August 12, 2007

More Mushrooms from Purgatory

I took another foray through Purgatory Chasm today, spending about four hours hiking about and locating fungi. I had no luck with the black trumpets but did find a few interesting specimens. Photos and info below. Clicking the thumbnails will open a larger image in a new window.

Typical terrain from Purgatory Chasm. The trees are a mixture of hemlock, spruce, oaks and beech with smaller numbers of birch and maple.
A rather handsome Amanita which I have been unable to identify to species. The warts (remnants of the universal veil) are friable and membranous. I examined three specimens, one younger and one more mature than this one; none had an annulus and all had an indistinct volva like the one shown. The stipe stains chocolate brown when bruised but the cap does not. The cap, however, loses color when drying, fading to a pallid or very light tan color. Even in the large, mature specimen, the pileus did not become planar. The stipes on the three specimens were between 7.5 and 8 cm in length and the pileus 6 to 7 cm in diameter. I found them growing in an open, sunny area near spruce. If anyone can provide even a tentative ID for this, I'd appreciate it. It's frustrating to leave such a fine-looking mushroom unidentified!
Clitocybe gigantea, one of the largest mushrooms that mainland North Americans are likely to see. Note my lens cap provided for scale. This is a relatively small specimen at a mere 15 cm diameter; there have been reports of C. gigantea over 40 cm wide! Unlike most other members of its genus, this clitocybe is considered edible in that it isn't toxic. Unfortunately, it's also flavorless and has a texture I can best describe as being like loose, wet Styrofoam. Not everything edible is worth eating.
Perhaps only a mushroom geek such as myself would find this little gelatinous fungus to have any charisma at all... but I do. Lumped under the common name "witches' butter" are several similar fungi, the most common being the brain-like masses of Tremella mesenterica. This photograph, however, is of Dacrymyces deliquescens, which grows in ranks instead of larger masses. I believe it also has distinctively Y-shaped basidia as well, which species of Tremella don't have.
Omphalotus olearius, commonly known as the jack-o-lantern mushroom and, in my opinion, one of the most interesting fungi in the world. It's one of the few that is sometimes confused with golden chanterelle, but only by amateurs who don't remember that chanterelles grow only on the ground, Omphalotus only on wood. While this is a poisonous mushroom, the mistake isn't likely to be a dangerous one. Omphalotus has a distinctly bitter flavor that makes it much more likely to be spat out then swallowed. What's really cool about it, though, are two things. First, it's bioluminescent, glowing with an eerie bluish-green glow in darkness. Second, it's the source for the anticancer drug Irofulven (6-hydroxymethylacylfulvene), which can be used in fighting solid tumors. Unlike Dacrymyces, you don't have to be a mushroom geek to appreciate the jack-o-lantern!
A cluster of juvenile Omphalotus olearius; they look like an entirely different species than the mature specimens.
Paxillus atrotomentosus, AKA velvet paxillus, is lethally poisonous. David Arora reports in Mushrooms Demystified that some people cook and eat this mushroom with no ill effect, but I've never met one and I would bet that they've misidentified the mushroom and eaten something entirely different. As far as I've been told by every mycologist I've so far met, all members of this small genus are potentially deadly or will at least make death seem like a viable alternative to the days of sever sickness they can induce. Paxillus toxins are known to induce anaphylactic shock, severe and irreversible kidney damage, and the breakdown of red blood cells and even of the blood vessels themselves. It's a bit like a steaming hot bowl of ebola virus with death occurring up to four days after ingestion of the fungus. Yummy.
This is also Paxillus atrotomentosus, but an immature specimen that still shows the thickened stipe and characteristic involute edge of the cap. It hasn't yet adopted the polypore-like stature often seen in mature specimens. The only edible mushroom with which I can see this being confused is a pine spike (Chroogomphus), and I've tried eating those and didn't think much of them. It's certainly not worth the risk of ingesting Paxillus so, as they say, don't try this at home, kids!
Here is the only worthwhile edible I found today, Russula cyanoxantha... which doesn't really exist as a species but is a lumping together of a number of species or subspecies with similar characteristics. It was the only one I found, so I didn't bother bringing it home with me. The photo of the pileus doesn't do it justice; it looks pink, but the mushroom was much more violet in color. The camera's flash changed it. You'll just have to trust me on this one.
I'm utterly stumped on this one; I can't even start to identify it coherently as I couldn't get a spore print out of it. The pileus is distinctly viscid (slimy), but the stipe is not. It was growing next to an old stump but appears to have been mycorrhizal insofar as the stipe was mainly underground, extending into the soil a good four inches in all. As you can see, the lamellae appear to have been initially pallid but to develop sordid red to brown edges and attach adnately to the stipe. Again, if anyone cane even start me off with a good place to start identifying this one, please let me know.

Sphere: Related Content