Saturday, November 22, 2008

Collecting Toadstools


A week ago I took part in a field trip in the Lance Rosier Unit of the Big Thicket Preserve conducted by the Big Thicket Association (BTA) of which I’m a member. This field trip is part of an ongoing project known as the “All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory” or ATBI. “The end goal of the project is to identify all the living organism within the park, map their distribution throughout the park, and get a general idea of how each species interacts with other species.” This is done by using a taxonomic working group or TWiG “that takes a certain set of organisms and attempts to build on previous survey work to accomplish the objectives mentioned above.” These types of projects have already yielded results. In November of 2006 while on a mushroom walk Dave P. Lewis and R.H. Petersen (both involved in the biodiversity inventory) discovered a new species of mushroom (Megacollybis texensis), that is, one that was previously unknown to science.



Many species of mushrooms were collected, but the one that got the most attention was the Hericium erinaceus. It has several common names- Lion’s Mane, Monkey Head, Pom-Pom, Bear’s Head Tooth, Old Man’s Beard, and Bearded Tooth. This football-sized edible "toothed" mushroom is found in late summer and fall growing on dead or living hardwoods, especially beech and oak.



By the looks of it most wouldn’t even consider this to be a mushroom, much less eat it yet people were lined up to taste pieces of this odd looking fungus. Some said that it had a buttery taste to it. I myself not being a fungus eater obligingly declined.


NOTE: BEFORE CONSUMING ANY HARVESTED MUSHROOMS BE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING. MISIDENTIFIED MUSHROOMS CAN LEAD TO SEVERE POISONING AND EVEN DEATH.

Sources:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hericium_erinaceus

http://www.mushroomexpert.com/hericium_erinaceus.html

http://www.btatx.org/

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