Paul’s Mycelium Handbook
12 MUSHROOMS TO KNOW NOW
Where to find: Grows in association with conifer and hardwood trees
AKA: “Fly Agaric”
Notes: One of the most encountered in popular culture, this toadstool mushroom is poisonous, but rarely deadly. In some northern cultures it was used as a drug in religious and spiritual contexts.
Where to find: Native to China, Europe, and the USA
Notes: In Asian supermarkets you will find this mushroom under its Japanese name “maitake” which translates to “dancing mushroom”. It is one of the most popular asian culinary mushrooms. It grows in clusters and can grow up to 150cm large.
Where to find: “Cosmopolitan species, colonises hardwoods
Notes: Reishi is also known as the mushroom of immortal- ity and is widely used in Chinese medicine. Its use has been recorded for more than 2,000 years. It is typically extracted in hot water for teas, syrups and soups or made into a powder
Where to find: “Cosmopolitan” grows easily everywhere
AKA: “Turkey Tail”
Notes: Besides Turkey Tail’s medicinal properties, enzymes secreted by its mycelium are powerful toxin destroyers. Turkey Tail offers tools for healing both people and the planet, and lucky for us that it is one of the most common in the world.
What is Mycology?
Mycology is the systematic study of fungi. Fungi are not plants nor animals – they are in their own seperate kingdom. The use of fungi by humans dates back to prehistoric times. Oetzi the Iceman, for instance, a mummy of a 5,300 year old man found in the Austrian Alps, carried two species of polypore mushrooms with him. The study of fungi however is relatively new, beginning in 1737.
Where to find: “Cosmopolitan”, grows easily everywhere
AKA: “Blue Oyster Mushroom”
Notes: Out of all cultivated mushrooms, this one is the easiest to grow. Its mycelium can digest 5 pounds of wood in just a few months. The byproducts of this decomposition benefit other organisms; it can also recycle and fight pollution.
Where to find: Distributed throughout temperate regions
Notes: Morels are some of the first organisms to appear after a fire, primarly in the first year after burning. Best picked as ridges darken, these mushrooms need to be thoroughly cooked to be eaten. They are delicious with cream and butter.
Where to find: Grows easily everywhere, also in urban areas
AKA: “Wavy Cap”
Notes: This “magic mushroom’s” main active compounds are psilocybin and psilocin. This mushroom can sometimes grow in colossal amounts; more than 100,000 mushrooms were found growing at a race- track in England in a single patch.
Where to find: Most abundent in southern regions of the USA
AKA: “Lion’s Mane”
Notes: This mushroom imparts the flavour of shrimp or lobster when cooked. “I like frying this mushroom, adding tamari or soy sauce, letting it simmer with onions for a bit and adding butter at the end which brings out the seafood flavour.”
“Mycelium is a fine cobweb-like network that grows in the ground, inside of trees, and inside all plants. It is virtually everywhere, a living membrane under every footstep that you take on the ground, all over the world. If you don’t know what mycelium is, or have never seen it, all you have to do is go outside, into nature, find a piece of wood that has been on the ground for a few months. If you tip it over you will see a vast cobweb like network growing under- neath the log. There you go, that’s it! The mycelium’s job is to recycle all organic material to create new soil. It is, simply put, the interface organism between life and death. Once an organism dies, it isdisintegrated by the mycelium and taken back into the soil, thus reforms new soil ecosys- tems which in their turn rebirth life.”
WHERE TO FIND: Primarly found in the US
Notes: This mushroom is commonly found along streams or rivers, when the autumn rain begins, it melts into a loose mass and is reabsorbed. It was also found to have strong effects against the growth of staphylo- coccus bacteria.
Where to find: “Cosmopolitan” grows easily everywhere
AKA: “Lobster Mushroom”
Notes: The Lobster mushroom, is not a mushroom, but rather a parasitic ascomycete fungus that will grow on a “mushroom host” turning it a reddish orange color. Depending on the mushroom host, it is edible.
Where to find: Common in the Pacific Northwest
AKA: “Conifer Coral”
Notes: This bright white mushroom often forms on the underside of downed conifers. It produces a brown rot on the trees it decomposes. They are best to harvest when still completely white and are delicious seasoned with rosemary.
Where to find: In temperate forests of US, Europe and Japan
AKA: “Elm Oyster Mushroom”
Notes: A relatively rare mushroom that grows singularly or in small groups on elms and beeches. Resembles the oyster mushroom but is far better in flavor and texture and increasingly popular on the Japanese market.
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