A Mushroom Tale

"Cow Dung" Mushrooms

“Cow Dung” Mushrooms

Several days ago “KC”commented on my post “Elfin Saddle“saying she misidentified a mushroom resembling Elfin Saddle, ate it and was suffering the consequences. That reminded me of an experience I had many years ago while in graduate school at Oregon State University. Since then I do not eat wild fungi except in VERY RARE circumstances and only when I am ABSOLUTELY certain of the mushroom’s identification.

Six of us, including Chris, a Ph.D candidate in mycology (the study of mushrooms and fungi), spent an afternoon in the woods gathering mushrooms. Chris wanted to see how many different species we could find and practice his identification skills.

Once back at Chris’ house the six of us sat around a table with our baskets of fungi and identification handbooks. Each of us separated our collection into three piles: Edible, Maybe Edible and Definitely Poisonous.

Chris threw away all the “Maybe Edible” and “Definitely Poisonous” piles. He proceeded to separate the “Edible” mushrooms into three categories: Edible, Maybe Edible and Definitely Poisonous.

We then took ONLY the mushrooms Chris deemed edible (after two screenings) to his major professor’s home. His major professor proceeded to separate our edible mushrooms into three categories. Do I need to repeat what the piles were labeled?

Although I enjoy foraging, since that time I prefer to eat only mushrooms that arrive wrapped in cellophane from the grocery store. I love to search out and photograph fungi. However, I do not eat my “finds”.

These are mushrooms that belong to the “cow dung” group because of their preferred habitat and were photographed along the Pacific Crest Trail near Ashland OR.

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3 Responses to A Mushroom Tale

  1. Pingback: Dung-loving Psilocybe | The Nature Niche

  2. What a great (slightly frightening) story! I’ve been tempted to start mushroom hunting since I love mushrooms and often see them in the field, but I think I will reconsider.

    I once found myself at a very uncomfortable dinner with some people that I did not know well and found rather frightening, and I vividly remember when they announced that the main course was pasta with wild mushrooms that they had picked themselves. I thought, “Great, now they’re going to kill me.”

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