Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A very orange bolete

Note the bright orange cuticle,
specially within the erosions.
North American Boletes: A Color Guide to the Fleshy Pored MushroomsAmong the many Boletes that we found on the last foray at Black Hills Regional Park were a couple very orange ones. The specimens we found were pretty mature and buggy but they were good enough for identification and still had a lot of the very orange color that was probably covering the whole pileus when it was young.
Date: 07/17/2011
Location: Black Hill Regional Park, Boyds, MDHabitat: solitary, growing on ground

Note the short stipe which is stained brown.
pileus diameter - 66 mm
pileus height - 16 mm
stipe length - 40 mm
stipe diameter at apex - 18 x 38 mm
stipe diameter at middle - 19 x 27 mm
stipe diameter at base - 10 x 14 mm

Pileus - irregularly shaped, somewhat flat, eroded,  erosions are bright orange while rest of cuticle is beige/tan, glabrous to velvety, context is white, smell is non-distinctive, taste is somewhat bitter
Hymenium - white/beige, with brown stains, bruises brown, pores are round to oval, tubes are 4.9 mm long
Stipe - compressed, central, solid (very buggy), tapering towards the base, white near the pore surface and stained brown with an orange tint near everywhere else. No ring or partial veil.
Spore print - not obtained

Note the brown stain at pore surface
and the brown stained stipe.
This seems to be a specimen of Tylopilus ballouii. I did not observe any context staining. Apart from this, all the rest of the characteristics fit well with the description for this species. The fact that it was bitter, the orange color and that it stains brown when bruised are all suggestive of T. baloluii (Burnt-Orange Bolete). This is considered to be an edible but is reported to be sometimes bitter.

Boletes of North America: A Color Guide to the Fleshy Pored Mushrooms, page 26

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Foray at Black Hill Regional Park (Boyds, MD)

Today I went to a foray organized by MAW at Black Hill Regional Park (thanks Mitch!). Perhaps because it was in Boyds and because the weather today was a little bit on the hot side (maxima of 38C), not many people showed up. On the other hand, maybe it was that fact that it had not rained much over the last few days, that we've been having almost daily temperatures on the 32-40C (90-100) range or it was just the disappointing results of the last foray at Lake Bernard Frank that dissuaded most people to come. In any case, it was unfortunate for those that missed it, and to my surprise, this time we found a very large variety (and I really mean large) of amanitas and boletes. Most of them were starting becoming infested by insects, but we had the chance of seeing mushrooms on all developmental stages. Indeed, I would say that this foray was a paradise for boletes afficionados, with boletes popping up everywhere (some the size of my cap). Some of the mushrooms that we think we could identify were Telephora vialis (Vase Telephore), Laetiporus cincinnatus (Chicken of the Woods), Boletus vermiculosoides, Scleroderma citrinum (Pigskin Poison Puffball), Tylopilus plumbeoviolaceous (Violet-gray Bolete), Boletus pallidus (Pale Bolete), Boletus carminiporus, Amanita flacoconia, Amanita brunnescens (Cleft-foor Amanita), Amanita citrina (Citron Amanita), Amanita flavorubescens (Yellow Blusher), Cantharellus lateritius (Smooth Chanterelles), Amanita virosa (Destroying Angel) and Stereum ostrea (False Turkey-tail). We also found some Lepiotas and russulas and some old polypores (as usual). Because bolete identification is challenging and because I am a complete newbie to it, I brought a few specimens home to try my best on them. The specimen I am going to describe was particularly interesting because it follows the general rule of bolete edibility (i.e. does not stain blue, does not have red pore surface and does not taste bitter).

Date: 07/23/2011
Location: Black Hill Regional Park, Boyds, MD
Habitat: Growing on soil, two specimens near each other, on oak forest

Note the bright yellow hymenium
that does not stain.
Pileus diameter - 56 mm
Pileus height - 15 mm
Stipe length - 61 mm
Stipe diameter at apex - 12 mm
Stipe diameter at middle - 12 mm
Stipe diamter at base - 14 mm tapering until 8 mm at the tip

Pileus - convex, smooth, dull, pale brown/beige, flesh is pale yellow, does not bruise when cut, odor is non-distinctive, taste is mild, perhaps slightly acidic.
Hymenium - bright yellow, does not stain, tubes are 3 mm long, pores are angular and approximately 0.6mm in diameter.
Stipe - central, nearly equal somewhat clavate, solid, light yellow, cuticle is glabrous and with shallow ribs, yellowish near the apex and brown near the base with a white tip at the far bottom, not reticulated, without ring or partial veil.

Note the clavate stipe with shallow
Most probably this mushroom is a Boletus innixus. Other look alikes are B. flaviporus and B. auriporus (which by the way was our first guess). B. innixus has a non-distinctive flavor and a short (3-6 cm long, 1-1.6 cm thick at apex and up to 2.5 cm at base) club shaped stout stipe (the measurements of my specimen could perhaps follow under this definition) while B. flaviporus is supposed to have an acidic flavor and to have a long (1-3 cm long), thick (1-3 cm) and nearly equal or tapered in either direction stipe (my specimen was nearly equal). Maybe more important, B. flaviporus is supposed to occur only in California and Oregon, while B. innixus is supposed to occur in the east coast. B. auriporus has appressed microfibrils on pileus and it stains brick-red (slowly) when bruised while B. flaviporus is subtomentose to glabrous and does not stain when bruised. The distinction between B. flaviporus and B. innixus is not obvious to me and it suggests that they may be the same mushroom (if anyone know of molecular evidence or any other type of morphological evidence that can clearly distinguish these two mushrooms, please enlighten me about it!). In any case, all three species are edible.

North American Boletes: A Color Guide to the Fleshy Pored Mushrooms, pages 95, 112 and 123

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chicken of the woods

A couple of days ago, while picking up my wife and daughter at a friend's apartment complex, our friend pointed out that she had seen a large mushroom in the vicinity. To my surprise it was a nice cluster of "chicken" (this is one of the reasons why it is good to let your friends know you pick mushrooms!). Although I had never eaten one before, I knew that this mushroom is very easy to identify, that it does not have many lookalikes and that it is considered a "choice" edible (all great characteristics for those willing to experiment on mycophagy). Furthermore I had examined a few specimens of other varieties of Laetiporus on previous MAW forays (always with some degree of envy). Luckily, the specimen I found was very fresh and soft and was large enough for a dinner for 3 (~1 pound). Not only I took it home but I also decided to give it a try in the kitchen. Therefore, on this post I'll describe the mushroom  and provide my little recipe.

Location: Rollins Park, Rockville, MD
Date: 07/19/2011
Habitat: Gregarious (2 specimens growing next to each other), growing on wood (roots of an oak tree) as a cluster.

Pileus: upper surface is soft, velvety, wrinkled, moist, orange-yellow (specially near the margins), with overlapping fan-shaped pilei with blunt and wavy margins.
Hymenium: pore surface is white, pores are very small and round, soft, does not bruise, flesh is white, soft. Flavor and smell are non-distinctive.
Stipe: absent
Spore print: not obtained

This is a specimen of Laetiporus sulphureus var semialbinus (aka Laetiporus cincinnatus). The classical L. sulphureus has a nice bright yellow color, while the semialbinus variety tends to be orange-yellow. There are almost no look alikes and the ones that exist are either bitter or two hard to eat. The mushroom is better eaten when young and soft, but older specimens can be eaten too (only the borders will be soft enough). There are some reports of people with intolerance to this mushroom and, therefore, it is suggested that one should approaches it with care the first time in the kitchen. Apart from that, this is a great edible and a good start for those willing to approach mycophagy for the first time. On another note, this mushrooms comes back year after year (try to remember where you found it and you will have food for many years) but it causes brown cubical rot on the tree which eventually leads to its death.

Roody W.C., Mushrooms of West Virginia and the Central Appalachians, pages 378-9
Miller, O.K and Miller, H, A Falcon Guide to North American Mushrooms, page 428

"Chicken" Stroganoff Recipe
- chicken of the woods
- 2 cloves of garlic (minced or sliced)
- 1 can of heavy cream (or 1 cup)
- 1 onion (minced) (optional)
- 1 table spoon of paprika
- 1 or 2 table spoons of olive oil
- salt and pepper

1) Wash the mushroom. Break the chicken in 1 inch pieces with your hands (if you have never done that, you'll understand why this mushroom is called chicken) and discard any parts that are too hard.
2) In a deep pan, add olive oil and garlic. Fry it until garlic starts to release its smell.
3) Add onion and fry it for 3 minutes, or until it starts to get golden.
4) Add chicken and pan fry it for 3 or 4 minutes, mixing gently.
5) Add heavy cream and paprika and cook it for another 2 or 3 minutes (or until the mushroom is soft and cooked). Add water if you prefer it less thick.
6) Season it with salt and pepper.
7) Serve it with rice and enjoy.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A purple mushroom

This little mushroom was growing alone on grass under oak trees near my home. It has a very nice dark purple color that is reminiscent of aubergines and has a nice chubby hemispheric cap that makes it a very cool specimen. Unfortunately it was damaged and very young when I found it.

Date: 07/17/2011
Location: Rollins Park, Rockville, MD
Habitat: Solitary, growing on grass under oak trees

Pileus diameter - 23.8 mm
Pileus height - 16.5 mm
Stipe lenght - 26 mm
Stipe diameter at apex - 12.5 mm
Stipe diameter at middle - 12.5 mm
Stipe diameter at base - 11.5 mm

Pileus - Purple, glabrous, dull, round, hemispheric. Margin is incurved. Smell is fruity and aromatic. Flesh is white. Taste is very bitter. Flesh does not stain when bruised.
Hymenium - White pore surface with tubes 1 mm long. Does not stain when bruised.
Stipe - solid, white flesh, purple cuticle, central, slightly tapered, inserted, does not stain. No ring or volva.
Spore print - not obtained.


This specimen looks like a Tylopilus plumbeoviolaceous. Apart from the odor, which I found to be quite agreable, the rest of the observed characteristics fit with Roody's description (p. 341). The mushroom is very bitter and is described as being inedible (I wonder who would try eating it anyway).  This is in contrast with the somewhat similar T. eximius (Lilac-brown Bolete), which is considered by some as being edible (although there are some reports of poisoning caused by this mushroom). The speckled stipe and  non-distinctive flavor allows one to easily distinguish it from T. plumbeoviolaceous. Other lookalikes which are also bitter are T. rubrobrunneus (Reddish brown bitter Bolete) and T. violantinctus (Pale Violet Bitter Bolete). The former develops olive-brown stains on the stalk and the later has a pale purplish to grayish violet or pale brown pileus.

Falcon Guide to North American Mushrooms, page 380
Mushroooms of West Virgina and the Central Appalachians, page 341

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer Mushrooms

Specimen found on grass
The weather has been very nice and fortunately we have had a lot of rain in the Rockville region over the last couple of weeks. Naturally, some of my friends are bragging about finding yellow chanterelles (C. cibarius), chicken (L. sulphureus), black staining polypores (M. giganteus) and a variety of boletes in the woods around Rockville. Today I went around the block (as usual) looking for mushrooms growing on lawns in the Rollins Park area. In a short 30 minutes walk I found a large variety of rusulas, Agaricus campestris, Amanita vaginata, Amanita flavorubens, Xerula megalospora, Phallus rubicundus, Tylopilus plumbeoviolaceous and a variety of boletes growing on grass and oak roots. One of the boletes I found looked specially nice (and potentially edible - did not stain when bruised and had a nice yellow pore surface without any tint of red or blue) and therefore I decided to face the challenge and try to identify it for a change.

So here it goes....

Date: 07/17/2011
Location: Rollins Park, Rockville, MD
Habitat: Solitary, growing on grass, under pine trees

Note that it does not stain
Pileus diameter - 51 x 46 mm
Pileus height - 17 mm
Stipe lenght - 55 mm
Stipe diameter at apex - 9.6 x 23 mm
Stipe diameter at middle - 9.6 x 16.5 mm
Stipe diameter at base - 9.6 x 11.6 mm

Pore surface depressing around stipe
Tubes are decurrent
Pileus - brown/red, dry, glabrous, cracked (specially near margin) and revealing light yellow flesh, smell is agreable, taste is mild and non-distinctive. Flesh is yellow and does not bruise.
Hymenium - tubes are bright yellow, depressed around the stipe, evenly distributed. Pores are angular and do not bruise. Tubes are around 6.8 mm long and decurrent (go down stipe 4 mm).
Stipe - central, tapered from base to apex, compressed, reticulated (bold brown reticulation)
Spore print - Not obtained

This seems to be a Xerocomus spadiceus, also known as Boletus spadiceus Fries. This mushrooms is considered to be a good edible which fruits between July and September under conifers and mixed woods.

Some other possibilities which look very similar are B. illudens and B. subtomentosus. Based on the reference provided below, B. illudens' pileus is described as being pale brownish yellow and becoming yellow-brown to pinkish cinnamon and the pore surface as sometimes bruising weakly blue or blue green (the specimen's pileus had tones of red on the cuticle which do not seem to fit with the description and, in my opinion, the pore surface did not stain). The fact that the pore surface does not stain eliminates B. subtomentosus, which stains greenish blue. Furthermore, B. subtomentosus is described as having a pileus that is olive-ochre and that becomes olive-brown with age. I did not observe any tone of green on the cuticle of this specimen.

Last, depending on how you describe the stipe (i.e. “yellow, bright yellow to golden yellow or yellow orange” versus “pallid, pale yellowish, cinnamon to reddish brown”) a few other similar mushrooms could be considered. For this identification I considered the stipe to be pale yellowish…otherwise I would have to call this bolete Boletus sp.

North American Boletes: A Color Guide to Fleshy Pored Mushrooms, page 158.