Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mushrooms Identified - Frost's Bolete, Velvet-Footed Pax, Viscid Violet Cort

Here is another trio of mushrooms we feel we can identify out in the wild. All three of these mushrooms are technically edible, but with many cautions and degrees of desirability. We won't bother experimenting with them as there are so many other wonderful edible mushrooms to eat. Learning to identify all of the mushrooms we find, as opposed to just the ones we can eat, is a surprising benefit to our mushrooming education. I can't stress enough how important it is to join your local mycology group and learn, and how much fun it can be!
underside of Frost's Bolete and the amber colored droplets
Boletus frostii is a beautiful bolete we ran across in August in great numbers after Tropical Storm Irene drenched the area with rain. Commonly referred to a Frost's bolete, we were amazed by some very young specimens and the amber colored drops covering the underside of the cap on the pores. The pores are red, usually indicating a bolete that may induce stomach upset, so we don't bother to eat it. The cap is red and slimy, and 2"-6" (5-15 cm) wide, and the flesh bruises blue when cut. The stem is deeply webbed, red, thick and about 1"-4" (3-10 cm) long, often yellowing and thickening at the base. This bolete grows on the ground under oaks or in a mixed forest, ranging from Canada to Florida along the east coast, west to Michigan. The spore print we took was a dark olive-brown and difficult to make since our specimens were so fresh and wet.

Slimy Violet Cort
Cortinarius iodes is a mushroom we have encountered at just about every location we visited in late summer. The Viscid Violet Cort lives up to its name, having a thickly slimy top. The cap is smooth and purple, aging to a paler violet with yellow spots, 1"-2" (2.5-5 cm) wide. The gills are violet, often stained rust-colored from the spores and attached to the stalk. There may be cobwebby remains of the veil present on the gills. The stalk is solid and purplish, tacky and sometimes enlarged at the bottom. The spore print we took was a rusty brown. Violet cort grows on the ground under mixed forests and deciduous forests, and is widespread in eastern North America. There are indications that it is edible, but bitter and not very good. The slime is enough to make us not want to bother.

Velvet-footed Pax
Paxillus atrotomentosus or Tapinella atrotomentosa are two names given to this pretty mushroom. We learned it as a Paxillus, but it may be more correctly ID'ed as Tapinella due to where it grows, as explained on Mushroom Expert. Commonly it is referred to the Velvet-Footed Pax due to its velvety stem. The cap can be 1"-5" (3-13 cm) wide, flat or sunken in the center, light brown, and dry. The flesh is solid and tough. The gills are light and yellowish and descending the stalk slightly. The stalk is the interesting part, as it is usually dark brown and fuzzy, off center, and 1"-4" (3-10 cm) long. The spore print we took was a yellowish-brown. Velvet-footed pax grows on decaying wood and stumps, usually pine, in the coniferous forests on the east and west coasts. Edibility is again questionable, unpalatable, and there is a poisonous look-alike, Paxillus involutus.

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