Shroom Raider issue 1 cover image, Amanita Jones sitting atop pink-hued chair-sized mushrooms

First issue of Shroom Raider!

Hey there! It’s been awhile since my last post, but I’ve recently completed some new work – I’m trying my hand at comics!

I think comics are where it’s at in terms of storytelling.  What better way to tell a meaningful story than through semiotic mediums – or comics! Comics are unique because they are like languages –  they are systems of signs the reader must interpret to understand what the author intends to communicate (just think of any time the sequence of panels on a page threw off your understanding because you read the panels’ speech/narrative bubbles in a different order than the author intended).

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Amanita Jones finds the legendary Pelo-Mo mushroom. | ©SCLeccentric

 

via Shroom Raider: Mushroom and Zombie Flambé

Above is page 16 from issue 1 of Shroom Raider – only one box of narrative here, not confusing at all heh 🙂 you can click through to the *entire* first issue of Shroom Raider, where we are introduced to our mushroom-foraging citizen detective, Amanita Jones (named after Amanita muscaria).

Sam (or SCLeccentric) based the character off of me. So if you think she resembles me, that’s the intention 🙂 Of course, I’m NOWHERE *near* as cool as Amanita is. But it’s always good to have goals!

Let me know what you think in the comments! We’ll be seeing Amanita again soon enough; I just finished a beat sheet for a new comic she’s featured in – exciting! See you all next time!

 

(Forageable) Fungi Fridays: Hevella lacunosa*

fluted hevella, Hevella lacunosa

[250 words, 1-3 minute read]

This club-shaped fungus is called the elfin black saddle in North America, though the images I have make the Hevella lacunosa look more like the elfin black cloud 🙂 A conspicuous morel lookalike, the fluted hevella can be found under deciduous and coniferous trees.

Hevella lacunosa
Fun Fact: The root of its species name, lacunosa, is the latin noun ‘lacuna’ (lake, pool). Today, lacuna refers to a cavity or depression, or intervals. This refers to the fluted depressions and hollow stipe (stem) of the H. lacunosa.

So I tried them deep fried after reading they’re best prepared that way…and let’s just say I now understand why they are not choice. I won’t be collecting them again haha 🙂 they tasted really…mushroomy, which makes sense but doesn’t make this mushroom more desirable. I felt like I was eating fried chunks of thin gristle, but that’s probably a bit dramatic—they didn’t taste distinctive to me at all. But if you see these guys around and can cook them over heat, you don’t have to starve!

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Genus: Hevella

Species: lacunosa

Edibility: Edible, but not (my) choice

*Disclaimer: This site is provided for informational purposes only. Taylor assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences of readers actions. Though every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, identifications may be incorrect (Taylor *is* a novice) – but that’s where community input helps! Please, feel free to correct misinformation you find (or just add your two cents) in the comments!

Happy foraging!

Fungi Fridays: Hypholoma fasciculare*

[200 words, 1-2 min read]

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Hypholoma fasciculare, or the Common Sulfur Tuft

I don’t know of any edible lookalikes for this ‘shroom, what looks like the Hypholoma fasciculare (a.k.a. the Common Sulfur Tuft). The Hypholoma capnoides, or Conifer Tuft, is questionably edible, but sources say to steer clear of it. Besides,  people report this mushroom is extremely bitter—so you probably wouldn’t like it anyway.

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They commonly grow from wood OR soil, depending on the species. Fasciculare is usually found on dead or decaying conifer stumps. Sulfur Tufts are also known as the Sulphur Tuft or Clustered Woodlover, and they often grow in bunches in absence of any other mushrooms.

 

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Genus: Hypholoma

Species: fasciculare

Edibility: inedible

Sources

http://www.mushroomexpert.com/hypholoma_fasciculare.html

http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/species/Hypholoma_fasciculare.html

 

*Disclaimer: This site is provided for informational purposes only. Taylor assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences of readers actions. Though every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, identifications may be incorrect (Taylor *is* a novice)—but that’s where community input helps! Please, feel free to correct misinformation you find (or just add your two cents) in the comments!
Happy foraging!

Fungi Fridays: Amanita phalloides*

[690 words, 3-5 min read]

The Amanita genus is famed for its deadly mushrooms. This genus can be trouble, but there are a few edible species in it. Amanita caesarea (Caesar’s Mushroom) is a highly regarded edible, and the species Amanita hemibapha, commonly known as the Half-dyed Slender Caesar, is edible as well.

I’m thinking the depicted pale mushrooms are Amanita phalloides, commonly known as Death Caps. I didn’t get the best look at these for identification purposes, but they were beautiful from afar! Many Amanita phalloides images depict fruit with greener caps than these two depicted mushrooms, but their distinctive volvas and pale coloration are red flags to me, and they’re just too immature to know what color they’ll turn.

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Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the Fly Agaric

The beautiful (but toxic) Amanita muscaria, commonly known as Fly Agaric, is in the same genus as the phalloides. Muscaria has been traditionally used as an insecticide and sprinkled in milk to attract unsuspecting flies. It also has religious significance in Siberian culture due to hallucinogenic properties caused by ibotenic acid, muscimol, etc. and many cultures reportedly use it as an intoxicant. Apparently, humans have found many uses for this ‘shroom!

As for reported toxicity, North American deaths from Amanita muscaria compounds have been documented as recently as 2012 though—which means people are safest steering clear of this mushroom.

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Likely Amanita phalloides, the Death Cap. Related to muscaria

This is as good a time as any to consider the possibility of poisonings, as they *are* a real danger in foraging. David Fischer of Americanmushrooms.com has a logical view on the practice, and below are some of his words concerning the hallmarks of intelligent foraging, how average people regularly avoid poisonings and who qualifies as an “expert”:

“Millions of North Americans pick and eat wild mushrooms every year, without as much as a belly ache.

Are they “experts”? Yes! At least, they are experts on the edible wild mushrooms they know. Either their parents or grandparents taught them how to identify morels, or puffballs, or meadow mushrooms, or they have a good field guide and they read it… or both.

No one with a reasonable understanding of the importance of properly identifying mushrooms—with a serious awareness that some species are fatally toxic—falls victim to the Death Cap. The folks who eat Death Caps do not use field guides: they just pick the damned things and eat them. No trip to the library. No reading. No spore prints. No idea what a “partial veil” is or what “gill attachment” means.

So… Is it really dangerous to eat wild mushrooms?

How dangerous is it to drive a car? If you’re drunk or careless, it is VERY dangerous; if you’re sensible and pay attention, it is reasonably safe.

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Amanita muscaria, related to the phalloides

Consider this: Would you pick and eat an unfamiliar berry simply because it “looked good”? Of course not. Finding, identifying, preparing, and eating wild mushrooms can be a delightful pasttime—IF it is done intelligently.

Otherwise, it is a terrible “accident” waiting to happen.”

I’m so grateful for all the mushroom knowledge made available thanks to the diligent study and reporting of mycologists around the world. They make it possible to forage intelligently.

 

edit 2/3/17: I replaced all instances of “Destroying Angel” with “Death Cap”. “Destroying Angel” fungi are also poisonous, but this colloquial term usually refers to A. bisporigera, A. virosa and A. magnivelaris, NOT A. phalloides. There is a European (spring destroying angel) A. verna which resembles A. phalloides. A HUGE thanks to 1left for bringing this to my attention, whose blog is a wonderland of knowledge about wildcraft and foraging. You should check it out.

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Genus: Amanita

Species: phalloides

Edibility: inedible – highly toxic

Sources:

https://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/mar2002.html

http://americanmushrooms.com/deathcap.htm

http://www.bayareamushrooms.org/education/further_reflections_amanita_muscaria.html

*Disclaimer: This site is provided for informational purposes only. Taylor assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences of readers actions. Though every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, identifications may be incorrect (Taylor *is* a novice) – but that’s where community input helps! Please, feel free to correct misinformation you find (or just add your two cents) in the comments!
Happy foraging!

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Morel mushroom

🍄 Fun(gi) at the MSSF Fungus Fair!🍄

Driving across the bridge from the East Bay to San Francisco

On the way to MSSF!

Sam and I went to the Mycological Society of San Francisco Fungus Fair a few weekends ago, and it was nothing short of AWESOME! There’s nothing like learning about the largest branch in the Tree of Life with kindred souls!

There were two main rooms: upon arrival, you’re guided through the entryway by scents of tasty mushroom soup 🍲 and this savory serving foyer opened up to a huge room filled with mushroom fanatics performing fungi arts and crafts (there are so many ways to use mushrooms): A chef demonstrating his mushroom recipe, people dipping white scarves into rainbows of fungi dyes, excited children building multitudes of mushroom housesthen we came to the next room. The next room. Ugh. So much mushroomin’ it wasn’t allowed.

MSSF Fungus Fair life-sized diorama of a forest floor covered in leaf litter and fungi

Life-sized diorama of a forest floor you might encounter on a foray; it took up the center of the room.

There was so much information and so many specimens there that filled gaps of my fungi knowledge and will be super-useful in my fungi-related posts (definitely planning one re: California Chanterelles now). Accessing so much reliable information about fungi was invaluable, so I’ll be locating and attending fungi fairs as often as I can manage now.

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I also got these while at the fungus fair:

Wineforest Wild Foods brand dried Candy Cap mushrooms

Ever heard of candy cap mushrooms? Their binomial name is Lactarius rubidus, and I made candied yams with them! I subbed the candy caps in place of vanilla, and the yams came out with distinctive maple flavor. Contrary to what one might assume, the yams DID NOT taste like mushrooms. They tasted like candied yams with maple syrup…seasoning, if that makes sense…delicious! These are even good used in a roast duck or chicken recipe; they add maple flavor and distinguish your glazes, yum 😋 And  I only need to use one or two mushrooms per serving of any given dish. A little goes a long way!

What fungus fairs (or any sort of nature-themed fair) have you attended? Let me know in the comment section below 🙂

I can’t recommend attending the MSSF Fungus Fair enough, and you should definitely check it out if you live by San Francisco. I can’t wait for next year’s fair!

Fungi Fridays: Unknown*

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Unsure about the ID of these, and all my research on fungi foraging warns against picking any little brown mushrooms (called LBMs). Nice to look at, regularly not so nice to eat 🍴 the little brown ones are commonly difficult to ID and land many a brave soul in the hospital. They’re a huge reason why many adults tell children all mushrooms are poisonous (when it’s not nearly that simple, but I get it – better safe than sorry!). It’s possible they’re edible, but not likely enough to chance it without further info. I’m thinking they might be mycena? I have no clue though ><

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Genus: Unknown

Species: Unknown

Edibility: Unknown

Disclaimer: This site is provided for informational purposes only. Taylor assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences of readers actions. Though every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, identifications may be incorrect (Taylor is a novice) – but that’s where community input helps! Please, feel free to correct misinformation you find (or just add your two cents) in the comments!
Happy foraging!

Fungi Fridays: Bear Bread mushroom*

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Here’s an Artist’s Conk (less commonly known as Bear Bread) fungus Sam crossed a river to cut down – he’s a big fan of Samwise Gamgee from LOTR, and I happen to be as well – sorry Frodo – so Teamwise was born!

The Artist’s Conk (Ganoderma applanatum) is a bracket fungus that grows within the wood of living and dead trees. It is a saprobic wood-decay fungus (meaning it colonizes rotting wood and dead organic matter), and it is quite inedible. But, though I can’t imagine the hungry forager who would deem this fungus edible, this fungus is also called “Bear Bread” for the obvious reasons.

Sam took a big dunk in the river to get this fungus too :O I recorded him making the trip across, and I’ll likely post videos on my Instagram of his trials and tribulations (thanks again Samwise!)

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Genus: Ganoderma

Species: applanatum

Edibility: inedible

 

Disclaimer: This site is provided for informational purposes only. Taylor assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences of readers actions. Though every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, identifications may be incorrect (Taylor is a novice) – but that’s where community input helps! Please, feel free to correct misinformation you find (or just add your two cents) in the comments!
Happy foraging!

 

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