Monthly Archives: July 2013

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    A Sweet Reference… Natural Sweetener Substitutes for White Sugar

A Sweet Reference… Natural Sweetener Substitutes for White Sugar

To replace white sugar, try these substitutions:

Sweetener Amount to replace 1 cup sugar Adjustments to recipe
* If you use barley malt or brown rice syrups in baked goods, be aware that a natural enzyme in these sweeteners may liquefy the consistency of the batter. This is more likely when eggs are not used. To prevent liquefying eggless recipes, first boil the barley malt or brown rice syrup for 2 to 3 minutes, cool, then measure and use.** For each 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, reduce salt by 1/4 teaspoon.*** Do not substitute more than half the sugar in a recipe with molasses; blackstrap molasses is not sweet.Tip: If the recipe doesn’t call for any liquid, add 4 to 6 tablespoons of flour for each cup of liquid sweetener substituted for sugar.
Agave 3/4 cup Reduce liquid in recipe by one-third to one-half. Reduce baking temperature 25 degrees.
Barley malt syrup* 1 1/3 cup Reduce liquids by one-fourth. Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda for each cup syrup to help baked goods rise.**
Brown rice syrup* 1 1/4 cup Reduce liquid by one-fourth and add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda for each cup syrup to help baked goods rise.**
Date sugar 1 cup none
Frozen juice concentrate 2/3 cup Reduce liquids by one-third and add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per cup of concentrate.**
Honey 1/2 cup Reduce liquids by one-eighth. Reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees and cook a bit longer.
Maple syrup 1/2 to 2/3 cup Reduce liquid by one-fourth and add 1 teaspoon baking soda per cup of syrup.**
Molasses 1 1/3 cup sweet molasses Reduce liquid by 6 tablespoons and add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda per cup of molasses.***
Stevia Read labels for powder, liquid or concentrate. Follow suggestions on product label.
Sugar cane juice
(Rapadura, Sucanat, muscovado, turbinado, demerara)
1 cup none
Xylitol or Zero, granulated 1 cup none

This chart is from PCC Natural Markets, a large natural food co-op in Washington State. I saw this chart reposted in Urban Farms Magazine and thought it was great. I am not a fan of white sugar for a number of reasons, and this chart is a great reference for substitutions. If you are unsure of what any of these items are, click on the PCC link above. This page provides a brief explanation.

 

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Photo References:

  • https://www.cocomamafoods.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/76127689-462×312.jpg

 

Making a Mushroom Patch: Shaggy Mane Mushrooms

I wanted to write a quick article outlining how I created another mushroom patch over the weekend. As I said in my previous article (Making a Mushroom Patch: King Stropharia (Garden Giant) Mushrooms), this is an experiment, for as far as I can tell, there has not been any mushroom cultivation on this island in the Azores. The Azoreans as a whole are fairly fungophobic (please see my article on Fighting Fungophobia for more details). If there has been mushroom cultivation on any of the Azorean islands, I am fairly certain it was not for edible, gourmet mushrooms, if you know what I mean.

For those of you who have never attempted growing your own mushrooms, the idea can seem a bit overwhelming. I will take you through how I set up my patch, step by step. It is really rather simple. In my opinion, there should be at least one Mushroom Patch in every garden around the world.

As I explained in my previous article, I ordered my mushroom spawn from Fungi Perfecti. This fantastic company has always had great customer service and quality products. I highly recommend them. Also, I plan on performing a number of experiments with a variety of mushroom species. I started with Stropharia rugosoannulata, also known as the King Stropharia, the Garden Giant, Wine Cap Stropharia, and Burgundy Mushroom. This project is with Coprinus comatus, also known as the Shaggy Mane and the Shaggy Ink Cap. I wrote a more indepth article about the Shaggy Mane mushroom which you can read if you are interested. It is very common around the world. The genus, Coprinus, literally means “living on dung”. For the Shaggy Mane, this means it grows well on rotted or composted manure which is what I am using for my project. The 6-12 months it takes for the mycelium to spread through and breakdown the manure before it produces mushrooms is plenty of time for harmful pathogens to be die off. Also, mushrooms should be cooked!

However, Shaggy Mane mushrooms can also grow in rich compost if you are nervous or repulsed by using manure. This is also considered one of the easiest mushrooms to grow outdoors.  I would agree after setting up this Mushroom Patch. Let me show you…

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This is how the box shipped from Fungi Perfecti.

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Inside the box was this plastic bag filled with wood chips and sawdust, white with Shaggy Mane mycelium!

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Here is the location of the mushroom bed. Just on the other side of the compost bin is my initial King Stropharia Mushroom Patch. For the same reasons, I placed this patch next to my compost bin. Close enough for regular monitoring and watering (if needed), but out of the way.

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I removed the grass and any sticks and large rocks from the area. It is about 3 feet square (0.9 meters).

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I piled on a load of moderately well processed compost, a thin layer of straw/crass clippings, and then about fifteen gallons of manure. The manure was probably about 1-2 weeks old. I rescued it from a corner of an open barn where cattle and sheep were being raised.

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Next, I crumbled the mushroom spawn (the white block in the photo above) over the patch and watered everything until the pile was wet.

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Finally, I mixed all the layers together very well to evenly distribute the spawn, and then I watered it all again very well. I then covered it in some dried garden clippings. And now I wait…

 

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Photo References:

  • All photos (other than the one of the mushrooms) are mine. Please ask if you would like to use them. Thanks!

 

Permaculture Plants: Saffron

Common Name: Saffron Crocus

Scientific Name: Crocus sativus
Family: Iridaceae (the Iris family)

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The stigmas from the Saffron Crocus are the most expensive spice in the world!

Description:
Saffron is a small plant known throughout the world for its flowers which produce bright crimson stigmas used as a spice. The plant is fairly easy to grow and makes a nice addition to the Herbaceous Layer of the Forest Garden; however, ideal conditions are needed for the plant to flower. Many people are intimidated by this, so they don’t even try growing this plant. While it is cultivated mostly in Mediterranean climates of the world today, it was commercially raised in Britain and by the Pennsylvania Dutch in America. You may get a good yield only once every few years, but a little Saffron goes a long way. I strongly recommend trying your hand at growing Saffron… the most expensive spice in the world!

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Saffron Crocus (Crocus sativus)

History:
There are no Saffron Crocuses in the wild. This plant likely derives from the Wild Saffron (Crocus cartwrightianus), native to Greece, but it may come from C. thomassi or C. pallasii as well. No matter how it was developed, it is considered a sterile mutant plant… unable to produce viable seed (technically it is a self-incompatible, male-sterile, triploid). It has been raised by dividing and replanting the corm (bulb-like structure) for over 3,000 years. Used by the Assyrians, Sumerians, Persians, Greeks, and Egyptians, it spread through China and Mongolia to the east, and with the Roman Empire to Europe in the west. It is now used, and prized, around the world.

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Saffron thrives in the Mediterranean, but can grow in a lot of climates.

Trivia:

  • Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. Each plant produces up to 4 flowers and each flower produces 3 stigmas (aka “strands”). It takes 150,000 flowers and 400 hours of work to yield 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) of dried Saffron!
  • Fortunately, most family-sized recipes call for only 10-20 strands of Saffron.
  • Due to its high price, many Saffron substitutes exist: safflower, annatto, tumeric, and even marigold flowers.
  • In the 15th Century, the Safranschou code was put in place in Nuremberg (part of modern day Germany) to curb imposter Saffron. Violators could be fined, imprisoned, and even executed!
  • In 1374, the theft of a shipment bound for Basel sparked the 14-week-long “Saffron War” between Basel (in modern day Switzerland) and Austria.
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A small plant, smaller flower, and a tiny harvest. 

USING THIS PLANT

Primary Uses:

  • Edible Flower Parts – The flower styles and stigmas (see photos above) are  a common spice and yellow dye for food. Classically used in Indian, Persian, Arabian, Turkish, and European cuisine. They are allowed to dry out before being stored. Can also be used to make a tea. Remember, a little Saffron goes a long way!

Secondary Uses:

  • General insect (especially bees) nectar plant
  • Ornamental Plant
  • Dye Plant – the same stigmas used for food are also used to dye cloth yellow. A blue or green dye can be made from the petals of the flowers as well.

Yield: Each Saffron plant bears up to four flowers. Each flower bears three stigmas. Yield is extremely low!
Harvesting: Cut open flowers in the morning. Carefully remove the stigmas (the red/orange part) with your fingers. Allow to air dry without using high heat (dehydrator on the lowest setting or on a screen in a warm, dry room). Leave the plant to grow (without the flowers) for the remained of the season.
Storage: Store as you would any other dried herb, in a dry, cool, dark location.

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Saffron plants do not take a lot of room and don’t make a good groundcover. 

DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zone 6-9
AHS Heat Zone: Zone 9-6
Chill Requirement: Likely, but no reliable information is available.

Plant Type: Small Herbaceous Plant
Leaf Type: Deciduous
Forest Garden Use: Herbaceous Layer
Cultivars/Varieties: There are a few varieties available.

Pollination: Saffron is considered a sterile plant, so sexual reproducion via pollination does not really occur… but it is likely not self-pollinating if it would produce sexually.
Flowering: Late Spring to early Summer (May-June)

Life Span:

  • Years to Begin Flowering: 3-5 years from seed, but only 1-2 years from corms.
  • Years of Useful Life: No good information available. Considering that the plants can be propagated from corm division, an individual’s life span is likely irrelevant.
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Three to four flowers per plant is typical.

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Saffron vegetatively reproduces via a corm, a bulb-like structure.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT

Size: 6 -12 inches (15-30 cm) tall and wide
Roots: Clumping pattern with corms
Growth Rate: Medium

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Harvesting Saffron is still done all by hand.

GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT

Light: Prefers full sun
Shade: Tolerates light shade, but does not grow as well
Moisture: Prefers medium moisture soils.
pH: 5.5-8.5 (tolerates a wide range of soil conditions)

Special Considerations for Growing:

  • It is recommended to plant the corms or dormant plants in late Summer.
  • Saffron grows best in a Mediterranean climate, but if you live in a non-Mediterranean climate, you can still try growing this plant. Just choose the hottest, driest Summer location for your plantings. They can tolerate cool to cold Winters. Wet Spring and dry Summer is ideal. If your conditions are not great, the plant will not flower. I am not planning on living in a Mediterranean climate. I have in the past when I lived in Turkey, but this is not my favorite climate to live. I still plan to plant Saffron on my land. If I only get flowers once every three or five years, I am just fine with that. I don’t use this spice a whole lot, and a little goes a long way. The plants will still be a great addition to the Herbaceous Layer, and when they do flower, it will be that much more special!

Propagation:

  • While Saffron is considered a sterile mutant plant (unable to produce viable seed), it will occasionally produce seed, but almost all of it is non-viable. Seed is planted immediately, and germination can take 1-6 months.
  • Typically, and by far most commonly, Saffron is propagated through the corm. This is a small, bulb-like structure that develops underground. A mature corm will produce up to 10 small corms which can be dug up, divided after the growing season (when the top growth has died down), and replanted. Each corm will develop into a new plant.

Maintenance:
Minimal. Most non-commercial growers dig up and divide their corms (and replant a patch) every 3-6 years. Division of corms is not manditory, but the patch will spread at a slower rate.

Concerns:

  • If a whole lot of Saffron (5 grams) is consumed, it could be deadly… that is the harvest from 750 flowers!

 

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Photo References:

  • http://www.creakeabbey.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Four-saffron-flowers-Medium.jpg
  • http://sushantsupriya.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Saffron-Kesar.jpg
  • http://www.kashmirkesarkingdom.com/images/aboutsaffron.jpg
  • http://www.europeansaffron.eu/archivos/20060531195558.jpg
  • http://www.europeansaffron.eu/archivos/20061030212438.jpg
  • http://nickfleming.com/media/2011/11/Saffron-Harvest-Nick-Fleming-1793×1200.jpg
  • http://terrygardens.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/img_2037.jpg
  • http://d3515qaf3aty6m.cloudfront.net/f7bc62a37656d71fe8a18d363690db7f/gallery/1350805090-IMG_0957.JPG-original.jpg
  • http://www.europeansaffron.eu/archivos/20060525092730.jpg
  • http://faestwistandtango.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/saffron-plant-flower.jpg
  • http://vintageprintable.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/a-curious-herbal-illustration-of-crocus-saffron-p144.jpg

 

Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Two: 11-20)

As I discussed in my recent article, Fighting Fungophobia (or Mycophobia) …the fear of mushrooms, here is a list of 70 Distinctive Mushrooms.

Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part One: 1-10)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Two: 11-20)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Three: 21-30)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Four: 31-40 )
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Five: 41-50)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Six: 51-60)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Seven: 61-70)

This list of mushrooms comes from David Arora, mycologist extraordinaire and author of Mushrooms Demystified and All That the Rain Promises and More. I’ve added photos and a brief paragraph about reported edibility, characteristics, distribution, and habitat. Remember, this is not meant to be an identification guide but rather an introduction to some pretty amazing and representative mushrooms. The mushrooms on this list are all found in the United States (my home), but the majority are also found outside of North America.

A quick note on edibility: I am listing whether the mushroom is considered Edible or Poisonous or Deadly Poisonous. Understand that all mushrooms should be cooked before being eaten. Even edible mushrooms can cause gastrointestinal upset (nausea, vomiting, stomach cramping, and/or diarrhea) if the mushrooms are not cooked. Yes, some people can handle raw mushrooms in small amounts (mainly just the common, grocery store “button mushrooms”), but most will succumb to symptoms if they eat enough raw mushrooms, especially wild mushrooms. Also, note that some edible mushrooms may cause gastrointestinal symptoms for some individuals and none for other individuals. One species may cause some symptoms for one person but not for another. It is variable. If it is your first time consuming a new type of mushrooms, go slow. Eat a little bit one day, and if you do well, then consume a bit more the next day. If you still have no problems, then you can likely eat that type of mushroom with no issues. Finally, note that most anyone has a good chance of getting gastrointestinal symptoms if they eat an excessively large amount of mushrooms of any type. Just like if a person eats a whole pot of bean-laden chili… watch out! Keep it in moderation, but have fun!

Seventy mushroom listings and photographs will take a lot of space, so I am going to break the list up into ten species segments. I recommend reading David Arora’s books as well as some local field guides. Then go outside and get to know the fungus among us… er, you, I mean.

Here are the next ten:

11. Jack-O-Lantern Mushrooms (Omphalotus species)
12. Blewitt (Clitocybe nuda)
13. Man On Horseback (Tricholoma equestre)
14. White Matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare)
15. Honey Mushroom (Armillariella mellea group)
16. Fairy Ring or Scotch Bonnet Mushroom (Marasmius oreades)
17. Death Cap (Amanita phalloides)
18. Destroying Angels (Amanita ocreata, A. verna, A. virosa, A. bisporigera)
19. Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)
20. Ceasar’s Amanita (Amanita caesarea group)

Here is the list again with photos and accompanying paragraph of additional information:

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Jack-O-Lantern Mushrooms (Omphalotus species)

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Jack-O-Lantern Mushrooms (Omphalotus species)

11. Jack-O-Lantern Mushrooms (Omphalotus species): Poisonous. Causes profuse sweating and gastrointestinal distress. Sometimes confused with Chanterlles (Cantharellus cibarius), which we will review later; however, the Chanterelle has white flesh, while the Jack-O-Lantern has flesh about the same color as the cap. These bright orange to yellow-orange mushrooms (with occasional olive tones in the western North American species) often glow in the dark! Cap size: 1.6-6.3 inches (4-16 cm), may get to 9.8 inches (25 cm). Found in forests around the world, on or around hardwood trunks, stumps, or buried wood.

 

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Blewitt (Clitocybe nuda)

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Blewitt (Clitocybe nuda)

12. Blewitt (Clitocybe nuda): Edible (very good). Distinct purple hue that is more subdued in North American varieties. Color is darker in mature speciments, lighter in younger ones. Said to have an odor reminiscent of frozen orange juice concentrate. Cap size: 1.6-5.5 inches (4-14 cm), but can get to 7.1 inches (18 cm). Common in Europe and North American, and also in Australia where it was been introduced.  Found growing in organic matter (woods, brush, compost piles), commonly in leaf litter. Often growing in an arc or ring (a.k.a. Fairy Ring).

 

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Man On Horseback or Yellow Knight (Tricholoma flavovirens or T. equestre)

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Man On Horseback or Yellow Knight (Tricholoma flavovirens or T. equestre)

13. Man On Horseback or Yellow Knight (Tricholoma flavovirens or T. equestre): Deadly Poisonous. Traditionally, this was a highly regarded mushroom, very popular in Europe. David Arora states it is excellent and flavorful in his book… written 25 years ago. In the last fifteen years, there have been some reports of poisoning after ingesting this mushroom, including a few deaths, all in Europe. How can a mushroom that has been eaten, and prized, for so long suddenly start killing people?

– It could be that people were dying from this mushroom for a long time, but it was though to be something else… the people who died from this mushroom got sick 3-4 days after ingestion.
– It could be that the poisoning was wrongly attributed to this mushroom… this is unlikely, as I found the medical journal articles discussing these poisonings, and the mushrooms were reported to be positively identified.
– It could be that the people had allergic reactions and not a “poisoning”… again, unlikely, as these patient had well documented poisoning, not allergic reactions.
– It could be that only some people react to a compound in this mushroom while others do not… this is possible, as the specific toxin has not been identified.
– It could be that sometimes this mushroom produces a compound that is poisonous and sometimes it does not… this possibility is most worrisome, but also not likely.
– It could be that the mushroom produces a compound that is not significant when consumed in small amounts… very possible, as all the victims consumed three consecutive meals of the mushrooms; maybe our body just cannot handle too much of this compound.

Bottom line, there are too many questions. I will just avoid this mushroom as there as so many others that are edible and not controversial! Cap size: inches 1.6-3.9 inches (4-10 cm), but can get to 7.9 inches (20 cm). Common in Europe and North America, at least. Found in grassy, sandy, or shrubby areas typically with Pine (Pinus species), but has been found with Aspen (Populus species) and Madrone (Arbutus species).

 

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White Matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare)

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White Matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare)

14. White Matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare, previously Armillaria ponderosa): Edible (highly prized in Asia). Likely the same species as the Japanese Tricholoma matsutake, which can sell for $2,000 per kilogram (roughly $1,000 per lb)! The appearance is a rather non-descript (to my non-professional eyes), large, white mushroom. The odor is the key to identification, and it is caused by the production of methyl cinnamate and 1-octen-3-ol… most people just say they smell like Red Hots and dirty socks! Cap size: 2-7.9 inches (5-20 cm), but can get to 13.8 inches (35 cm). Common in Asia and in the Pacific Northwest of North America, but can be found throughout northern North America all the way to the east coast (including Cape Cod). Found growing in forests, thickets, and in pine barrens, under mixed conifers, second-growth Douglas Fir, or under acid-loving (ericaceous) shrubs.

 

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Honey Mushroom (Armillaria mellea)

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Honey Mushroom (Armillaria mellea)

15. Honey Mushroom (Armillaria mellea group): Edible. There are a number of closely related species here known as the Honey Mushrooms, for their color, not their taste. Some consider them a nice substitute for Shiiitake mushrooms. These mushrooms can have a lot of shapes and colors, but there are six relatively constant identifiers: (1) they have a veil (the structure attached to the stalk that originally covered the gills). (2) a tough, fibrous stalk. (3) small, dark hairs on the cap. (4) bitter taste when raw. (5) it grows only on wood, although sometimes the wood is buried under the soil. (6) white to faintly yellow spores, a dusting of white spore dust will be seen on the mushrooms at the bottom of a cluster. Also, the mycelium may glow at night, which can may cause a tree or stump to glow… this is one cause of the phenomenon known as “Fox Fire”. Cap size: 1.2-5.9 inches (3-15 cm). Found almost all around the world. Always found growing on wood, stumps, logs, and even living trees (it can be a parasite to good trees). Found on a wide range of timber, nut, fruit, and garden trees and shrubs.

 

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Fairy Ring or Scotch Bonnet Mushroom (Marasmius oreades)

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Fairy Ring or Scotch Bonnet Mushroom (Marasmius oreades)

16. Fairy Ring or Scotch Bonnet Mushroom (Marasmius oreades): Edible (highly prized in Europe). While often growing in rings in grass, this mushroom doesn’t have to grow in a complete ring. It may grow in an arch (half-ring); also, other mushrooms grow in rings! Interestingly, the outer border of the ring will be filled with lush green grass as the mycelium spreads and helps provide nutrients to the grass; however, on the inside of the ring, the grass will often be growing poorly because the nutrients have all been consumed. This mushroom is a bit harder to identify due to its smaller size and non-unique appearance, but the cap has an umbo (or raised center… hence the name Scotch Bonnet) which will help identify it. Cap size: 0.4-2 inches (1-6 cm), but usually 0.8-1.6 (2-4 cm). Found extensively throughout North America and Europe in Summer and Autumn. Found in grass, lawns, and meadows.

 

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Death Cap (Amanita phalloides)

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Death Cap (Amanita phalloides)

17. Death Cap (Amanita phalloides): Deadly Poisonous. It is taught that every person should be able to identify the Death Cap before they eat any mushroom with gills. So here are the telltale charactersistics: (1) white gills. (2) white spores. (3) partial veil covering the gills, then breaking to form a skirtlike ring or annulus near the top of the stalk. (4) membranous white sack (a.k.a. the “volva”) at the base of the stalk. (5) margin of the cap is not striate. This may sound a bit confusing, but once you see them illustrated in a good guide book, they are easy to identify in nature. Older mushrooms will have a very bad odor (“odor of death”). Interestingly, these mushrooms apparently taste good, but 6-24 hours after ingestion, symptoms can occur and may be deadly. This mushroom is the number one cause of mushroom-related deaths worldwide. Cap: 1.6-6.3 inches (4-16 cm). Found pretty much across the globe, but originating in Europe. Found in woods or grass near trees.

 

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Destroying Angel (Amanita ocreata)

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Destroying Angel (Amanita verna)

18. Destroying Angels (Amanita ocreata, A. verna, A. virosa, A. bisporigera): Deadly Poisonous. There are a number of species with the common name Destroying Angel. Fortunately, they are all very similar – they are all entirely white (but can discolor with age), they have a fragile ring (annulus) around the stalk which often shreds, and they have a membranous white sack (a.k.a. the “vola”) at the base of the stalk. After reading about the Death Cap (above) and the Destroying Angels, unless you are a mushroom expert, just avoid eating any white, gilled mushroom with an annulus and a volva. Cap: 1.6-6.3 inches (4-16 cm). Found all over the world. Typically found in or near the edges of forest or woodlands (broadleaf and conifer, especially oaks), but can be found in grass, lawns, and meadows near trees or shrubs.

 

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Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

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Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

19. Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria): Poisonous. This is the classic “mushroom” almost everyone thinks about or draws as a child. It is one of the easiest mushrooms to identify. While this mushroom only rarely causes death (one report states that no human deaths have occurred in modern times), people frequently get sick from it because it is considered one of the hallucinogenic mushrooms, and many people try experiment with it. The results are variable based on season, region, growing conditions, and a persons’ metabolism… not a good mushroom to play with. There are other, safer psychoactive mushrooms. Cap: 2-11.8 inches (5-30 cm), but can get to 15.75 inches (40 cm). Native to deciduous and conifer forests of the Northern Hemisphere, it has also been introduced to South America, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.

 

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Ceasar’s Amanita (Amanita caesarea)

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Ceasar’s Amanita (Amanita jacksonii)

20. Ceasar’s Amanita (Amanita caesarea group): Edible (highly prized in Europe). This is considered the safest Amanita mushroom to eat due to its bright orange color. The color can fade with age, sunlight, and heavy rains… so just don’t eat those! Cap: 2.8-7.9 inches (7-20 cm), but can get to 9.8 (25 cm). Found in northern Africa and southern Europe. In North America it is found in Arizona and New Mexico as well as in Mexico and Central America. There are a few very closely related species found in the eastern United States (The American Ceasar’s Mushroom, Amanita jacksonii is a common one),but some say they do not taste as good as the European species. Found with oak and conifers.

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 Photo References:

  • http://mushroomhobby.com/Gallery/Gilled%20Boletes/Omphalotus%20olearius/Omphalotus%20olearius%2019050-2.jpg
  • http://lh3.ggpht.com/-R4o7PlQMqHQ/TLjg2a1BNFI/AAAAAAAAG5s/oF-kKg5deZc/green-mushrooms-murawski-683673-lw.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c3/Clitocybe_nuda_60302.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Clitocybe_nuda(mgw-03).jpg
  • http://mushroomhobby.com/Gallery/Tricholoma/Tricholoma%20sejunctum/Tricholoma%20sejunctum%2024170-1%20(5).jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Tricholoma_equestre(das-2468).jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Tricholoma_magnivelare(mgw-04).jpg
  • http://mushroomhobby.com/Gallery/Tricholoma/Tricholoma%20magnivelare/Tricholoma%20magnivelare%200.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Armillaria_mellea(mgw-01).jpg
  • http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3170/2958853413_3d4d41a1f7_b.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Marasmius_oreades(fs-04).jpg
  • http://truffleandmushroomhunter.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/truffle-champ-and-truffles-gabe-031.jpg?w=1024&h=768
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/99/Amanita_phalloides_1.JPG
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/2011-10-26_Amanita_phalloides_(Fr.)_Link_177883.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fa/Amanita_ocreata_79782.jpg
  • http://www.cestaysetas.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Amanita-verna-1.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Amanita_muscaria_3_vliegenzwammen_op_rij.jpg
  • http://www.mushroomhobby.com/TOP_10_MISTAKES/Amanita%20muscaria.jpg
  • http://www.fungarolimatti.it/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Amanita-Caesarea3.jpg
  • http://mushrooms4health.com/mycelium/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/American-Caesar-stages.jpg

 

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    Making a Mushroom Patch: King Stropharia (Garden Giant) Mushrooms

Making a Mushroom Patch: King Stropharia (Garden Giant) Mushrooms

I wanted to write a quick article outlining how I created my new mushroom patch over the weekend. This is an experiment, for as far as I can tell, there has not been any mushroom cultivation on this island in the Azores. The Azoreans as a whole are fairly fungophobic (please see my article on Fighting Fungophobia for more details). If there has been mushroom cultivation on any of the Azorean islands, I am fairly certain it was not for edible, gourmet mushrooms, if you know what I mean.

For those of you who have never attempted growing your own mushrooms, the idea can seem a bit overwhelming. I will take you through how I set up my patch, step by step. It is really rather simple. In my opinion, there should be at least one Mushroom Patch in every garden around the world.

Before I begin, I want to explain two things. First, I ordered my mushroom spawn from Fungi Perfecti. This fantastic company has always had great customer service and quality products. I highly recommend them. Second, I plan on performing a number of experiments with a variety of mushroom species. I will share those projects as well. I chose to start with Stropharia rugosoannulata, also known as the King Stropharia, the Garden Giant, Wine Cap Stropharia, and Burgundy Mushroom. This mushroom is delicious, but not nearly well known as it should be. It reportedly can grow in a wide range of conditions which is one of the reasons I am starting my mushroom patch experiments with it.

So let me show you how easy this is…

StrophariaBeda

This is the box shipped in from Fungi Perfecti.

StrophariaBedb

Inisde the box was this plastic bag filled with wood chips and sawdust, white with King Stropharia mycelium!

StrophariaBed01

Here is the location of the mushroom bed. Just next to my compost bin. Close enough for regular monitoring and watering (if needed), but out of the way.

StrophariaBed03

I removed the grass and any sticks and large rocks from the area. It is 3 feet square (0.9 meters). I obtained one bucket (about 5 gallons or 19 L) of sawdust and two buckets of woodchips, all from the local Azorean Fire Tree (Myrica faya). The Myrica genus are contains the Bayberry, Wax-Myrtle, and Sweet Gale trees. This was the only source I could find that would not be tainted with the mycelium repellant wood of the cypress trees on this island. This project would not have been possible without the help of a fellow Permaculturist, Avelino, who has a small farm near my home.

StrophariaBed04

Once the patch was cleared, one half of the woodchips were placed on the patch area.

StrophariaBed05

Then one half of the sawdust was added to the patch.

StrophariaBed07

Next, I crumbled the mushroom spawn (the white block in the photo above) over the patch and watered everything until it was wet to the soil underneath.

StrophariaBed09

I then added the remaining woodchips and sawdust over the spawn.

StrophariaBed10

Finally, I mixed all the layers together very well to evenly distribute the spawn, and then I watered it all again very well.

StrophariaBed11

King Stropharia does not grow well in direct sunlight. You can see from the shadows, that at least half of the bed would receive significant light each day. I constructed a frame with a piece of metal tubing I found lying around and a few canes of Giant Reed growing near my house that I had saved and dried from last year.

StrophariaBed12

The last step was to place an old tarp over the frame and lash it down. You can see that the whole patch is in shade. Now comes the waiting!

So that is it. I plan to keep the wood chips moist, but not wet for a few months. Hopefully, the Winter rains will be starting at about that time, so I will not need to do any significant watering to induce fruiting. A fairly easy project for an afternoon.

Why don’t you grow your own?

 

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Photo References:

  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ac/2011-05-19_Stropharia_rugosoannulata_Farl._ex_Murrill_183478.jpg
  • All other photos are mine. Please ask if you would like to use them. Thanks!

 

Permaculture Plants: Water Lotus

Common Name: Lotus, Water Lotus

Scientific Name: Nelumbo species
Family: Nelumbonaceae (the Lotus family) formerly within the Nymphaeaceae family (the Water Lily family)

AmericanLotus04

The rhizome (root) of the Water Lotus is a delicious food most common in Asian cuisine.

Common Species (well actually all of them, since there are only two):

  • American or Yellow Water Lotus (Nelumbo lutea)
  • Sacred or Chinese or Indian Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)
SacredLotus01

The Sacred Water Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)
The American Water Lotus (Nelumbo lutea) is pictured at the top of the page.

Description:
The Water Lotus is an important food in Asian cuisine, and it has widespread religious and cultural significance through its natural range. Native Americans used their native species for food as well. In the modern Western world, it is a common decorative aquatic plant grown for its very large, fragrant flowers. With its edible roots, stems, leaves, and seeds, and with varieties that can grow to Zone 4, it is one of the most useful aquatic plants to be used in the Forest Garden.

Lotus

Left: Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)
Right: American Water Lotus (Nelumbo lutea)

History:
The Sacred Lotus (N. nucifera) is native to the tropical regions on Asia and Australia, and the American Water Lotus (N. lutea) is native to eastern and central North and Central America. However, these species were carried about by native peoples who spread them all over their respective continents, wherever they would grow. Initially, a food source with widespread religious significance, the Water Lotus eventually became more well known (mainly in Western cultures) as an attractive decorative water plant. However, in Asia, it is still used as a common food plant.

AmericanLotus06

Note the mostly circular leaves without a cleft.

Trivia:

  • The Water Lotus is often mistaken for the Water Lily (flowering water plants of the Nymphaeaceae family)
  • Water Lotus have circular leaves, with no clefts, and a somewhat central stem; Water Lilies typically have cleft leaves
  • The Lotus flowers can heat up and sustain a temperature of 86 F (30 C), even when the air temperature is 50 F (10 C), in order to attract pollinating insects… the increased heat benefits the insects by creating a warm environment for them
  • N. nucifera is the national flower of Egypt, India, and Vietnam
SacredLotus02

The seed head (with visible seeds in their holes) are often dried and used as an ornamental addition to flower arrangements, although the seeds are still a common food in Asia.

SacredLotus06

The original use, and still primary use in much of the world, is for the tasty roots!

http://justhungry.com/how-cook-lotus-root-renkon

USING THIS PLANT

Primary Uses:

  • Ornamental Plant – beautiful flowers with a sweet aroma; the dried seed head is used in floral arrangements
  • Edible Root – cooked as a vegetable; American Water Lotus (Nelumbo lutea) ususally needs to be steeped in water to remove the bitterness, but during cooking it develops good flavor, like a sweet potato. Sacred or Indian Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) has a mild, crunchy flavor, highly prized in Asian cooking… Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, etc.  This is the only species of Water Lotus I have eaten, and it is quite good. The roots can also be pickled. Note that the root will turn brown quickly after exposed to air, so treat them like freshly cut apples to avoid browning (lemon juice works well).

Secondary Uses:

  • Edible Stems – peeled and cooked; reportedly tastes like a beet.
  • Edible Leaves – only the young ones are recommended (before they open all the way); can be eated raw or cooked as a vegetable; traditionally the large, older leaves are used to wrap other food while cooking
  • Edible Seeds – raw or dried or cooked; often eaten like peas when fresh (young), but need to have the shell removed first; dried seeds can be popped like popcorn
  • Edible Flowers – petals are used in soups and as a garnish
  • Flour – older seeds can be dried and ground into a flour; can be added to cereal flours for bread making. The flour can be used as a thickening agent in soups, stews, and sauces.
  • Tea Plant – the dried stamens are used to make a tea

Yield: Variable.
Harvesting: Roots (tubers/Rhizomes) can be harvest year round, but reportedly best in Autumn. Young leaves can be harvested through the growing season. Flowers are harvested Summer through Autumn. Seeds and seed heads are harvested in late Summer through Autumn.
Storage: Use within a few days fresh.

AmericanLotus02

Water Lotus can get large, but are still beautiful and useful, so plan accordingly.

DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT

USDA Hardiness Zone:

  • American Water Lotus (Nelumbo lutea): Zone 4-11
  • Sacred or Indian Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera): Zone 8-12 for most varieties, but there are some available growing in Zone 4 and 5.

AHS Heat Zone:

  • American Water Lotus (Nelumbo lutea): Zone 12-1
  • Sacred or Indian Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera): Zone 12-3

Chill Requirement: no reliable information is available.

Plant Type: Aquatic Plant
Leaf Type: Deciduous
Forest Garden Use: Aquatic/Wetland Layer
Cultivars/Varieties: There are a number of varieties available which have been developed mainly for the ornamental flower

Pollination: Self-fertile; pollinated by insects
Flowering: Mid-Summer through Autumn

Life Span:

  • Years to Maximum Flowering: typically Water Lotuses bloom in their second summer
  • Years of Useful Life: No good information available as we typically harvest bulbs and eat them. Considering that the plants can be propagated from bulb division, an individual’s life span is likely irrelevant.
SacredLotus04

These fresh seeds are edible raw or they can be cooked like peas.

SacredLotus03 copy

The rhizomes (roots) start small and fragile.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT

Size:

  • American Water Lotus (Nelumbo lutea): 3-5 feet (0.9-1.6 meters) above the water line
  • Sacred or Indian Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera): 4-6 feet (1.2-1.8 meters) above the water line

Roots: Rhizomatous
Growth Rate: Fast

SacredLotus05

The roots are said to taste best in Autumn, but it is not uncommon for professional harvesters (like this gentleman in Beijing) to harvest in Winter!

Here is his story:  http://english.caixin.com/2012-12-28/100478224_2.html

GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT

Light: Prefers full sun
Shade: Tolerates light shade
Moisture: This is a fully aquatic species
pH: prefers a neutral to acidic soil (around 4.6), but can tolerate a wide range of water pH (up to 9.3)

Special Considerations for Growing:

  • Water Lotus can grow in waterlogged soil but usually prefers aquatic condition.
  • When planting or digging, remember that the root is fragile. If damaged, the Water Lotus will not grow the right way.
  • When planting the tuber, only embed it partially in the soil. Weigh it down to keep it from floating away. Then the roots will develop to anchor it in place and the tuber will bury itself as it desires.
  • Indian Lotus can grow in water up to 8 feet (2.5 meters) deep, and the American Water Lotus can grow in water up to 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) deep, but no shallower than 1 foot (30 cm).
  • Indian Lotus prefers water temperatures of 73-80F+ (23-27 C).
  • If in a cold climate, then shallower water is better – it will encourage earlier growth and a longer growing season as the shallower water warms up faster each Spring.
  • Indian Lotus requires a 5 month growing season and does not like humid climates.

Propagation: From seed – requires scarification of the seed (scratched with a knife or file carefully across the center, but avoid damaging the seed flesh). The seed is soaked in water, with twice daily water changes, until germination. The seedling is planted into soil and just covered with water; the depth increasing as the plant grows. Rhizomes can be divided when dormant (typically early Spring). Each segment with a growing “eye” can planted individually and will produce a new plant.

Maintenance:
If you live in a cold location, and you grow non-cold hardy varieties, then you will need to make sure the rhizomes are planted deep enough in the mud to protect the tubers from freezing, or you need to move the rhizomes into a warmer place to overwinter . I think it makes more sense, and makes for a lot less work, to just grow varieties that are suited to your climate zone.

Concerns:
Some sources call these plants invasive, but most people welcome the Water Lotus to their land.

 

 

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Photo References:

  • http://www.carsoncity.k12.mi.us/~hsstudent/wildflowers00/nelumbonaceae/nelumbolutea668.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/87/Parc_Floral_de_Paris_-_Nelumbo_lutea_001.JPG
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1c/Lotus_Nelumbo_nucifera_Seed_Head_2500px.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/27/Lotus_root.jpg
  • http://www.swsbm.com/NGSImages/Nelumbo_lutea.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0e/Nelumbo_nucifera_001.JPG/1280px-Nelumbo_nucifera_001.JPG
  • http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-WtndavaG5TU/UaL5geiJQ-I/AAAAAAAACVE/icLbm9HHJi8/s1600/Nelumbo-Nucifera.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d0/Nelumbo_nucifera_Blanco1.158-original.png
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e9/Nelumbo_nucifera5.jpg
  • http://i583.photobucket.com/albums/ss279/kreos123/Lotus%202013/CAM00225_zps8e3452d5.jpg
  • http://pickmeyard.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/green-lotus-seeds.jpg
  • http://img.caixin.com/2012-12-28/1356683686589342_840_560.jpg
  • http://justhungry.com/files/images/renkonnegiitame.jpg

 

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    Permaculture Tips: Tree Identification Apps for Mobile Devices

Permaculture Tips: Tree Identification Apps for Mobile Devices

While watching a video lecture from Geoff Lawton, he referenced LeafSnap (see below). This got me thinking about appropriate technologies we can use in our Permaculture designs. I wanted to share a few tree identification guides. Unfortunately for my international readers, these are just for North America. There are a few available for England (TreeID and ForestXplorer are two I know of).

LeafSnap

LeafSnap.com

LeafSnap is a tree identification app for Iphones and Ipads. This is the product of a collaboration between Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian. They use the technology in facial recognition software to identify tree leaves. After doing a bit of research, I think this program has the most potential, but it is not quite there yet. You need connectivity to a network, and not all places in the wilderness have it all the time. Because, this is a new program, the data recognition database is still being built. So the more people use the app, the better it gets… it learns as it grows. You take a photo and submit it, then the app gives you a listing of the possible tree choices. You look through the choices (and description and photos) and you can identify the tree. It is a bit more work, but it should get better and easier with time. But it is free, and has pretty good photos of all aspects of the tree (leaves, fruit, trunk, etc.).

 

Mynature

MyNature.com

MyNature Tree Guide is an app you need to buy (it costs $6.99 USD). Instead of visual recognition software to identify the tree, the user needs to work through an algorithm… simple yes or no questions that guide you to the right tree. I have used these in booklet form as well, and I really like this system. It is easy. It requires no connectivity. I haven’t spent a lot of time with the app yet, but I like it quite a bit. This will likely be my go to app until LeafSnap improves.

There are a number of other online tree identification guides, but these two are the only apps worth looking into right now. I do think the best online identification guide is What Tree is That by the Arbor Day Foundation. This uses a similar algorithm of simple yes or no questions as well… in fact, I think they are the first ones to take it mainstream for trees. I have used their booklets many times and really like them. And, for that matter, you can buy the booklets themselves on the Arbor Day Foundation website.

Take a look at these. Load them on your mobile device. I think it is wise to use technology in appropriate ways to further our knowledge and aid in building sustainability.

 

 

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Photo References:

  • http://www.creativitysparkslife.com/sheblogs/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/2-leaf-anniv-tree.jpg
  • All other photos are from the referenced sites.

 

Permaculture Plants: Sorbus Species

Common Name: Rowans, Whitebeams, Sorbs, Service Trees, Mountain Ashes

Scientific Name: Sorbus species (there is a push to divide the Sorbus genus)
Family: Rosaceae (the Rose family)

Sorbus_ServiceTree02

The Service Tree (Sorbus domestica) bear numerous tasty fruit!

Common Species:

  • Whitebeam (Sorbus aria): good wood; up to 0.625 inch (16 mm) oval, red fruit; mealy but sweet
  • Korean Mountain Ash (Sorbus alnifolia): good wood; up to 0.5 inch (13 mm) pink to purple fruit, mealy with a mild to spicy flavor
  • American Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana)
  • Rowan or European Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia): good wood; bitter but edible fruit
  • Showy or Northern Mountain Ash (Sorbus decora)
  • Devon Sorb Apple (Sorbus devoniensis):0.6 inch (15 mm) fruits; almond flavor, mealy texture
  • Service Tree or Sorb Tree (Sorbus domestica): good wood; 1.0-1.6 inch (2.5-4 cm) fruits shaped like small apples or pears depending on the variety, astringent until fully ripe, but then juicy, aromatic, and with a good flavor (tropical or pear-like). Cooking will remove the astringency of slightly under-ripe fruit.
  • Tibetan Whitebeam (Sorbus thibetica): 0.75 inch (19 mm) fruits, almond flavor, mealy texture
  • Wild Service Tree (Sorbus torminalis): good wood; 0.3-0.6 inch (10-15 mm) oval fruit with good flavor similar to a date (pictured at top)
  • Yu’s Mountain Ash (Sorbus yuana): 0.75 inch (19 mm) pink to purple fruit with a spicy flavor
Sorbus03

The Sorbus trees produce showy flowers that attract beneficial insects.

Sorbus_Whitebeam01

Most of the Sorbus species can be used as ornamentals as well as windbreak trees.
Whitebeam (Sorbus aria)

Description:
It has been only recently (in the grand scheme of time) that the fruits from these trees have been replaced by the more “common” fruits in grocery stores, like apples and oranges; however, the Sorbus fruits were once very popular in Europe and have many uses from fresh eating to preserves to flavorings for beers and wines.  The wood of European and some Asian species are very high quality, very hard woods. The trees can be coppiced, can be a windbreak, can attract wildlife, and are ornamental as well. It is time we reconsider these almost forgotten trees in our Forest Gardens.

Sorbus02 Sorbus01

History:
Native to temperate forests of the Northern Hemisphere, the Sorbus genus contains about 200 species. They have long been used for their fruits and their wood. In more recent times, many of the species have been used as ornamentals, and a number have been improved to yield more and better-tasting fruits.

Trivia:

  • The Wild Service Tree’s fruits were fermented by the Romans to make a drink named cerevisia, which is the origin of the Spanish word, cerveza, or beer!
  • The Wild Service Tree’s species name, torminalis, is Latin meaning “good for colic”, a reference to its historical medicinal use
  • Many of the Sorbus species can pollinate each other and produce hybrids. Many of these hybrids are considered apomictic, that is they are self-fertile without the need of pollination. These plants are able to repoduce genetically identical copies of itself, i.e. cloning, through seed!
Sorbus_ServiceTree03

The Service Tree can produce apple-shaped or pear-shaped fruit!

USING THIS PLANT

Primary Uses:

  • Edible Fruit:
    • Raw – some improved varieties have good flavored fruit when raw. However, many of the fruits can be bletted – this is where the fruit is placed in a coold, dry place and allowed to significantly over-ripen, but not rot. The soft fruit will often have a sweet, tropical fruit flavor. Some trees will keep the fruit, and the bletting will start on the tree. Most fruits on the tree will turn sweeter after a frost.
    • Cooked – used in sauces and savory meals
    • Baked – used in pastries, tarts, pies, etc.
    • Preserved – used in Jams, Jellies, Preserves, etc.
    • Fruit Leather
    • Dried – miltiple references for drying these fruits with flavors ranging from prunes to dates
    • Primary or Secondary flavoring for Beers, Wines, Liquors, Cordials, etc. The Wild Service Tree was a traditional addition to beers before the spread of hops. Cider was, and still is today, flavored with fruits from the Service Trees.
    • Flour – the fruits from the Rowan (S. aucuparia), Whitebeam (S. aria), the American Mountain Ash (S. americana), and maybe other species as well, can be dried and ground into a flour and mixed with other cereal flours.
  • Tea Plant – Rowan (S. aucuparia) flowers and leaves have been used a tea substitute

Secondary Uses:

  • General insect (especially bees) nectar and pollen plant
  • Wildlife Food – many animals will eat the fruit through Autumn and Winter
  • Ornamental Plant- showy Spring flowers, bright Autumn reds and golds, bright fruit remaining after leaf-fall
  • Windbreak Species
  • Maritime Species – S. aucuparia, S. aria can tolerate salty conditions
  • Pollution-Tolerant Species – these trees can live in areas with high air pollution
  • Coppice Species – coppiced through Europe without a doubt, but I can find no time references instructing how long it takes to regrow before coppicing can occur again
  • Wood Species – Rowan is very hard and used for mallet heads, hoops for barrels, cogs, furniture, etc.; Service Tree used for furniture, wine presses; Whitebeam is hard, heavy, and good for beams (hence the name!); Wild Service Tree used for turning, carving, crafts, etc.
  • Firewood Species – vary aromatic
  • Charcoal

Yield: Once producing, these trees can produce about 30 pounds (13.5 kg) per tree.
Harvesting: Early to mid Autumn. Pick when the fruits are fully ripe if possible and the fruit begins to soften. Most fruits will ripen indoors in need be, but wait until the fruit softens before eating or processing.
Storage: Used fresh. Will store for a few weeks in a cool location.

Sorbus_Rowan01

The Rowan is an old tree that can still be used in modern designs.

Sorbus_Rowan02

The Rowan, like many of the Sorbus species, have easy to pick fruits.

DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT

USDA Hardiness Zone:

  • Whitebeam (Sorbus aria): Zone 5-9
  • Korean Mountain Ash (Sorbus alnifolia): Zone 4-8
  • American Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana): Zone 2-6
  • Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia): Zone 3-7
  • Showy Mountain Ash (Sorbus decora): Zone 2-6
  • Devon Sorb Apple (Sorbus devoniensis): Zone 6
  • Serice Tree or Sorb Tree (Sorbus domestica): Zone 4-10
  • Tibetan Whitebeam (Sorbus thibetica): Zone 6
  • Wild Service Tree (Sorbus torminalis): Zone 6
  • Yu’s Mountain Ash (Sorbus yuana): Zone 3-8

AHS Heat Zone:

  • Whitebeam (Sorbus aria): Zone 8-6
  • Korean Mountain Ash (Sorbus alnifolia): Zone 8-3 or 10-1 depending on the source
  • American Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana): Zone 6-1
  • Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia): Zone 7-1
  • Showy Mountain Ash (Sorbus decora): Zone 6-1
  • Serice Tree or Sorb Tree (Sorbus domestica): Zone 8-6
  • Yu’s Mountain Ash (Sorbus yuana): Zone 8-3 or 10-1 depending on the source

Chill Requirement: Likely considering where this plant originates, but no reliable information is available.

Plant Type: Small to Medium Tree
Leaf Type: Deciduous
Forest Garden Use: Canopy Layer, Sub-Canopy Layer
Cultivars/Varieties: There are a number of species and varieties available

Pollination: Most of the wild types require cross-pollination from another tree; some of the improved varieties (especially with the Service Tree) are Self-fertile, but will likely set more fruit with cross-pollination. Pollinated by insects.
Flowering: Late Spring to Summer (May-June), not frost sensitive

Life Span:

  • Years to Begin Fruiting: 3-5 years, but 15 years for the Rowan (S. aucuparia)
  • Years to Maximum Fruiting: No good information available
  • Years of Useful Life: Many species are considered “short lived” with no specific dates, but the Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) and the Whitebeam (Sorbus aria) are reported to live for well over 100 years of age. The Service Tree (Sorbus domestica) has been reported to live to 400 years. Coppicing greatly extends the life of a tree as well.
Sorbus_KoreanMountainAsh

The Sorbus species are all rather beautiful in Autumn.
Korean Mountain Ash (Sorbus alnifolia)

Sorbus_WildService02

Wild Service Tree (Sorbus torminalis)

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT

Size:

  • Whitebeam (Sorbus aria): 40 feet (12 meters) tall and 25 feet (8 meters) wide
  • Korean Mountain Ash (Sorbus alnifolia): 50 feet (15 meters) tall and 25 feet (8 meters) wide
  • American Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana): 10-30 feet (3-9 meters) tall and wide
  • Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia): 20-40 feet (6-12 meters) tall and 15-35 feet (4.5-11 meters) wide
  • Showy Mountain Ash (Sorbus decora): 20-35 feet (6-11 meters) tall and wide
  • Devon Sorb Apple (Sorbus devoniensis): 20 feet (6 meters) tall and 13 feet (4 meters) wide
  • Serice Tree or Sorb Tree (Sorbus domestica): 30-35 feet (9-11 meters) tall and 20-30 feet (6-9 meters) wide; can get to 60 feet (18 meters) tall
  • Tibetan Whitebeam (Sorbus thibetica): 33-50 feet (10-15 meters) tall and wide
  • Wild Service Tree (Sorbus torminalis): 50-65 feet (15-20 meters) tall
  • Yu’s Mountain Ash (Sorbus yuana): 20-40 feet (6-12 meters) tall

Roots: It appears that most of the European species have deep taproots with shallow lateral roots. Little else can be found about the other species other than the Showy Mountain Ash (S. docora) from North America, and it has fibrous roots.
Growth Rate: Medium

Sorbus_Rowan03

Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), like the other Sorbus species needs full sun to produce the most fruit.

GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT

Light: Prefers full sun
Shade: Tolerates light shade, but fruits less
Moisture: Prefers medium moisture soils (S. decora can tolerate more wet soils).
pH: 5.1-7.0 (prefers mild acidic to neutral soils, but can tolerate a pretty wide range of soils).

Special Considerations for Growing:

  • These are not fussy trees.
  • Susceptible to the bacterial disease, Fire Blight. Would need to prune to treat the infected trees (cut 6 inches (15 mm) below infection).

Propagation:
Seed, requires 3-4 months of cold stratification. Improved varieties are grafted.

Maintenance:
Minimal once established.

Concerns:
Like many species in the Rose family, the leaves and seeds contain a precursor to cyanide which could be life threatening if consumed in large amounts.

 


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Photo References:

  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c8/Sorbus_aucuparia_kpjas_19082005_4.jpg
  • http://drzewaikrzewyozdobne.home.pl/boryslawice/attachments/Image/drzewa_li__ciaste/Sorbus_aucuparia2.jpg
  • http://www.erbe.altervista.org/images/sorbus_aucuparia_B.jpg
  • http://davisla.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/sorbus-aria2.jpg
  • http://www.pflanzen-bilder-kaufen.de/wp-content/uploads/Speierling-Baum-Frucht-rot-gelb_Sorbus-domestica01.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/Sorbus_domestica.JPG
  • http://www.pariscotejardin.fr/wp-content/09092011-P1360512.jpg
  • http://delta-intkey.com/angio/images/ebo04811.jpg
  • http://delta-intkey.com/angio/images/ebo04851.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e3/Sorbus_torminalis_Weinsberg_20070929_5.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/05/Sorbus_alnifolia_’Submollis’_JPG1Ta.jpg
  • http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2801/4471786077_a5362e8bfb_o.jpg

 

Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part One: 1-10)

As I discussed in my recent article, Fighting Fungophobia (or Mycophobia) …the fear of mushrooms, here is a list of 70 Distinctive Mushrooms.

Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part One: 1-10)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Two: 11-20)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Three: 21-30)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Four: 31-40 )
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Five: 41-50)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Six: 51-60)
Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms (Part Seven: 61-70)

This list of mushrooms comes from David Arora, mycologist extraordinaire and author of Mushrooms Demystified and All That the Rain Promises and More. I’ve added photos and a brief paragraph about reported edibility, characteristics, distribution, and habitat. Remember, this is not meant to be an identification guide but rather an introduction to some pretty amazing and representative mushrooms. The mushrooms on this list are all found in the United States (my home), but the majority are also found outside of North America.

A quick note on edibility: I am listing whether the mushroom is considered Edible or Poisonous or Deadly Poisonous. Understand that all mushrooms should be cooked before being eaten. Even edible mushrooms can cause gastrointestinal upset (nausea, vomiting, stomach cramping, and/or diarrhea) if the mushrooms are not cooked. Yes, some people can handle raw mushrooms in small amounts (mainly just the common, grocery store “button mushrooms”), but most will succumb to symptoms if they eat enough raw mushrooms, especially wild mushrooms. Also, note that some edible mushrooms may cause gastrointestinal symptoms for some individuals and none for other individuals. One species may cause some symptoms for one person but not for another. It is variable. If it is your first time consuming a new type of mushrooms, go slow. Eat a little bit one day, and if you do well, then consume a bit more the next day. If you still have no problems, then you can likely eat that type of mushroom with no issues. Finally, note that most anyone has a good chance of getting gastrointestinal symptoms if they eat an excessively large amount of mushrooms of any type. Just like if a person eats a whole pot of bean-laden chili… watch out! Keep it in moderation, but have fun!

Seventy mushroom listings and photographs will take a lot of space, so I am going to break the list up into ten species segments. I recommend reading David Arora’s books as well as some local field guides. Then go outside and get to know the fungus among us… er, you, I mean.

Here are the first ten:

  1. Delicious/Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius deliciosus)
  2. Bleeding Milk Cap (Lactarius rubrilacteus)
  3. Indigo Milk Cap (Lactarius indigo)
  4. Candy Caps (Lactarius fragilis, L. camphoratus)
  5. Short-Stemmed Russula (Russula brevipes)
  6. Emetic Russula (Russula emetica group)
  7. Rosy Russula (Russula rosacea)
  8. Witch’s Hat (Hygrocybe conica)
  9. Ivory Waxy Cap (Hygrophorus eburneus)
  10. Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Here is the list again with photos and accompanying paragraph of additional information:

 

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Delicious/Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius deliciosus)

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Delicious/Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius deliciosus)

1. Delicious/Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius deliciosus): Edible, highly prized in Europe, but much less so in North America where it tends to be grainy and a little bitter (could be varietal or growing condition differences). Cap size: 2-6.3 inches (5-16 cm). The “milk” or latex in this milk cap is an orange color. Bruises green. Common and native to Europe and North America. Found under conifers.

 

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Bleeding Milk Cap (Lactarius rubrilacteus)

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Bleeding Milk Cap (Lactarius rubrilacteus)

2. Bleeding Milk Cap (Lactarius rubrilacteus): Edible, reportedly better tasting than L. deliciosus. Cap size: 1.5-5.5 inches (4-14 cm). “Bleeds” a red latex. Bruises green. Common in western North America. L. sanguifluusis is in Europe and may actually be the same species (research . A similar species, L. subpurpureus, is found in eastern North America and has darker red-purple latex. Found with conifers (common with Douglas Fir in western North America; pine in Europe; hemlock in eastern North America).

 

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Indigo Milk Cap (Lactarius indigo)

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Indigo Milk Cap (Lactarius indigo)

3. Indigo Milk Cap (Lactarius indigo): Edible, some state it is choice, but others are not too fond of it. However, it is one of the most distinctive mushrooms. Cap size: 1.5-6 inches (4-15 cm). Latex is a bright, dark blue. Bruises blue to green. Common in eastern and southern North America and in Central America. Found under conifers and deciduous trees (most commonly pine and oak).

 

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Candy Caps (Lactarius camphoratus)

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Candy Caps (Lactarius fragilis)

4. Candy Caps (Lactarius fragilis, L. camphoratus): Edible (choice). Cap size: 0.8-2.75 inches (2-7 cm). There are a number of “Candy Cap” mushrooms found in Asia, Europe, and North America. There are an overwhelming number of Little Brown Mushrooms (LBM’s) which are closely related and look almost identical, some of which are poisonous, so accurate identification is important. Fortunately, the edible Candy Caps have a brittle stipe/stem (instead of a flexible one) and a characteristic odor, depending on the species. L. fragilis (eastern North America) smells like maple syrup; it tastes like a “mushroom” when cooked fresh, but if allowed to dry, it becomes sweet and is commonly used with syrups and sweets. L. camphoratus (Northern Hemisphere) is also known as the “Curry Milkcap” and has a scent of sweet curry.  Common under oak, but does occur under other hardwoods and conifers.

 

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Short-Stemmed Russula (Russula brevipes)

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The bland Short-Stemmed Russula (Russula brevipes) infected with the fungal parasite, Hypomyces lactifluorum, creating the delicious Lobster Mushroom.

5. Short-Stemmed Russula (Russula brevipes): Edible, but rather poor flavor… unless it is parasitized by the fungus Hypomyces lactifluorum (this fungus can parasitize other Russula and Lactarius species as well). Then it becomes the tasty Lobster Mushroom, which I have used to make a mushroom risotto a number of years ago. Only about half of the mushrooms made it in the dish, because I kept sampling them before the rice was ready! The parasitizing fungus forms a crusty layer on the host mushroom that is bright orange to orange-red. Cap size: 2.75-11.8 inches (7-30 cm). Common in temperate climate forests.

 

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Emetic Russula (Russula emetica)

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Emetic Russula (Russula emetica)

6. Emetic Russula (Russula emetica group): Poisonous, a.k.a. “The Sickener” induces vomiting as the Latin name suggests. There are a number of closely related red-capped Russula species which can all cause vomiting. It is reported that the toxins can be destroyed with prolonged heat, but the flavor is still not great. Probably not worth the trouble and risk. Cap size: 1.2-4 inches (3-10 cm). Found in North Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America.

 

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Rosy Russula (Russula rosacea)

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Rosy Russula (Russula rosacea)

7. Rosy Russula (Russula rosacea): Poisonous (bad tasting as well), causing vomiting, stomach cramping, and diarrhea. R. rosacea (found in North America) may be the same species as R. sanguinaria (found in Europe). Cap size: 1.2-4.7 inches (3-12 cm). Found in northern temperate forests with conifers.

 

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Witch’s Hat (Hygrocybe conica)

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Witch’s Hat (Hygrocybe conica)

8. Witch’s Hat (Hygrocybe conica): Doubtful edibility (reported to be mistakenly blamed for death in years past, but tasteless and watery). Likely composed of many closely related species. Cap size: 0.4-2 inches (1-5 cm), may get to 4.7 inches (12 cm). Pointed and bright when young, flattening and blackening with age. Common around the world in grasslands, forests, disturbed soils, and other damp places.

 

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Ivory Waxy Cap (Hygrophorus eburneus)

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Ivory Waxy Cap (Hygrophorus eburneus)

9. Ivory Waxy Cap (Hygrophorus eburneus): Edible (poor due to its sliminess). This is a classic example of the “Waxy Cap” mushrooms, although “Slimy Cap” is probably a better name! The mucous can be so thick that the mushroom cannot even be picked; if the slime dries out, it can dry out and debris will be glued to the cap. There are other similar species of Waxy Caps. Cap size: 0.8-2.75 inches (2-7 cm), but can get to 3.9 inches (10 cm). These are common and found with conifers and occasionally with hardwoods.

 

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Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)

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Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)

10. Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus): Edible (choice – one of the most popular mushrooms in the world). Cap size: 1.5-6 inches (4-15 cm). Found in temperate and subtropical forests around the world. It grows on, and decomposes, wood (trunks, logs, stumps, etc.) in the wild, but can grow on many other organic substances. It prefers hardwoods, but can occasionally be found on conifers.

 

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 Photo References:

  • http://www.mykoweb.com/photos/large/Lactarius_deliciosus(mgw-06).jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Lactarius_deliciosus(fs-02).jpg
  • http://mushroomhobby.com/Gallery/Lactarius/Lactarius%20rubrilacteus/Lactarius%20rubrilacteus.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Lactarius_rubrilacteus(mgw-01).jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/Lactarius_indigo_54015.jpg
  • http://mushroomhobby.com/Gallery/Lactarius/Lactarius%20indigo/Lactarius%20indigo%202.jpg
  • http://biology.duke.edu/fungi/mycolab/DFMO/duke%20forest%20fungi/douglas2011.JPG
  • http://mushroomhobby.com/Gallery/Lactarius/Lactarius%20camphoratus/Lactarius%20camphoratus%202340.jpg
  • http://mushroomhobby.com/Gallery/Russula/Russula%20brevipes/Russula%20brevipes%201.jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Russula_brevipes(mgw-05).jpg
  • http://www.pilzepilze.de/extern/felix_hampe/2011/Russula%20emetica%20var.%20emetica%2021.08.2011%20(6)%20Kopie.jpg
  • http://fr.academic.ru/pictures/frwiki/82/Russula_emetica1.JPG
  • http://www.indianamushrooms.com/images/russula_rosacea_2.jpg
  • http://morwellnp.pangaean.net/images/full_size/Russula_rosacea_a.jpg
  • http://farm1.staticflickr.com/111/300619694_7cdc09e95f_o.jpg
  • https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/2007-06-16_Hygrocybe_conica.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/18/Hygrophorus_eburneus-pastorino.JPG
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Hygrophorus_eburneus(mgw-03).jpg
  • http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/photos/large/Pleurotus_ostreatus(fs-03).jpg
  • https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2d/Pleurotus_ostreatus_-_Pleurote_en_huître.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/45/Hypomyces_lactifluorum_169126.jpg

 

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    Fighting Fungophobia (or Mycophobia) …the fear of mushrooms

Fighting Fungophobia (or Mycophobia) …the fear of mushrooms

Fungophobia is a term coined by William Delisle Hay, the noted British mycologist (a person who studies fungus, including mushrooms), in 1887. He was one of the first to speak about the social or cultural fear of mushrooms that he saw in England.

He wrote that all mushrooms…

…are lumped together in one sweeping condemnation. They are looked upon as vegetable vermin only made to be destroyed. …the individual who desires to engage in the study of them must bodly face a good deal of scorn. He is laughed at for his strange taste among the better classes, and is actually regarded as a sort of indiot among the lower orders. No fad or hobby is esteemed so contemptble as that of “fungus-hunter”, or “toadstool-eater.”

This popular sentiment, which we may coin the word “fungophobia” to express, is very curious. If it were human – that is, universal – one would be inclined to set it down as an instinct, and to revere it accordingly. But it is not human – it is merely British. It is so deep and intense a prejudice that it amounts to a national superstition.

This fungophobia spread with colonization to the Americas and Australia. If you were raised as I was, in a culture derived from the British expansion around the world, then you may have the same fear of mushrooms. Now this may not be the same type of bladder-releasing fear as a person with acrophobia (fear of heights) when standing at the ledge of the Grand Canyon. It may express itself as a general aversion to seeing mushrooms popping up in your yeard, or it may be a slight terror in seeing a child play with mushrooms because they might take a bite of one and start convulsing and die while you watch. You may feel comfortable eating button mushrooms on your pizza, but those “new” mushrooms in the produce section of the grocery store make you feel a little nervous. If your neighbor told you he went out in the woods and came back with some edible mushrooms, you would wonder how long until the ambulance arrived next door.

Mycologist and brilliant author, David Arora, writes…

Bring home what looks like a wild onion for dinner, and no one gives it a second thought – despite the fact it might be a Death Camas you have, especially if you didn’t bother to smell it. But bring home a wild mushroom for dinner, and watch the faces of your friends crawl with various combinations of fear, anxiety, loathing, and distrust!

…for there are few things that strike as much fear in your average American as the mere mention of wild mushrooms or “toadstools.” Like snakes, slugs, worms, and spiders, they are regarded as unearthly and unworthy, despicable and inexplicable – the vermin of the vegetable world. And yet, consider this: out of several thousand different kinds of wild mushrooms in North America, only five or six are deadly poisonous! And once you know what to look for, it’s about as difficult to tell a deadly Amanita from a savory chanterelle as it is a lima bean from an artichoke.

Let me repeat one phrase in there again: Out of several thousand different kinds of wild mushrooms in North America, only five or six are deadly poisonous! Then why the fear?

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Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum) releasing spores

I remember kicking puffballs and throwing them at my older sister in my backyard when I was three or four years old. I don’t remember who told me this, but I distinctly remember being told not to touch them, for if the “smoke” from the puffballs (the spores, in reality) got into my eyes, I would become blind. In my research for this article, it turns out that puffballs causing blindness is a common threat to deter kids from playing with them; two other local British names for the Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum) are “blindman’s bellows” and “no-eyes”. I wouldn’t have even been able to associate puffballs with a typical mushroom at that age, yet that was my introduction to the world of mycology. It took at least twenty years before I finally began to shake the irrational aversion to mushrooms, and then it took another ten or so before I was growing mushrooms (on purpose!) in my bathroom… much to my wife’s dismay.

I recently added the Mycelial or Fungal Layer to the Layers of the Edible Forest Garden (you can read my article here). I realized that the initial seven layers were created by a Brit! Robert Hart developed the forest garden for a temperate climate, but did not include the essential mycological layer… fungophobia may partially be to blame.

As a physician, it is not uncommon for me to see patients with phobias to one thing or another. The common theme in treating phobias is the same… education. Once a person really starts to understand and comprehend all the aspects of the item they fear, the fear starts to diminish. In the next few weeks, I am going to be sharing some basic information on mushroms from a list compiled by David Arora called Seventy Distinctive Mushrooms. I want to show the beauty of mushrooms. I also want to show their variety and differences. I want to provide just a little bit of education to start breaking down the fear of mushrooms. I want to fight fungophobia!

 

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 Photo References:

  • http://www.huh.harvard.edu/libraries/Amanita_exhibit/images/macadam1.jpg
  • http://www.stevegettle.com/uploads/shroomcloud.jpg