May 24, 2021
Good evening team.
I have a bit of housekeeping to address before we delve into the mushrooms. This past weekend I went on a Friends of Fungi retreat hosted by Catskill Fungi in Phoenicia, NY. It was one of the best and most important weekends of my life. It was falling in love with fungi all over again. I left the Catskills full of love, gratitude, and inspiration (FWIW this was an educational/ecological retreat…the psychedelic-oriented retreat is in Telluride in August😉). As I come down from a weekend full of emotion I just want to thank you all for showing an interest in fungi and joining in on the journey. On a humorous note, our work computer server got hacked or something and no one can access their email/onedrive – someone probably tried to cash in on that $500 walmart giftcard popup – so I’m emailing from my personal account. If you get this email you’re special in that I remember your email off the top of my head or I stored it in my notes.
This week’s mushroom is an entire genus: Pluteus. The specimens attached were found on 5/4/2021 in the North Woods. Commonly known as Deer mushrooms or Shields, Pluteus are saprobes (wood decomposers) that have pinkish/brown spores. One fun thing to do when you find a mushroom is to take a “spore print”. This entails leaving the cap of the mushroom on paper/aluminum foil for ~24 hours. The mushroom will drop spores on the substrate, the color of the spores are a helpful identification tool, and the print itself is beautiful. I’ve attached a photo of this specimen’s spore print.
The other helpful identification tool for Pluteus (which means penthouse or shed in latin – kind of opposites, no?) is that their gills are not attached to the stipe (stem) of the mushroom. You can see this in the second and last photos. The gills attach to the cap just short of where the stipe is and you can also see how the spores tint the gills that iconic pinkish brown over time. It is difficult to determine the separate species in this genus without using microscopes and DNA barcoding, and that’s why I’ve decided to highlight the genus as a whole. The last fun fact I have is that the mushroom Pluteus americanus grows fairly commonly in the Eastern US summer through fall, has a stipe that bruises blue, and contains the psychoactive chemical psilocybin. Happy hunting.
Let’s all dance for rain this week,
1) http://www.mushroomexpert.com/pluteus.html2) https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/60783