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On November 18th, the Ole Miss mycology class learned about various types of edible wild and cultivated mushrooms. Cultivated mushrooms that one may find at the grocery store typically belong to the AGARICUS BISPORUS species, commonly known as white buttons. baby bellas, and the portobello. Hence, today's food demonstration involves a basic recipe that one can repeat with various mushroom varieties. Dr. H. sauteed portobello mushrooms with good quality olive oil, salt, black pepper, and crumbled blue cheese. Top a cracker with this sizzling, cheesy mushroom mixture and we have a delicious bite of mushroom goodness!
BUT wait, that's not all! There is much more out there than what hides among the shelves at the grocery stores. In class, we discussed various wild mushrooms that would serve as a neat treat. Some common ones are chanterelles, king boletes, and fresh puffballs. If you're lucky, you'll run across a delectable Perigord black truffle. While you may find these in stores at a remarkably high price, it may be worth your while to take a leisure walk over to the Whirlpool Trails to find dinner instead.
There are also many uses of fungus that make other food around you. Some prime examples would be Saccharomyces (yeast), Penicillium (soft cheeses), and Aspergillus (soy sauce). Most of these are commonly found on the shelves and you didn't even know it!
All in all, be sure that the mushroom you are eating is edible! Try to consult a knowledgeable mycologist. "If you're UNSURE, throw it away for SURE."
-Post by Barbara Van and Michelle Ha.
On October 15th, the Ole Miss Mycology class took a field trip to a fellow student's house. There was plenty to collect. A large number of LACCARIA were found throughout the yard. These mushrooms can be easily seen because of their bright purple caps. SUILLUS was abundant. These mushroom caps are often viscous on top and have a jelly like annulus left over from the immature mushroom's partial veil. The most exciting find was the very young AMANITA MUSCARIA. We found this beautiful mushroom emerging from its amanita egg. Our hostess and fellow student, Pat, followed its development and updated us on the process.
Younger A. muscaria -http://i62.tinypic.com/x6h44n.jpg
Older A. muscaria - http://tinypic.com/r/2colx8o/8
On September 30th, the Ole Miss Mycology class hiked through whirlpool trails in search of possible mycorrhizal mushrooms to cultivate. Everyone was able to spot and collect fleshy amanitas that scattered under the pines. One particular AMANITA we collected has a distinct minty-cheesy smell, and it was covered with white bits like a powdered donut. Also obvious was the large size of the mushroom having a stem of 18 cm long! Still a mystery, we are in the process of keying its identity.
Another good find was the HYDNUM species known for teeth underside its cap and its edibility! A LACTARIUS INDIGO stood out in the leaves with its unique blue color, and it is also edible if you're into the spice! Lastly, a SUILLUS species characterized by granules on its stem and viscid cap was an exciting find!
PICTURED: LACTARIUS INDIGO
To end our field trip on a satisfying note, Jason found delectable persimmons for the ride back!
PICTURED: Jason shaking off persimmons!
On different note, plenty of edible mushrooms were found last week including the CANDY CAP, BLACK TRUMPET, and CHANTERELLES. There are simple methods to make a meal out of these mushrooms. I sauteed the mushrooms in butter, olive oil, pinch of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and creole spice. The most dutily part is washing the mushrooms. The trick is to soak them for five minutes and rinse until the water runs clear. Not washing the mushrooms properly will leave gritty texture of dirt and sand after its sauteed (an experience I unlucky had in the past). The CANDY CAP had a distinct nutty taste. The BLACK TRUMPETS and CHANTERELLES were both equally savory.
PICTURED: Upper left: CANDY CAPS, Upper right: BLACK TRUMPETS, Lower left: CHANTERELLES
On September 23rd, the Ole Miss Mycology class ventured out to Bailey's Woods! Today, we were focused on finding evidence of white rot and brown rot fungi. We were definitely not disappointed! In the picture below, you will see evidence of a brown rot fungi. If you look closely, the log looks blocky and is dark brown. This means that most of the cellulose has been decomposed and the lignin has been left behind.
In contrast, we also found some evidence of white rot fungi! In this image, the log looks brittle and white due to the lack of lignin.
We also found other great examples of fungi today such as the Candy caps (Lactarius camphoratus) and a plethora of Black Trumpets (Craterellus cornucopioides).
The Candy caps were small and they had a faint smell of maple syrup. When they are dried, the smells becomes much more apparent. The Black Trumpets grew in small clumps however, due to blending in with the forest floor they could be hard to spot.
If you want to get a glimpse into what our class does on our daily field trips, you can click on the link below!
On Sept 16th, the Ole Miss mycology class explored the grounds of Rowan Oak and the fungi of Faulkner's homestead did not disappoint. Our first stop was a huge patch of nidulariales, or BIRD'S NEST FUNGI, that our prof, Jason Hoeksema, had discovered on a prior visit. These saprobic Basidiomycetes produce spores in small 'egg'-like cases called peridioles, that are eventually washed out of the 'nest' by rain. Next, we investigated a large branch with BROWN JELLY FUNGI and some FAIRY CLUBS (Clavaria vermicularis) growing beneath a magnolia tree before we dispersed into the woods to see what we could discover on our own. Barbara found a neat Pulveroboletus with it's powdery veil still intact and Michelle collected a couple young specimens of Amanita rubescens. Pat found the first Cortinarius we've seen this semester and my interesting find was a cluster of Craterellus cornucopioides. Meanwhile, Jason was having fun with a blue-staining Boletus!
We also encountered a large skink and a minute box turtle, along with the rare find of a PURSEWEB SPIDER (Sphodros rufipes). These arachnids reside inside a unique tunnel-shaped web that the weave along the base of a tree or standing upright attached to vegetation. As insects such as ants crawl up the outside of the web, the spider reaches through the web to capture it's prey.
But the greatest fungal find of the foray was a patch of stinkhhorn eggs that we stumbled upon. The picture below shows one cut in half. Come to find out, they stink even before they hatch!
Today was a great day to hunt for fungal fruiting bodies among decomposing matter in the Whirlpool Trails of Oxford, MS. As students of the Mycology 504 course at Ole Miss, we went out today in the rain (which soon cleared) to search for mushrooms. We turned onto Golden Bush Trail to immediately find Russula and a CHANTERELLE species. The golden trumpet mushroom pictured here is one of the CHANTERELLES we found. Moving on past the initial jackpot of mushrooms, we observed and collected saprophytic fungi on fallen trees also seen in the images. The best find of the day went to Mariah Hornby, a biology Master's student. She identified a parasitic fungus, Elaphocordyceps sp., by the above ground structure protruding through a mat of moss. The parasite had colonized a TRUFFLE, another fungus belonging to the class Ascomycetes. Finding a TRUFFLE is rare enough due to the fruiting body developing underground but to find one being parasitized is a extremely difficult. In the images posted, you can see a red and yellow aboveground structure that belongs to the parasitic fungus belonging to the genus and within the dirt ball is the TRUFFLE. Back in class, Jason Hoeksema opened the truffle and found hyphae from the parasite. It was a good day for our class!
Oxford-area mushroom-enthusiasts: Get out there! In a casual walk in an Oxford woodland today, without much of an effort, I bumped into CHANTERELLES, BLACK TRUMPETS, and CANDYCAPS (along with a bunch of other interesting things, especially some neat boletes). Now's the time to get out and find some cool mushrooms. Check your local oak woodland for these gems.
Well, I didn't get out much to look for morels this spring. We checked one spot that was reliable the last 2 years, on a date that was good last year, and found nothing. On the other hand, I learned about a new spot. Thanks to a tip from a non-morel-eating friend, I found ~25 giant yellow morels on April 14 in an old privet hedge in Oxford. They looked like they had been full grown for at least several days, so picking a week earlier would have been optimal. A morel-hunting friend reported to me that around April 1st, he found nine beneath a Tulip Poplar in a small area that usually produces 2 or 3, but in places that usually produce greater numbers he did not find anything. The mystery of the morel never ends...
How exciting! I work for MDEQ (Mississippi Dept. of Environmental Quality) and this time of the year we are doing stream sampling. Me and a coworker were leaving Tallabinnela Creek in Monroe County and south east of the small town of Nettleton, MS when I saw something I had never seen before in Mississippi, CRANES.
My coworker was driving and I was in the passenger seat. We were going pretty slow on a gravel road and, as usual, I was looking out of the window enjoying the scenery when I noticed the tall, erect, grey bodies with the distinguishable white caps standing tall in a field of dead grass. There was a large flock of them and as we drove two of them that were closer to the road took flight to join the rest of the flock which was positioned only slightly further from the road.
Once I got home I had to identify what I had seen. I knew they weren't HERONS not only because I am very familiar with the sightings of this bird in Mississippi. These birds were in the middle of a field and stood with their necks straight as an arrow unlike the slightly rounded posture of the HERON. Also, the ones that flew held their neck straight. This means that they must be some sort of SANDHILL CRANE which, although while not as rare as the WHOOPING CRANE, is nonetheless a rare treat for the north Mississippi birder.
Here is a little more on the spot of the sighting for anyone interested in visiting the field tomorrow to try to find out what subspecies this is. If you head east on state Hwy 6/278 to Tupelo then take US highway 45/278 south continue on south 45 take a left on Stovall Clark Rd. The field is immediately on your left and is bordered by US 45 on the west side and Stovall Clark Rd. on the south side. I have attached a screen shot from Google Maps of the field.
Good luck. -Lee Smitherman
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