as "red to dark red, purple, or brownish-olive, but often laced with (or sometimes entirely) green, brown, yellow-brown, purple-brown, etc. "

I usually grab an older, big one and smell it first. If it smells fishy, I give it a taste. If it tastes mild, I will take some home to see if the other characteristics appear. I always recheck my books. Because they were so plentiful last year in certain areas, I usually just went back to the same area where I had picked them before.

Of all the russulas, it is perhaps the best flavored and best textured, especially the young buttons. Remember, because some mild tasting russulas can make you sick, BE SURE OF YOUR IDENTIFICATION!

Albatrellus ellisii (Greening Goat's Foot) This is another mushroom that doesn't budge when you nudge it. It is a very firm-fleshed polyporaceae, where the pores (usually) do not separate easily from the cap. I found it here on the ground under some pines near Round Valley Lake.

The caps were yellow-brown with an off-center stalk and white decurrent pores that stained yellow green when I rubbed them. The spore print was white.

David Arora's book, Mushrooms Demystified lists it as edible with a mild flavor and pleasantly chewy texture. So, always willing to try a taste, I tried cooking some following the preparation suggestions from the book (i.e., cooking slowly and thoroughly). I added beef broth to allow me to leave it simmer in a covered pan while I tended to other matters.

It tasted okay.

Boletus zelleri (Zellers bolete) This is a very distinctive edible bolete, with its black cap, red stalk, and yellow pores. There is nothing that grows around here that comes close to that description, so it is fairly easy to identify (check your books though!). I have found most of mine north of town.

It is listed as edible and highly rated by some, but Arora feels that it cooks up slimy and insipid. I think, like all mushrooms, it depends on where they are picked. The ones I picked here tasted okay to me, and I will probably try them again.

Suillus brevipes (Short-stemmed Slippery Jack) The Suillus genus is usually characterized by the slimy cap and glandular dots on the stalk. The S. brevipes that grows around here is no exception. As its name implies, it has a short stalk which is usually very firm. The caps of the ones I find here were dark brown to yellow brown and very slimy when moist. The pores are usually white when young, are somewhat small, do not stain blue, and there is never a veil present. The flesh is firm and almost white when young.

It is probably the best of our slippery jacks here, as long as you peel the skin before cooking it.

I'd imagine they would also be good if cooked using the following recipe for cooking boletes:.

A Recipe for Cooking Boletes

Here is the picture John sent me of some of the boletes that he uses for his recipe (probably B. pinophilus)

I received the following from John Laugenour, who spends much of the non-winter months foraging for mushrooms south of Quincy:

Our favorite way to serve Boletes (Kings) is to slice them 3/8 inch thick, dip them in egg, beer and bread crumbs. We then just brown them in butter, place them on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

We serve them with cocktails. They have the texture of oysters. I think you would like them.

Make sure of Your Identification, Part III

Part of the identification process is making a note (paper or mental) of the conditions where you found a new mushroom: side of road, grassy area, forest, what it was growing in (earth, tree), what it was growing with (type of trees), and for later reference, what time of the year and the location where you found it. Each bit of information will make it easier to make an accurate identification and find it again the following year.

Another important thing to remember is to try to limit the number of new mushrooms each trip. The first time I started finding mushrooms in this area, I was so impressed by the number of unrecognized mushrooms, that I easily filled my basket! The problem is, is that keying new mushrooms can be a slow, tedious process, especially for an amateur like me.

So I only identified four or five new ones that day.

Here is some information I copied (with permission) from the book, Identifying Mushrooms to Genus I: Macroscopic features, 2nd edition, by Dr. Largent, Mad River Press:

In order to identify fungi, one must be able to understand the features used for this purpose. Since the mycelium of the various species of fungi are so similar to one another the features of the fruiting body are used exclusively for those fungi that form this structure.

Almost every conceivable feature of the fruiting body has been used to identify the various species: macroscopic features, features visible only with the aid of a microscope, the reaction of the fruiting body to various chemical reagents, and even the detection of special compounds using paper chromatography. Obviously, some features are more easily used, and give more useful information than others. The novice will be able to tell which mushrooms are poisonous and which are edible by learning no more than spore color and macroscopic characteristics, and this book is designed to teach him how to accomplish this.

Though the book is pretty technical, I would recommend getting a copy of it if you are serious about eating or keying new mushrooms. You can order the book directly from the publisher. To obtain the latest edition of the book, or a catalog which includes several reference books pertaining to natural history and many books just on mushrooms, you can contact the publisher at:

Mad River Press
141 Carter Lane
Eureka, CA 95503-9549

Featured Mushroom, Ramaria botrytis (Pink-Tipped Coral Mushroom)

For this issue I decided to feature the Pink-Tipped Coral Mushroom or Ramaria botrytis. I really want to talk about the R. strasseri, which is similar but has tan-colored tips, and is the one that I have found here. However, the R. botrytis is usually the mushroom you find when you go through the keying process. The R. strasseri is listed in the comments section of the R. botrytis.

As I mentioned in a previous issue, the R. strasseri looks much more like cauliflower then the Cauliflower Mushroom (Sparassis crispa). I think the pictures I have seen for the Cauliflower Mushroom make it look more like a plate of linguini pasta.

I have found the R. strasseri almost everywhere around here

It is listed as edible (and choice, in some books) but may have laxative effects on some individuals.

I cooked up a small batch, discarding the tips as suggested in one book, and found the taste and texture to somewhat like crab meat. I did not have any ill effects from eating it. I will collect more when I find it again.

Here is the link to the Ramaria botrytis mushroom on the Mykoweb website: Ramaria botrytis