Please remember that Forage Friday is presented as trivia and not to be mistaken for medical advice.
⚠️ I have not positively identified this particular mushroom.⚠️
The old saying is when in doubt, leave it out. I’ve said before that mushrooms are a bit of a weak spot in my knowledge base. The ones that I have experience with I know well. I’ve been able to pick them and smell them and confirm that there’s no dangerous lookalikes or that they exhibit some feature that separates the specimen from all other possibilities. However, I’ve not yet gone after oyster mushrooms. Which is a little odd because they’re one of the top choice forage mushrooms out there. However, most of my knowledge of mushrooms is theoretical. I know that in addition to being edible and flavorful that oyster mushrooms can eventually remove petroleum from the environment. But I just haven’t taken the time to positively identify some and get to know them. Foraging anything new should be approached like a first date. It’s always best to get to know that person before you make any long term commitments. And in the case of mushrooms there’s a good possibility that you’ll spend the rest of your life with it. The danger is that the wrong choice could make the rest of your life a measure of minutes.
In September of 2004 an incident involving the lookalike of oyster mushrooms, the Angelwing mushroom was responsible for a string of deaths in Japan. The 59 victims that died had a history of liver problems and in those cases the rest of their lives worked out to between 13 and 29 days after they first noticed that they were sick. Which leads me to observe that anyone can have an underlying issue that makes a wild edible toxic to them but not others. Up until then the Angelwing mushroom was considered safe to eat and so older references don’t have a warning or if they do it’s not a strong one.
But there’s something going on here that makes me think that this is a oyster mushroom and not an Angelwing. That’s what it’s growing on. You see, the hazardous Angelwing mushroom grows on conifer trees and especially hemlock. The huge mushroom in our photo is definitely growing on a maple tree as seen in the next photo.
The small twig emerging from the right of the photo and behind the tree is covered in maple leaves. It’s growing out of the same tree as the mushroom and oyster mushrooms favor hardwoods.
As we can see in the above photo this mushroom has gills and a pretty stout looking stem as well as a pinkish tone. The gills stop at the base of the stem which means it could be an Elm Oyster Mushroom and they are known to grow on maple trees. Elm Oyster isn’t a true Oyster Mushroom but it’s not toxic either. The fungus was growing in a state park and in a spot that was only accessible to me through my lens so I left it alone and didn’t collect any samples for closer study but if you think that you have a positive ID please drop a comment and give me your opinion.
Good night friends and be blessed throughout your days.
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