The Amanita Muscaria mushroom returns each winter, usually after a good soaking rain. It is not edible, but would make you hallucinate in unpleasant ways — so I’ve heard. It looks like the classic toadstool of fairy tales. I enjoy seeing them pop out the ground, round and red, open up and then flatten out while losing their color.
The rain has returned, and with it comes the mushrooms. I found this mushroom under an oak tree in the yard. I was struck how it looked like a woodland scene, the home of fairies and dwarves. I expect that if I was patient, I might catch a glimpse of such unseen things.
Each year i see the return of Amanita muscaria, the toadstool mushroom, which is also poisonous, if not hallucinogenic.
I first blogged about the Amanita Muscaria mushroom in December 2008. I have been able to find them at the same location each year since at this time. The rains this winter have been heavy and they are the trigger for the mushrooms to emerge. The classic toadstool, Amanita Muscaria, is bright red and inedible — a true stand-out. I’ve noticed them in greater number this year, popping up and falling over in a jagged line among the fallen leaves.
Milo found this porcini under oak trees at our DRNK winery. He said it is a California King Bolete.
He cut it up and set it out to dry on a rack in our greenhouse. When I walked in there, the warm air and the drying porcinis in the closed room combined to create an earthy but ever so light and delicate aroma, like taking a breath over simmering broth. Wow.
In January, I found a variety of mushrooms around the yard and photographed them. This was just before some heavy rainfall that wiped them out.
I shared the photos with Joe Szuecs of Renga Arts who knows mushrooms and he helped me identify them. (Having a couple of photos of a mushroom is not the same as identifying them in the field.)
This cauliflower mushroom was quite large — and brain-like. It is also edible so I brought it inside. While washing it in the sink, I found dozens of insects from earwigs to millipedes living within its folds.
I boiled the whole mushroom — so big it wouldn’t easily fit in the pot. I added some pieces of it to a stew. The taste was mild and it had a woody scent, pretty much what you’d expect. I created a broth from the mushroom but I found I couldn’t really tackle eating much of the mushroom itself. Maybe it was the thought of more insects. Maybe it was the tortuous foldings. Maybe it was too old.
Okay, I was squeamish. Such as it is.
A colorful collection of Amanita Muscaria can be found near the deodora cypress, where they were last year. I blogged about them last December 27th in 2008. This year, they seem to have come a little earlier, spurred by more rain perhaps.
I touched the mushroom cap. It was wet from rain and the white areas came off, and the underlying red smudged easily, like finger paint.
This beautiful red-orange mushroom is Amanita Muscaria, which has an extensive entry in Wikipedia. It’s common name is fly agaric, which isn’t particularly easy to remember either. (It was thought to kill flies when sprinkled in milk.) The genus Amanita includes most of the poisonous mushrooms, and Amanita Muscaria is not edible.
I have four lovely specimens growing underneath a pine tree. I recall seeing only one last year in the same place. The largest of these mushrooms is about ten inches in diameter and the top flattens out.
Here’s a young one, which you can see, is stout and round.