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