I wrote a couple of days ago (or was it only yesterday?) about how Jayne got me started working on a book. In doing research for it… cuz I wanted to list the names of all the species… I found myself stumped by one of the fungi. Once again, I turned to Flickr.com’s ID Please group.
It wasn’t long before “Rhizopogon” answered my question:
Velvet Stem – Flammulina velutipes
I was skeptical at first. None of the websites I visited seemed to have pictures at all resembling my specimen. The more I read, though, the more convinced I became.
Tom Volk lists Winter Mushroom and Velvet Foot as additional common names. Michael Kuo must have been feeling a little punchy when he listed my favorite common name: “At Least Something’s Out in January Mushroom.”
It seems this ‘shroom can be either saprobic or parasitic: it can be found on dead wood or living trees. It is particulary fond of elm, which is where I found it.
Get ready for the most fascinating thing I learned: I’ve eaten this ‘shroom, though it looked NOTHING like the above pictures when I did. Have you ever had a Japanese dish, such as Sukiyaki, that has clusters of long-stemmed white mushrooms with small button caps on top? Cooks call them Enoki mushrooms. Well… it’s the same species!
When cultivated in jars in the dark, the stems continue to elongate as the organism tries to find a way out into the open where spores can be released.
I borrowed the Enoki photo above from Michael Kuo’s site. Be sure to click on it and read Michael’s article – especially the part about attempting to cultivate Enoki in space. I love a fellow cynic. The photo at left from Tom Volk’s site shows a colony where the bark is peeled away. Notice the enoki-like, long-stemmed, pale mushrooms growing below the orange fruits that have found their way out into the world.
WARNING: It is VERY important that if you decide you want to eat this mushroom you get the cultivated variety from the grocery store! There is another species (Galerina autumnalis) that is very like this and has been reported growing side by side with this. Galerina autumnalis is highly toxic!!!!
People ask me all the time how I know so much about nature. It’s really quite simple. This is how it happens… I snap a picture. I ask a question. The answer leads me to read and surf the ‘net… Suddenly, I know something I didn’t know before.
Thanks to Rhizopogon for pointing me in the right direction for this identification!
Ain’t life fascinating?