• At the level of mushrooms

    by  • November 14, 2011 • Fall, Plant Profiles

    “Misidentify a mushroom and your liver could dissolve.”  Hank Shaw, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

     After one autumn rain, it’s enough moisture to release a passel of mushrooms pushing up from the loamy soil here along one of my paths.  I noticed that a few have been kicked, (by a man walking a dog) which is what we do in frustration partly because we’d love; at least I would, to make a delicious mushroom omelet for my spouse’s breakfast.  I can’t though, as it would be extremely irresponsible to do so, know there would be a chance that it would be the last breakfast for that spouse.

    Agaricus albolutescens Zeller

    Agaricus albolutescens

    Agaricus albolutescens

    Recently at our local bookstore, on a weekend when I was away, 65 people showed up to listen to a talk by a man in my tiny town, an expert he claimed on local mushrooms. the poster said :
    “Did you know that 10 of the most delicious mushrooms in the world grow in Eastern Madera County?

    Does it surprise you to learn that mushrooms are used to clean polluted waterways?

    Would you like to identify the mushrooms you’ve seen growing on your property?

    Have you thought about cultivating mushrooms for profit or just for your kitchen?

    No. Yes! Yes. No, but I would like to.

    Too risky to try

    Agaricus albolutescens, too risky to try

    When searching for an ID on these mushrooms, an understandable request for anonymity came from one expert on  on Mushroom Observer.

    He says, “I feel obliged to warn you not to base edibility on names proposed on Mushroom Observer!  While there are some foolproof mushrooms like oysters and chanterelles and morels and chicken-on-the-woods and some boletes and so on, I personally would never, for example, trust Coprinus or Agaricus or Amanita.  Ever.  I don’t care how confident an expert feels based on a photo I posted.”

    So far, I’ve not discovered any mushrooms like oysters and chanterelles and morels and chicken-on-the-woods. But I would like to.

    Beautiful! Earthy. Just lovely....

    Beautiful! Earthy. Just lovely….

    But oh!  They look so deeply delectable, so nutty and crisply creamy white with their crinkley skins cracking as they grow.  I could just scoop them up and toss them into a sink of cold water. Can you imagine the aroma as these ‘shrooms would be dropped into a pan of melted butter?

    Madeline as Chesire Cat by Zoey

    Madeline as Chesire Cat by Zoey

    Caterpillar: By the way, I have a few more helpful hints. One side will make you grow taller…
    Alice: One side of what?
    Caterpillar: …and the other side will make you grow shorter.
    Alice: The other side of what?
    Caterpillar: THE MUSHROOM, OF COURSE!


    My Cheesy Mushroom Bread
    1 cup shredded mozzarella or Fontina cheese
    1/3 cup mayonnaise
    1/2 lb sliced mushrooms sautéed in a little butter
    A little shredded parmesan cheese
    A little chopped green onions
    French bread

    In a bowl, combine the cheese, mushrooms, mayo, Parmesan and onion.
    Cut bread in half lengthwise and spread cheese mixture over cut sides.
    Broil for 5-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
    Slice and eat.


    The Oak And The Mushroom – A Fable By Joel Benton
    The mushroom and the oak
    In the meadow stood together.
    When the former, in his cloak
    Pearly-white, briskly said:
    “I have just got out of bed,
    And I find the world is radiant with good
    I see a thousand pretty things —
    Flowers with color, birds with wings
    That fly so far and so fleetly; —
    But there’s one thing puzzles me most com-
    How a tree of power and size
    Should take so long to rise.
    I at once sprang from the ground,
    And have hardly looked around,
    And have not been here an hour: —
    But, to win your state and power,
    As your wrinkledness appears.
    Took a dozen score of years.
    Look at me,
    And you’ll agree
    I am whole and clear and sound.
    Isn’t that a perfect dower?
    And I‘ve not been here an hour!”

    You can see how they have pushed up the soil

    You can see how they have pushed up the soil

    Then the oak
    To his callow comrade spoke:
    “All depends on what you set yourself to be —
    Whether mushroom, or a tree.
    Very little needs but little for supply;
    And to one who can say
    He has had no yesterday —
    Who, springing from a shower,
    Was born in an hour,
    And with weeping and quick sorrow,
    Must vanish ere to-morrow,—
    Things are easy, I admit.
    But if you had had a bit of real, sturdy wit,
    You would know
    Quick to come is quick to go.
        ” — But hither strolls the epicure;
    He will settle this debate, I’m sure.
    See, he ends our fact or fable,
    By picking you to sit as a morsel on his table.
    But to you ‘t is little difference, any way —
    Small intruder of a day —
    Had he missed your meadowy spot,
    Found you here, or found you not,
    Death has uses:—and your take-off is as just,
    For to-morrow you would crumble into dust.”

    More about mushrooms from our unknown expert:
    Mushroom Expert is a good resource for the east coast; MykoWeb is good for California; and there are several other good sites.

    *Zoey Stevens painted my daughter Madeline as the Cheshire Cat, shown above. If you click the photo you’ll go to his webpage.  So far he’s painted her four times and will begin on one of her in her wedding dress, red, of course. …I love this painting, …of course.


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.