Identifying an Unkown Mushroom


Moe and more, people are calling me for help identifying mushrooms. Sometimes it is easy to do, and at other times it is difficult. I thought posting a blog entry on the latest trial would help others know what kind of characteristics to examine in order to make an identification effort fruitful.

20141104_112105Mike put in a wood chip patch in February and inoculated it with Wine-Cap Stropharia spawn, Stropharia rugosoannulata. On November 4, he found a flush of mushrooms, but they had a beige cap rather than the wine colored cap he expected. He felt it wise to get a positive identification prior to eating them (good thinking). We met and he brought this mushroom.

Although the cap was off color, it had many of he features of the wine-caps. Michel Kuo mentions, on his web site, the occurrence of a light colored variety Considering this, I contacted Park SKOHcapeed Co. where Mike had gotten the spawn to see if they dealt with this variety, but they no longer carried Stropharia. In addition, I have read nowhere that S. rugosoannulata has appressed scales on the cap, which the specimen clearly has under stereoscopic microscopy. I was not able to get a good enough slide to view cellular structure. The cap has an orangish reaction to KOH, consistent with Kuo, but the specimen did not have a creosote-like odor. It was dried up however. The cap had the “pop” of a normally viscid cap when the wet finger test was applied. (Wet your finger and touch the cap while holding it close to your ear; you can hear a pop when you quickly pull your finger back off of the cap)

IMG_20141106_124348066The sample mushroom was 6-inches in diameter and about 5-inches tall. From this picture one can see a spore deposit on a strong annulus (ring). I agree that the spore deposit is IMG_20141106_123847050_HDRpurplish-brown and the spore images under a microscope are consistent with Kuo’s. In addition, the gills are adnexed, notched.



stipeThe flesh is white; the smell was weak. There are also radial lines on the stipe above the ring. Below the ring the stipe has vertical fissures in the surface tissue. The base of the stipe is enlarged. Also, notice the ring is split in the next picture which is consistent with David Aurora’s (Mushrooms Demystified) description, as is the tan cap. .

So where does this leave us? Would you accept this as an atypical S. rugosoannulata and eat it? I am concerned about the IMG_20141106_124315528appressed scales on the cap. Other than that, it sure looks like a Stropharia. Read Kuo’s description and see what you think. I’ll bring you my answer later. Feel free to comment. . . . .


Wild Persimmon Bread with Hickory Nuts

Persimmon Bread with Hickory Nuts


2 cups flour
! tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
¾ cup butter (1 ½ sticks)
2 well beaten eggs
½ pint wild persimmon pulp (1 cup)
½ cup chopped “clean” hickory nut meat (I like mockernut hickory)


Sift flour and soda.
In separate bowl, cream sugar and butter.
Add eggs and soda-flour mixture.
Add persimmon pulp and hickory nuts.

Mix to a thick batter and pour (more like globbing wet glue) into two small loaf pans ( lined with parchment or waxed paper)

Bake about 1 hour at 325o F. Bread will be a moist, dark brown.

Original recipe from Euell Gibbons: Stalking he Wild Asparagus


Giant Puffball in November

Early yesterday morning my friend Bob O, called to tell me he had seen several large puffballs while walking his dog at a local park. Actually they were right at the beginning Giant1of a trail through our greenbelt. I met him within 20 minutes, and we collected them – Calvatia gigantea. To the left is Bob with the harvest (click on thumbnail). He is holding the largest one which weighed 11 pounds !! Four total, but one was discarded because it had already begun to yellow inside.


ivyThis wGiant2as an unusual experience for three reasons: (1) the biggest I have personally collected, (2) it was late (November) for this species here, and (3) they were growing in a bed of thick English ivy – in fact they were creased by the vines as they grew through the tangle..

I toGiant3ok them home to make Puff Ball Parmesan (click on sidebar link for recipe). Unfortunately, the giant one was beginning to yellow, and I saw no need to try and salvage the edges, as I had two more good ones weighing 3 lbs.