More Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms from Eastern North America
Short descriptions of a variety of edible and poisonous fungal species found in the woods of Western Michigan, USA

More Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms from Eastern North America

By tych0_21 | MyMiscellaneousBlog | 18 Oct 2021


Hello all! I'm here to share some pictures of my most recent finds while hunting for mushrooms in the woods of Western Michigan, USA. This time of the year in Eastern North America is an excellent time to be hunting for edible fungi. While many fungi growing in these woods can be safely enjoyed at the table, many more are either unpalatable or even dangerous to consume.

Please exercise caution if you choose to forage any wild mushroom species, and consult the opinion of an expert before eating anything that you bring home for yourself or others. Do not eat anything for which you are not 100% sure of its identity!

 


EDIBLE

 

 

Golden Oyster (Pleurotus citrinopileatus):

The Golden Oyster is a species non-native to the woods of Eastern North America. Originally introduced to the region by specialist mushroom cultivators in the 1990's, the species escaped into the wild some time in the early 2000s. Golden oysters are a choice edible fungal species that are native to the subtropical hardwood forests of eastern Russia, northern China, and Japan where they have traditionally been cultivated for both medicinal and culinary use.

I was surprised to find this small fruiting of Golden Oysters, not because they are rare (in fact they have spread quiet prolifically across the Northeastern quadrant of the United States), but rather because they typically fruit in the spring and summer months. To find them this late in the year is a relatively abnormal find. If you would like to learn more about Golden Oysters, please see this post I made on the species a little over one month ago: https://peakd.com/hive-166168/@tych021/mushroom-monday-welcome-invaders-golden-oyster.

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Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea):

The Giant Puffball is a conspicuous fungal species that is widespread and fairly common in meadows, fields, and deciduous forests of temperate regions across the globe. Single specimens typically range between 10 to 50 cm in diameter, though samples up to 150 cm have been reported. The interior of giant puffballs are pure white when immature and progressively become more greenish-brown with age. Immature specimens are edible so long as the interior is pure white; once the interior begins to discolor, the flavor will be sour and distasteful. Each sample should be sliced in half to check its maturity if it is intended to be brought home for the table.

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Aborted Entoloma (Entoloma abortivum):

Aborted Entoloma, also known as "shrimp of the woods," is a fascinating edible fungal species and one of my personal favorites. Although it is admittedly not the most visually appealing fungi, fresh Aborted Entoloma is a delicious substitute for shellfish in any dish. This spongey-white structure is thought to result from the species parasitizing Honey Mushrooms (Armillaria mellea). It is not uncommon to find Aborted Entoloma and Honey Mushrooms growing side-by-side.

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"Unaborted" variety of Aborted Entoloma

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Aborted Entoloma growing next to Honey Mushrooms

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Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus):

Chicken of the woods is one of the most easily recognizable and conspicuous edible fungi native to both Eastern North America as well as Europe. Living as either a parasite on living trees or as a saprophyte on dead logs and stumps, Chicken of the Woods typically fruits from hardwood species as large, bright orange, shelf-like structures with bright yellow margins and undersides that possess many pores rather than gills.

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Hen of the Woods (Grifola Frondosa):

Hen of the Woods is a perennial fungal species that almost exclusively fruits from the base of oak trees in both Eastern North America as well as Europe and China. The species is also commonly known as Maitake or Ram's Head. The species typically fruits in the months of September and October and can reliably be found at the base of the same tree for several successive years. I personally enjoy this earthy edible fungi in msuhroom risotto.

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Pan frying Hen of the Woods

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Mushroom risotto using Hen of the Woods

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Honey Mushroom (Armillaria Mellea):

Honey Mushrooms are another common fall fungal species that often fruits from the base of trees. The growth pattern of these species is cespitose, a term used by mycologists to refer to mushrooms that grow in dense clumps or clusters with their stems tapering and joining together at their base. While primarily acting as aggressive white-rot parasites on hardwood trees, honey mushrooms also act as saprotrophs digesting dead wood littered across forest floors. Even when not fruiting, evidence of honey mushrooms can be observed year-round by the presence of thick, black cord-like structures called rhizomorphs that allow the organism to spread across forest floors in search of new food sources. Once conditions are right, this species often fruits in prolific numbers.

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POISONOUS

 

 

Yellow American Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria guessowii):

The Yellow American Fly Agaric is a regional variety of the widely distributed species, Amanita muscaria: arguably the most recognizable fungal species on earth. While Fly Agaric is typically depicted with a bright red cap, the guessowii variety possesses a yellow cap and is native to the northeastern United States and Southern Canada. Despite this notable difference, the Yellow American Fly Agaric is similarly toxic and psychoactive to its related varieties, though parboiling the mushroom prior to eating seems to effectively denature most toxic and psychoactive compounds found within the species. The compounds most directly responsible for the hallucinogenic effects of consuming this species are thought to be ibotenic acid and muscimol. The species has a long history of religious and spiritual use as an intoxicant and entheogen by the indigenous peoples of Siberia and by the Sámi peoples of modern-day Scandinavia.

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Big Laughing Gym (Gymnopilus junonius):

The Big Laughing Gym is a large orange-brown species that typically grows from dead logs, stumps, and the bases of trees between the months of August and October. Another name for this species is the "Spectacular rustgill" due to some subspecies containing the hallucinogenic compound psilocybin. Even for those interested in taking advantage of this naturally occurring source of psilocybin, ingesting this species in highly discouraged as it also contains neurotoxic compounds known as gymnopilins. While the specific neurotoxic action of gymnopilins is still being studied, for those who have been brave (or foolish) enough to have consumed this species, reports commonly indicate that one is more likely to become ill than to hallucinate when consuming this mushroom.

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Great Felt Skirt Amanita (Amanita magnivelaris):

The Great Felt Skirt Amanita is a member of the pure-white or nearly pure-white species of the Amanita genus commonly referred to as the "Destroying Angels." Containing the deadly toxic compounds known as amatoxins, Destroying Angels are among the most deadly fungal species known to man. Amatoxins refer to a group of compounds that inhibit the RNA Polymerase II, an enzyme vital to the synthesis of messenger RNA (mRNA). Without mRNA, protein synthesis cannot occur and cellular metabolism grinds of a halt. Consuming only a few grams of mushrooms containing amatoxins may lead to death. There are no known antidotes for amatoxin poisoning. While handling these species is considered to be safe, NEVER consume any species that resembles the one pictured below. Typically, members of the Amanita genus possess both a ring (annulus) attached to the stem (stipe) as well as a sack (vulva) at the base of the fruiting body.

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If you have any questions about the species discussed in this post or any others mentioned in my other posts, please feel free to reach out! I have recently been certified by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as an Expert Mushroom identifier and would be happy to offer my knowledge to others. Thank you!

 


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tych0_21
tych0_21

Digital artwork, mapping, music, history, environmental sciences, and short written pieces.


MyMiscellaneousBlog
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