The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Two edible mushrooms for May

Mushroom foray

The second Rural Action mushroom foray took to the woods amid pollen so severe my black shirt turned gray and my eyes began couldn't quite decide whether to itch or tear up. I don't even get allergies! I can't imagine how the more susceptible felt.

May mushrooms

Despite adverse conditions, we collected over twenty species in three short hours. While plucking fungi from the woods, many seemed very similar and I had a sinking suspicion I was bagging the same species over and over. But once we spread them out on the picnic table, differences became clear.

Violet-toothed polypore vs. turkey tails

I'm going to focus on the edibles again (although I've included a couple of inedible beauties at the end of this post). First, another turkey-tail lookalike --- violet-toothed polypore. My specimens of both species are old and faded, but you can still see a little purple around the rim of the polypore, the same color that is much more obvious underneath when the fungi are fresh.

Lacking that giveaway, you can distinguish violet-toothed polypores from turkey-tails by peering at the undersides with a hand lens. As the name suggests, the former has teeth while the latter boasts pores.

Fawn mushroom

Next, a new-to-me edible...that I never would have been brave enough to taste on my own. Fawn mushroom (aka deer mushroom or Pluteus cervinus) looks an awful lot like another hundred or so species of brown, gilled mushrooms. But if you peer closer, there are quite a few distinguishing features.

First pay attention to ecology --- fawn mushrooms grow on rotting wood. The gills are free, as you can see in the top photo. And (at least when they get a little age on them) the pink color underneath can be distinctive.

The real clincher, though, is the aroma. Fawn mushrooms smell just like lightning bugs! With that in mind, I was much more willing to cook them up to taste.

Flavor was good but not amazing. Worth eating if you stumble across them, but not worth an earmarked hunt.

Mushroom expert

A huge thank you to our fearless leader who helped us separate the wheat from the chaff.

Mushroom books for SE Ohio

Although she didn't appear to consult her library, Martha recommended the books above for mushroom-hunting in southeast Ohio.

Orange mycena

And now, eye candy! Orange mycena...

Split-gill mushroom

...and my very favorite, the split-gill mushroom.

I wonder what we'll find next month?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Hey Anna—I could t find a way to email you, so commenting here. Ever since you started blogging again last month, the formatting of the posts doesn’t work well on iPhone. In landscape mode it’s better, but mostly people hold their phones in portrait orientation. And as such, your posts show up oddly. Also, as I recall you used to have ads only in the sides of your posts. Now they show up throughout your content, breaking up an otherwise good experience. If you have any say so, my vote is to go back to only having ads on the sides. It’s soooo much nicer.

Comment by Jennifer Tue May 28 12:46:40 2019
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