August 23, 2021
Good afternoon friends,
I’ve wrapped up my mushroom pilgrimage and am back in NYC. This week’s mushroom is Chlorophyllum molybdites, commonly known as the green-spored parasol or by the more intimidating moniker of “Vomiter”. This mushroom was found on 7/10/2021 at the West 86th St entrance to the park. Coincidentally, this was the first mushroom that I saw when I got to Denver – in La Raza Park – so I wanted to give this species its due.
C. molybdites is saprobic (obtaining nutrients from dead organic material) which is a surprise to me because it is often found growing in open areas and I would’ve guessed it to be mycorrhizal (obtaining nutrients from relationships with plant/tree roots). It is one of the largest gilled mushrooms and you can get an idea of the size from the first picture where I included my pruners for scale. It appears as if they’re endemic – or native – to North America (specifically east of the Rockies) but can now be found across all six major continents – a cosmopolitan species. They’re frequently found in lawns, parks, golf courses, and other open areas. One major identification key is that the gills on the mature mushrooms are green – as seen in the first two attached pictures. The gills of C. molybdites are technically white but appear green in mature mushrooms because they are stained by the green spores produced by the mushroom. Green spores in mushrooms are rather uncommon and no similar mushroom possesses green spores. A couple notes I made while handling the mushroom is that the cap feels quite tender/meaty (I could see why people want to eat it) while the stipe is much firmer and almost wood-like.
As indicated by its more unsettling common name, C. molybdites is a poisonous mushroom. C. molybdites is one of, if not the, most frequent causes of reported mushroom poisonings throughout the continent. This is in part due to its ubiquity, especially since it is readily found in urban/suburban areas, and also due to its similarity to other edible species like Chlorophyllum rachodes and Macrolepiota procera.
Poisoning from C. molybdites usually occurs 1-3 hours after ingestion and involves gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea; but can also manifest itself in headaches, chills, and low blood pressure. There are cases where people vomit 20-30 times within the span of a few hours – something I can’t even fathom.1 The poisoning can last for a few hours but in extreme cases can endure for up to a week. The severity and duration of the poisoning depends on the size of the person who consumed the mushroom and the quantity consumed, but during my research I did not find any instance where a poisoning from C. molybdites resulted in death. A North American Mycological Association (NAMA) summary of mushroom poisonings in 2015 and 2016 (Reference 5) includes a rather snarky/humorous paragraph on C. molybdites poisonings if you want to delve further into the toxicology. Again, whenever you’re thinking about eating a mushroom you foraged you want to be certain of its identification, and you should consult multiple people/sources to obtain that identification.
Lastly, I’d like to add that the New York Mycological Society is having an open mushroom walk this Sunday 8/29, at 2 pm in Prospect Park (the flyer is attached). NYMS is the main institution that has helped me learn everything I know about fungi, and they routinely host online lectures and in-person walks across the five borough/tri-state area. If you’re curious about mushrooms or just like going for long (slow) walks in the park I encourage you to check it out. Plus, with all the rain the past couple of days there should be mushrooms all over the place. I’ll be there and I hope to see you as well!
Immerse yourself in this last full week of August,