Toothed fungi, part 1

From an email by Jocie to the Botany Group on November 22.

Alison M. has put together an informative overview of some of the toothed fungi: hydnums and hydnellums.

[Click a photo to enlarge it.]

Alison’s notes

Well into November there are still gilled mushrooms popping up in the valley – species of the Inocybe genus and Stropharia tend to be among the later fungi in the sequence. I still have chanterelles appearing. This however is the time when some of the toothed fungi come into their own, fungi that have little spines (rather than gills) as the spore-bearing part of the mushroom.

So first the Hydnum genus – commonly known as the hedgehog. Hydnum is the Latinized from of Greek hudnon,   a word Theophrastus appears to use for “truffle”, so I am not entirely sure why it was chosen for the genus name. In the valley the smaller Hydnum umbilicatum  is common (photo #1 from Tsolum River Road) and also in the lower elevation areas over at Buttle Lake. Its name comes from  its depressed cap like a belly-button. Hydnum repandum (#s  2,3) has a paler, less regular cap, and is larger, growing up to 25 cm in diameter ( 3 times the size of  H. umbilicatum). It tends to grow at higher elevations. Photo #3 illustrates the spines. The dense flesh will tolerate several degrees of frost, and it is an  excellent edible (the little spines tend to come off in the cooking, and can be rubbed off in advance if you are concerned about aesthetics).

Next the Hydnellum genus – the formation of the name suggests a diminutive form of Hydnum (but as with the name hydnum itself the formation doesn’t entirely make sense to me). Jocie has already illustrated the best known Hydnellum peckii in its attractive early stage (#4), which  is often called strawberries and cream, cranberry scone or …, but although it looks inviting, it is extremely acrid. As it grows the coloured droplets disappear, the cap becoming wrinkled and folded, sometimes covered in a whitish hypomyces, sometimes with darker droplets merging to give the impression of a jam tart, and the spines on the underside develop (#s 5- 7). Eventually the cap becomes a dark brown, and it becomes like other members of the genus as they age. Other species include Hydnellum aurantiacum (orange- #s 8-9) , which also shows droplets, this time golden orange in its early stages, and H. careruleum (blue- #10), though in the latter case the blue/grey cap does not have obvious droplets. There are three further members of the genus noted in the SVIMS list which I have not yet found.

Finally, Pseudohydnum gelatinosum  = “jelly-like false hydnum”,  better known as cat’s tongue, or spirit gummy bear (#11). In the jelly fungi category, its teeth or spines make the naming obvious. You will find it commonly on dead logs or branches on the ground from late fall into winter in most of our forested areas in the valley.

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