July 18, 2008

Avoid the Sticky Brown Mushrooms with the Spotted Yellow Gills

This morning, I identified the last of the fungi that I collected from Wachusett on Wednesday. It took awhile because I’m not familiar with genus which is large and diverse in any case. I thus had to start with the spore print and that can take hours to produce.

The mushroom turns out to be Tricholoma flavobrunneum. By itself, this doesn’t mean much to most people, I’m sure. However, what might be meaningful to nearly anyone is that this ranks among the worst-tasting mushrooms ever. Tasting a tiny fragment from a specimen is routine, but it so happens that this particular mushroom combines intense bitterness and the rancid flavor into an experience sure to cause nausea. At least, it certainly did that for me. It required washing my mouth out with water and at least ten mints to make the taste go away and an hour for the queasiness to subside.

Unfortunately, the flash on my camera obscured the true color of the gills in the largest of the fruiting bodies. They should be a yellow hue barely verging on brown. The gills in the younger specimens are closer to ivory.

References state that this is not an edible mushroom. I don’t know whether it’s poisonous but I doubt anyone has ever been able to swallow enough of it to find out. I still haven't completely gotten rid of the bitter aftertaste.

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