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Mushrooms of the Glen Cove Area

Mushrooms of the Glen Cove Area

Students and adults have a variety of reactions when they see a large wild mushroom.  Some are excited and interested, others are repulsed and most are frightened that it is poisonous.  No one seems to be neutral about our friends in the fungus group.  Mushrooms are fascinating and in the local area after a good rain there are many species of all sizes, shapes, and colors that rise from the soil around our trees and in our lawns.


In the classification system of life on earth we have plants, animals, and fungi (the plural for fungus).  It is of interest that in the evolutionary process, humans have more in common with mushrooms than with plants.  One commonality is that mushrooms and humans both produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.  Often mushrooms are advertised as being a good source of vitamin D.  This is only if they have been exposed to ultraviolet light.  There is a bit of false advertising for most mushrooms from the store.  

A mushroom is the fruiting body of the of mycelium that is underneath it.  Mycelium is a mass of hyphae or fungal strings that gets nutrients from the soil or has a symbiotic relationship with tree roots, or is parasitic.  Many trees cannot live or be healthy without a relationship with the mycelium that is connected with its roots.  Mycelium can be hundreds of years old. The Monterey Pine that is in front of Glen Cove has relationship with the mushroom known as Suillus pungens.  Suillus pungens is therefore called a mycorrhizal mushroom.  Although it is edible it is not a delicious mushroom. Most of the mushrooms in the pictures below are saprophytic and grow in decaying soil.  The mushrooms we usually get from the store are saprophytic and are grown on sterile manure in dark rooms. 


Identifying mushrooms is difficult.  Mushrooms of the same species can be different sizes, colors, and shapes.  Young mushrooms are different from old mushrooms.  One way to identify mushrooms is to use MycoKeys on the internet.  The key asks you questions about the cap, gills, and stype (the three main parts of a mushroom).  It also asks for size, spore print, texture of the stipe, if a veil is present or an annulus around the stype.  The most comprehensive identification book is by David Arora called Mushrooms Demystified.   Of course it is essential that you are 100% certain of a mushroom's identification before eating one.  There several species of mushrooms that are poisonous and one group that is deadly.  The Amanita phalloides (death cap)  apparently looks like an edible mushroom from Eastern Europe and one from Mexico. It is a great activity with children to take a spore print.  Simply cut off the stype and place the cap with gill down on a piece of white paper and another on black paper.  Leave this undisturbed for a few hours or over night.  The color of the spores are essential in an accurate identification of a mushroom.

There are different names for mushrooms as with other life on earth.  There is a common name and the name that designates the genus and species.  Scientific names are in Latin.  Life forms on earth are classified in a hierarchy -- kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.  Although scientific names are difficult to pronounce, it is important to know the scientific names of mushrooms if you are interested in learning to identify them.  The names of mushrooms are changing often with the advent of DNA sequencing.   


For some reason research on mushrooms is limited, however, there are some interesting studies linking the health of bee hives with mycelium.  There are apparently health benefits from Trametes versicolor (Turkey Tails) that have been studied.  Apparently these mushrooms boost people's immunity and may inhibit viruses.  It is of note that penicillin is derived from fungus.  Researchers who study mushrooms tend to not be taken seriously due perhaps to our strange biases toward mushrooms.


There are certain wild mushrooms that have exquisite and rich flavors.  Again, no one should eat a mushroom unless they are 100% certain of the identification.  It is not enough that it looks like a picture in a book or on a website.  It is best to have an expert help with identification and be willing to join you for dinner. The Boletus edulis (porcini) mushroom is a favorite flavor in Italian cooking and is found along the coast after rains in the fall.  Shaggy Parasols (Chlorophyllum rhacodes) are good to eat for some people but not others and there are several others that look like it that will make you very sick.  Perhaps the most savory mushroom is the black trumpet (Craterellus cornucopioides) that also grows along the coast.  Chanterelles are prized but one species that has a different scaly texture to the cap is poisonous.  Mushrooms need to be cooked for a variety of reasons.  The cells of mushrooms have chiton for cell walls.  Chiton is not digestible.  When a mushroom is cooked the nutrients in the cells are released.  There are several mushrooms that are poisonous raw but when cooked are edible. 


Thank you to Damon Tighe for helping with the identification of the mushrooms in the pictures below.  Glen Cove is an amazing area for mushrooms!

Lepiota delicata (just below the playground border)

Lepiota delicata.jpg

Amanita velosa (found on upper bike path under oak in March)

Amanita velosa.jpg

Suillus pungens (from the front of the school by the pine trees)


Trametes veriscolor (Turkey Tails, upper playground on dead stump by P-1)


Stereum hirsutum (below the playground)


Chlorophyllum rhacodes (Shaggy Parasol, just off the lower playground)


Paxillus involutus (poisonous mushroom, Glen Cove Parkway under oak)


Bovista plumbea (small puffballs, lower playground)

Bovista plumbea.jpg

Tricholoma practicum (BBQ area below the playground)

Tricholoma practicum.jpg

Tricholoma myomyces (BBQ lawn area below the school)

Tricholoma myomyces.jpg

Tricholoma dryophilum (tree area below the entrance of the school)


Clitocybe nuda (blewit from just below the school in the tree areas)


Lactarius xanthogalactus (tree area just below the school entrance)

Lactarius xanthagalactus yellow latex.jpg

Hebeloma crustuliniforme (BBQ lawn area just below the school)


Entoloma lividoalbum


Lactarius alnicola (Golden Milk Cap, just below the front entrance under oak trees)

Lactarius alnicola.jpg

Russula (maybe Russula brevipes, upper bike path and all over)


Clitocybe nuda (older blewits)


Laccaria amythesteo-occidentalis (most likely identification)


Dead Man's Foot -- Pisolithus arrhizus (very large specimen on Glen Cove Parkway)

Deadman's Foot.jpg

Helvella vespertina (from under pine trees in front of the school)