As I submerge myself in the vast world of fungi, I need to have some way to make these Latin names stick to my very crowded brain. As they say, the best way to learn is to make a tutorial. Don’t bother asking where I have heard that phrase as I might have just came up with it. Anyway, tutorial is defined as (google, searching, google, searching…ah here it is) – tutorial is defined as a method of transferring knowledge and may be used as a part of a learning process. See, a part of a learning p-r-o-c-e-s-s for you and for me!
So where to begin? We already defined what mushroom is, specified the general parts and showed a lot of pictures from my previous posts. We do have lots of photos and most of them are unknown to me and so, let us start from the known ones and ones that are easily recognizable.
Sarcodon imbricatus! This is not one of the Harry Potter spells! I am particularly happy to have found this today as I had a very strong feeling that this is edible. Sarcodon imbricatus (forgive me as I will be mentioning those two latin words repeatedly and we all know why) or commonly known as hawk’s wings – is considered to be a beginner’s mushroom in that it is easily identified and has no poisonous look alikes. No wonder I found it and identified it in the field! (smiley) I have a mushroom identifying app in my mobile phone which I just downloaded before I left the house. (Luckily I prepared!)
Seeing it for the first time and from a distance, it looked like the cap was burnt which what made me approach it as it has been raining for two days now and to see a burnt cap is not likely. Up-close view revealed a very textured, scale-like and undoubtedly different from other mushroom caps. It was almost touching the ground with stem of about 4-5 cm and now looking at it at home with the stem cut for the spore printing, the cap looks like a burnt burger bun. Hmmm….I think it is the hunger that brought the vision! (eat the mushroom!) Why not? Sarcodon imbricatus is one of the edible mushrooms. Some say it has a bitter taste but I have read about people who ate this and didn’t think they tasted bitterness in it. Some say, it tastes like chantarelle but milder. Researching further, I found an article explaining that there are bitter Sarcodons like Sarcodon scabrosus which looks like our imbricatus only that its stem is olive-black to dark bluish green at the base of it and not white. The caps also differs in that the scabrosus has chestnut brown and has less scales.
To know whether it tastes bitter or not, I made a taste test. This mushroom should be boiled before properly cooking it. It has no gills, instead, it has teeth or some call it spines which traps a lot of stuff from the ground. Mine revealed a bit of sandy-like stuff after boiling which I think is not bad at all. I was not sure how to cook this one so I went to my preferred way of preparing mushroom which is sauteing. I had some bacon and garlic that flavored the imbricatus and I believe it tasted good. Tasted no bitterness, milder than chantarelle it is and very fleshy. To conclude, I have liked the taste test and will definitely hunt for this mushroom in the field. Bear in mind that only the young fruits that should be eaten.
If you want to know more about our Sarcodon imbricatus, here are its characteristics.
CAP: The cap is 5-25 cm convex to broadly convex, depressed to infundibulate at the center. The depression is sometimes perforated in age, margin at first inrolled, becoming decurved, sometimes wavy or lobed; surface dry, consisting of coarse, dark-brown to almost black, erect scales, pale to dark brown underneath the scales which partially diminish in age, Whitish to pale brownish, soft flesh.
STEM: The stem is 4-10 cm long; 1.5-3.5 cm thick; dry; fairly smooth, except where punctuated by aborted spines; pale or brownish; becoming hollow; base with white mycelium.
TASTE: Mild, can be bitter.
HABITAT: Mycorrhizal with conifers and, reportedly, hardwoods; growing alone or in group during fall.