Teeth You Can Eat

I just love it when the experts say that something is widespread and common, yet I have just encountered it for the first time in my half-century-plus lifetime.  Such is the case with a couple of fungi I encountered over the weekend.

Another Bizzare Fungus
According to Michael Kuo, “Hericium americanum is North America’s only Hericium species with long spines and a branched fruiting body.”

As I surfed around looking for more information about this one I discovered that it has many common names including Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus, Monkey Head, Lion’s Mane, Pom pon Blanc, and Icicle Mushroom.  I also discovered that the scientific name has changed recently and you might find it listed as Hericium coralloides, a name that has now officially been given to a different species – a coral fungus that used to be called Hericium ramosum.  Yikes, I think I’m glad I’m NOT a mycologist!  (Click here for an interestng article about how and why names change.  It’s not related to this fungus, but the story is illustrative!)

There are several Hericium species in the northeast woods.  Kuo says that H. americanum is sometimes confused with H. erinaceus.  So I began to wonder about this one:Bizzare Fungus

H. americanum is branched, H. erinaceus derives from a single clump.  I dunno.  What do you think?  Is the one above a single clump or branched?  The spines (or teeth) are shorter, but I think it is younger, too.

Both are “toothed” fungi, meaning that spores are produced from elongated spines or teeth, rather than from gills or pores as in some other fungi.

All of the Hericium species in North America are edible, so They say, and several species in this genus are cultivated for consumption.  Indeed, the Hericium species are reported to be quite easy to cultivate.

Have any of you sunk your teeth into these teeth before?  How are they?

Learn more:


P.S.  Seabrooke blogged about fungi, too:  http://themarvelousinnature.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/fungal-growths/


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7 thoughts on “Teeth You Can Eat

  1. Pingback: Fungal growths « the Marvelous in nature

  2. How beautiful, I’ve never seen one before either. I do believe that is the most beautiful fungus I have seen! Great photos! What is the substrate it is growing on and the locale conditions?

  3. I emailed a friend the other day with my new email address and he responded with this:

    Thanks for the update. BTW, I clicked on your winterwoman page and was surprised to see the only fungi that I am comfortable picking to eat—Lion’s Mane. I’ve picked it in the Adirondacks and other mountains in this area. It has a very strong taste, and I’ve enjoyed it the most in spaghetti sauce.

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