I was amazed to find two fine specimens of toothed mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus & Climacodon septentrionalis) after nearly 3 months of draught here in southern Indiana. I always supposed the shrooms pretty much needed rain to form, but that is just not the case. Talking to Jim Biddle, a local shiitake grower, I found that some Japanese growers hit their logs with sticks to induce fruiting, and that he has seen fallen logs fruit with out any soaking. So water is not the only factor which governs fruiting.
The first was a specimen of the eminently edible lion’s mane, Hericium erinaceus. It has been growing for the past two years on the soft maple tree next door to us, right in Bloomington. But for some reason it fruited twice during the drought. The first flush came on very large, and I was amazed to find that someone else came and harvested it before I could get to it. I thought I was one of the few in the neighborhood who would know what it was. I was wrong. I harvested the second flush in early October, and it was delicious. I breaded and fried the steaks, ate them for two days after, it made 3 good meals.
My second draught tolerant mushroom was found in the Brummett’s Creek valley, about halfway up the side of the ridge. It was growing between the legs/roots of a beech tree overlooking a steep drop from the ridge. I am thinking it is Climacodon septentrionalis, northern tooth fungus, if anyone else has a different idea, let me know.
On Sunday Eileen and I took a walk at the Griffy Nature Preserve, and even though it had been dry for the past week, we found a plethora of mushrooms along the trail. First up were several varieties of Boletes, most with a yellow pore surface (they have pores rather than gills.) None were the desirable Boletus edulis, which has a white pore surface.
Next we came upon a log covered with oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), and although I’ve seen them cultivated, but this is the first time I’d found them wild. They on several logs along the path, it was amazing to see so many.
The best find of the day was the lactarius indigo, afaik, the only blue mushroom in the midwest. I’ve not seen one for a decade, and here there were several specimens along the path. They are edible, but we did not take any. They had been knocked over by a previous hikers, so I got some good pictures of the otherworldly color of their gills.
On Thursday evening, Eileen and I took in a foray at Griffy Woods with a group from the Fungal Flashmob group on FB. Expert mycologist Steve Russel led us over hill and dale to ID a wide range of fall fungi.
We found a large growth of Chicken of the Woods, Polyporus sulphureus, often a parasite of oak trees. We found this one near the beginning of the foray, a few hundred feet from the parking lot. It was growing on the north side and south side of the tree, and a third was fruiting about 20 feet in the air.
This specimen ended up sliced and fried with Panko breading and garlic, a great main course. It was amazingly like chicken in both texture and taste, without the dead animal flavonoids in chicken.
A variation or subspecies of the chicken mushrhoom, Laetiporus cincinnatus was described in 1998 by Tom Volk at Univ. of Wisconsin. It’s main distinguishing feature is a white pore surface underneath, rather than the typical bright yellow of Polyporus sulphureus.
Being an amateur mycologist, when walking in the woods, I am always on the lookout for mushrooms. I can identify quite a few, and it is always fun to find one that it is new to me. I most often find them when walking in the woods at Griffy or the forests all around Bloomington, and often the deeper you go into the woods, the better the finds.
Well, I’ve found that you really don’t have to go all the way to the Deem Wilderness to find something exceptional, I just had to look next door. On the old damaged maple tree, I found a great specimen of the Lion’s Mane, Hericium erinaceus. It is quite edible and highly prized in Chinese cuisine and traditional medicine. Recent studies have confirmed it has both anti-oxidant and lipid lowering properties compounds.