PHOTO OF THE WEEK, Hen of the Woods

The "Hen" is one of our favorite edible mushrooms of the fall. It fits our modus operandi regarding eating wild mushrooms. The only thing it is likely to be mistaken for is a pile of dead leaves.
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snipped-for-privacy@schmidling.com wrote:

Nice photo. I have a huge collection of photos of fungi I took when I was in CA. I would love to identify all of them and start learning how to ID edible mushrooms but I'm a bit afraid to eat any. :)
-L.
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-L. wrote:

With only photos you will only be able to identify a few obvious ones but its a place to start. Get a field guide to mushrooms with lots of pictures and start comparing them. If you think you have a match, Google the name and get more info.
You will find that the next time you find a mushroom, you will need lots more details to help identify it.
There are lots of mushroom books out there but I think the best place to start in the Audubon one.
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Jack Schmidling wrote:

Thanks for the info. My undergrad degree is in environmental biology so I am used to field identification of different species. I'm just a tad afraid to eat anything without an expert around to confirm my IDs, LOL...
-L.
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-L. wrote:

Around here the local arboretum offers classes in edible wild plants, including mushrooms. Surely there is something like that in CA. When I have a new mushroom popping up in my property I pocket it and go to B&N where, sipping coffee, I identify it from at least two field guides. In the process I have figured which two field guides I want to buy (they are all good, but some fit your thought process better). I eat only the mushrooms that I planted on my property, either in compost piles, wood chip piles, or buried logs. I also eat the coprinus comatus that comes out in numbers in my lawn in the Fall. No mistaking that one either, even though this year I had a nice bloom of angel destroyer (a deadly one) right next to the coprinus.
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-L. wrote:

If you have saved the photos on a CD, you may try comparing them with the extensive listing of known fungi from California at the San Francisco Mycological Society. It helps to have a cursory idea of what general group of mushrooms you are trying to find, since most of the photos are arranged in alphabetical order. But there are good-qualify photos of at least 300 different species - enough to have you started, anyway. Once you have found something that looks similar to what you have found, you may be able to identify them easier. But you must get a good mushroom field guide to help. Audubon Field Guide to North American Mushrooms is good and fairly cheap, much better IMO is David Aurora's big book, as well as his "All The Rain Promises", which is cheaper than the big book but doesn't have as many important mushrooms in it.
There is no single manual for identification of all known mushrooms in any area that I am aware of. Because of that, it takes several years of searching (preferably with people who have been looking more years than you) to feel comfortable identifying a new mushroom on site.
Daniel B. Wheeler
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I just Googled David Aurora Mushroom book, and immediately found the reference: Mushrooms Demystified.
Daniel B. Wheeler snipped-for-privacy@ipns.com wrote:

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We called it "chicken of the woods." :-) Mom always thought it a real find.
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I'm sure this will be my 'find' one day when I least expect it. So far, despite thousands of days in the woods, it remains a holy grail for me. The others (scaber stalk bolete, sulfer shelf, etc) have fallen one by one but I can't seem to come across a hen of the woods. Kurt PS nice pic, and do you think overpopulated deer and coons are eating these up before I can get to them?
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Kurt wrote:

We have the same critter problems here but they do not seem to be interested in fungus.
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Everyone needs to be aware that this one, although delicious, can cause severe gastric upset in a small percentage of the population. Steve

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Steve Peek wrote:

I was unaware of this. I know Laetiporus sp. (Chicken of the Woods, Sulfur Shelf) can cause gastric upset in some people, especially if eaten raw. But, Grifola frondosa is available in some grocery stores.
I find it often in the fall, usually at the base of mature white oak. Supposedly, it has much touted medicinal value.
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On Wed, 27 Sep 2006 18:08:27 -0400, in alt.nature.mushrooms Frederick Burroughs

Is it ever found under conifers? We have a real shortage of hardwood in my area.
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snipped-for-privacy@mushroomgroup.nym wrote:

In my experience, it tends to be choosy. Never found it under conifers, but I live in a hardwood forest.
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Frederick Burroughs wrote:

There is a variety of grifola that grows on conifers. I think www.fungi.com sells spawn.
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Steve Peek wrote:

That's interesting because I have confirmed a very mild stomach cramping several hours after eating lots of them.
I also quit eating Giant Puffballs because it was much worse than mild. I got pretty miserable.
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Jack Schmidling wrote:

One of the general rules of mushroom consumption is to not overdo it. Chitin, the main structural component of mushrooms (and the component of insect exoskeletons), is indigestible by humans. A very large meal of mushrooms might result in intestinal obstruction. Along with thorough cooking, small portions are the rule.
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snipped-for-privacy@schmidling.com wrote:

How about Cock in the bush? hehe
Sheldon
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On 28 Sep 2006 17:05:12 -0700, in alt.nature.mushrooms "Sheldon"

Where can I find one of those and how long does it take for them to get soggy?
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