Howdy fungi folks!
This’ll just be a quick post to say a belated “Thanks!” to the fine people at Bullygoth Farm, who recently hosted super group of enthusiastic myco-newbies on their land, and invited me to lead the mushroom excursion portion of the workshop. Sacha and Jimmy were gracious hosts and made the whole experience a blast!
Alongside numerous LBMs and other small, delicate, gilled mushrooms, some of the highlights were the chance to encounter Cheese polypores, Red waxy caps, Chaga, Laccaria orchropurpurea , a clump of coral mushrooms (too far munched by forest beasties to narrow the field on that one) and one lonely chanterelle (sidenote: a recent walk in the Fundy Spores forest also turned up a singular orange fruiting body: a sign of hope, but certainly not the abundance some people are lucky enough to come across at this time of year!). Although we didn’t see it on the group walk, the previous evening Sacha and I even spotted our bioregion’s most notorious mushroom; the (deservingly-named) Destroying Angel.
Beautiful and deadly, there are a small handful of closely related Amanita species that are collectively known by this colloquial name.
Beginners to mushroom foraging are best to stay away from eating any mushrooms that are white with white gills, and are warned to avoid eating small white button mushrooms (like Horse and Meadow mushrooms) before they have developed enough to be identified with certainty. Admittedly I’ve consumed some oyster mushroom relatives with white flesh and gills and lived to tell the tale, but that was after observing the species and its seasonal re-emergence, doing a lot of research, and taking spore prints to be sure. Even after all that, I still followed the best practices of keeping samples aside in case I did get sick, to expedite treatment should it become medically necessary (or in the worst case, provide evidence as to the possible cause of my demise). One such example is known by the common name “Angel’s Wings” and while it’s not a relative of these Amanitas, and is sometimes listed as edible, there have been some cases of illness linked to its consumption.
Puffball mushroom collectors should also be sure to cut each specimen in half and make sure that the inside is all spongey like a marshmellow, and does not contain the body of a developing Amanita inside (the young Destroying Angel is enveloped by a “universal veil”, essentially making it look like a little white mushroom ball).
Watch this space for more about poisonous fungi, soon to come!
If you’d like to book a guided mushroom walk on land that you’re connected to (can be privately-managed woods or local public forests), contact us!
Thanks also to all the participants who attended and made the mushroom walk such a success — I loved sharing our common passion for mushrooms and ecology together!
Until next time, stay wild!