Monday, September 21, 2015

Ringless Honey Mushrooms

In mid-Missouri woods this week choirs of these mushrooms are growing close to the ground, their cymbal-like caps anywhere from half an inch wide to two inches each, clustered at the bases or stumps of oak trees or bubbling up from buried wood, and from a distance they resemble "hens of the woods," but they've got gills and separate stems and no rings on the stems, so they're ringless honey mushrooms. Whether they taste honeyed I'll never know because the Mycological Society says, "Never eat little brown mushrooms." There's also a "ringed" version, and a semi-look-alike fall mushroom with a bright orange cap that also grows in "bouquets" like these: the Deadly Galerina, also called the Jack O'Lantern. Edible mushrooms to hunt for now include puffballs and "hens of the woods." A famous mycologist told me he frequently receives emails with photos from people who write, "Can you identify this mushroom? I didn't know what it was, so I ate it." Poisonous mushrooms can dissolve your liver and kidneys. Don't risk it.

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