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Fungus of the Month by Tom Volk
April 30, 2011 12:41 AM   Subscribe

Fungus of the month, since 1997. Discover the bright aqua green stain fungus, which turns wood green, and was used by woodworkers in the Renaissance to add natural greens to inlaid wood work. Stinky and obscene dog stinkhorn fungus (maybe NSFW), like pink wieners growing out of your mulch. And many more, poisonous, infectious (warning: gross), hallucinogenic, with interesting photos and stories, for what he calls "the myco-curious". Bonus: I survived the destroying angel, an account of what happens if you eat a poisonous Amanita mushroom and are really, really lucky.

A few more I liked:
-The evocatively named dog vomit slime mold, dead man's fingers, wolf fart puffball,...
-The common plate-shaped mushrooms that grow on the sides of trees are the artist's conk - because you can scrape them to make art (see pic).
-The fungus that infects houseflies and controls them like robots
posted by LobsterMitten (22 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
Terrific post, LobsterMitten, you can tell how much the writer loves fungi - and it makes me love them too!
posted by smoke at 1:07 AM on April 30, 2011


Thanks for this excellent post. I started mushroom hunting last year, and it has become somewhat of an obsession. Chicken of the woods has been my favourite find. Here's a photo of the specimen I found. It really does taste exactly like chicken. It's uncanny.
posted by Stove at 1:51 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, first of several I found, actually. It was rather difficult to bring myself to cut such visually stunning mushrooms from the tree, even knowing how delicious it was going to be.
posted by Stove at 1:57 AM on April 30, 2011


That "destroying angel" link makes for some riveting reading.

I remember Dad picking and slicing wolf fart puffballs for us to eat during family hikes. He just called them "puffballs." I'll have to call and thank him for knowing enough to avoid the destroying angels. He used to pick and feed us miner's lettuce too, yum. Good times!

Huh. Chicken of the woods (great photo, Stove!) is different from hen of the woods, which I've been buying at a farmer's market.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:02 AM on April 30, 2011


My mom always told me there's nothing but smut on the internet.
posted by Comic Sans-Culotte at 2:17 AM on April 30, 2011


The Amanita guy is a raging idiot. What the flaming hell was he thinking!?
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:19 AM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Bonus: I survived the destroying angel, an account of what happens if you eat a poisonous Amanita
from the post:
The pressure of the strong contractions forced stuff out both ends of the GI tract, uncontrollably. I had a severe case of vomiting and diarrhea. At that point, deep down I knew I had made the big mistake: I HAD EATEN AMANITA VIROSA, AKA, “THE DESTROYING ANGEL”. 1
...
For the next three hours, I was making trips constantly from my bed to the bathroom ... By the time 7:30 had rolled around ...
...
He said “Maybe you should go get checked out at the local “Convenient Care Center.”
I silently thought to myself, “Yeah, If I go there, I’ll be sitting and waiting and by the time someones sees me, I’ll be dead.”
What a fucking idiot..
posted by delmoi at 2:32 AM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Amanita guy is a raging idiot.

What a fucking idiot..


Amen. My parents told me not to eat wild mushrooms when I was goddamn toddler. My grandparents told me the same thing. Most of my teachers in early grades told me that, too. I'm pretty sure that I saw PSAs on TV that told me not to eat wild mushrooms after they told me not to climb in discarded refrigerators.

Later, my high school AP biology teacher told me "okay, here's how you can identify wild mushrooms that you can eat, but avoid all white ones because it's too easy to make a mistake and you could die." There's no way that guy didn't know better, but his pretentious, New Age "I am like in touch with the Earth and psychedelics and shit" act got the better of him.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:56 AM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is awesome! my mom is an avid mushroomer - we also found and ate some chicken of the woods last summer. Tasty!

I like how he writes as well, the dog stinkhorn fungus page is pretty funny
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:26 AM on April 30, 2011


Creepy Plants and Fungus of the Month at 6:30 AM, Saturday. I'm guessing that the rest of my day will be lollipops and unicorns.
posted by Splunge at 3:29 AM on April 30, 2011


The amanita article has thoroughly given me the creeps, because at least the first part of the story is so similar to how I felt when I thought that I'd accidentally eaten some galerina autumnalis. There's nothing like the dread that due to your own impatience and carelessness you have just eaten something that will give you a slow and painful death. The feeling he described when you are convinced you are going to die but you are still too polite to make a scene at emergency is also exactly how I felt.
Fortunately for me I had just eaten some inedibles, Stropharia aurantiaca.

And tomorrow I am going hunting for Lactarius deliciosus, at least they are fairly unmistakable.
posted by Joe Chip at 4:50 AM on April 30, 2011


This is great! I love simple, informative old-school sites like this. Extra bonus: reminded me to check if the Lichen Portrait Gallery is still up. And it is.
posted by mediareport at 4:52 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am an avid mushroom hunter. I've eaten chicken-of-the-woods, chanterelles, lobster mushrooms, giant puffballs and shaggy manes, all of which I found on my own after years of learning and searching. There have been others I've found but been too uncertain of to eat: bear's head tooth fungus and king bolete, for two. Seriously. They're delicious, but there's no way you should eat something unless you are *absolutely certain* of what you have found. I just can't imagine mistaking a death-cap for an inky cap and being so blithe about it.

I've used this site before, and thanks for linking to it.
posted by RedEmma at 6:58 AM on April 30, 2011


There are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters.

Great thread, thanks.
posted by applemeat at 7:38 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lichens are fascinating from a textiles perspective, mediareport, because you can get some AMAZING dye colors out of them. We did a lichen dyepot in New Hampshire for my book Spin to Knit's photoshoot. The ones we used smell appalling while you're simmering them, but yield a delicate lavender-purple color. So beautiful! Mushrooms and lichen are amazing.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:46 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the links! While not a fan of eating mushrooms, I do love mycology!
posted by handbanana at 7:49 AM on April 30, 2011


What a fucking idiot..

Agreed, delmoi. One of the reasons amanitin is so damned deadly is: the poison generally attacks in two waves, days apart. The first wave involves massive vomiting and diarrhea: you feel like you're going to die! Then, that part goes away (you get "better"), while silently, slowly, the poison kills your liver.

Then you die.

Days after you decided not to bother going to the hospital. When things like massive transfusions, and mega-hits of Vitamin C (which, in this case, apparently may help), could have done something.

IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE MUSHROOM POISONING, CONTACT A DOCTOR - EVEN IF YOU ARE FEELING BETTER.

For the record, most poisonous mushrooms only cause nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea, without the liver failure. But if you aren't sure of what caused it, see a doctor.

(And, also FTR, the Death Angel, Amanita phalloides, actually kills using a different poison. Amanitin is present, but in less lethal quantities
--

Rant over.

Tom Volk is cool Uber weird. Has tatts of the reproductive organs of A. phalloides on his arm; and, coincidentally, a whole new heart, so I'm always glad to see a new post from him. Met him at the Gary Lincoff Mushroom Foray in 2003 in Pittsburgh, a tres-tres-cool event that's coming up again this August.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:36 AM on April 30, 2011


(And, also FTR, the Death Angel, Amanita phalloides, actually kills using a different poison. Amanitin. is present, but in less lethal quantities

I was thinking of another Amanita species. My bad.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:37 AM on April 30, 2011


Since 1997
But, alas, apparently not since May 2009, with one exception. Note that he managed to post every month in 2006 despite getting a heart transplant that year. Hope he gets it going again!
posted by beagle at 10:16 AM on April 30, 2011


Cool post. I love fungi. I shot this one a while back and I haven't been able to ID it (believe it or not, I make up my own fungus names). Did anybody see one like it on this site? Am I just missing it?
posted by DaddyNewt at 2:50 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obligatory Paul Stamets (previously) link.

Speaking of Stamets, if you've got the appropriate conditions, plug spawn for both chicken of the woods and hen of the woods (and a bunch of others) is available from his company. We recently added MycoGrow to our garden patch (a roughly 4'x6' section of an oversized planter out back of our apartment building's parking lot — sigh) and are looking forward to seeing how it affects the plants.
posted by Lexica at 9:17 PM on April 30, 2011


Cool post. I love fungi. I shot this one a while back and I haven't been able to ID it (believe it or not, I make up my own fungus names). Did anybody see one like it on this site? Am I just missing it?

Clown puke fungus appears to be Tubifera ferruginosa, also known as red raspberry slime mold. It is not in fact a fungus.
posted by Stove at 9:20 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


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