If I had found just one of these fungi on it’s own I would probably have passed it by. It would have seemed unexceptional and pretty indistinct to me.
What made it beautiful was the scale. These were big mushrooms.
So now we need to find out what it is. The pictures above are nice and they contain some important information but not enough for an ID.
The cap colour is indicative, the name “Clouded” comes from the grey/white colour of the cap which is always darker in the centre and the crinkled edges of the older fruits are also true to this species but many fungi have these characteristics. The other information that I am getting from these pictures is the way that they are growing together in quantity, that is also indicative of this species.
We want to find out what it is, so I am going to gather as much information as I can.
I need to look at the stem and the underside of the mushroom. Is there a ring on the stem? does it sit in a cup? Is it hairy or scaly? I need to know if this mushroom has gills, many of them don’t, they often have a flat porous underside and it is absolutely vital to record this. When I cut it I am looking at how the gills join to the stem and the colour of them.
The way that I approach this is to try and photograph everything that I can possibly think of.
Even with these pictures there is still a very good chance that I won’t be able to identify the species. There are other things that you can look at. Does the fungi have a noticeable odour.
Sometimes scent is quite faint and the best way to smell a mushroom is to put some in a bag.
Let the scent concentrate in the bag for a few minutes, then open it up and breathe it in deeply. (Scratch you screen now)
Wow! OW! That wasn’t really necessary. This mushroom has a very strong odour. I have heard this smell described as unpleasant but I didn’t think so. It had a strong mushroomy/earthy smell and my first thought was that I would like to eat it 🙂
Something else that you should look at is if it discolours when cut or bruised.
Here is an old video of a friend and I demonstrating a fungi called Blushing Bracket. “Blushing” because it bruises very easily.
Some fungi does, ours didn’t.
But it is just as important to know that it doesn’t discolour as it is to know that it does.
The other thing that you should take note of is where you found it. If it was growing on wood do you know what kind of wood? What trees are around and what other plants. Soil type might be important and if you know what plants are growing there that can say a lot about the soil. If you don’t know then photograph them.
The next thing that you can do is to take a spore print but up until now everything that I have done has been on location and has only taken me a few minutes. I didn’t need a spore print for this one so we will do that in another post.
This may all seem like a lot of trouble to go to but this is what I like. I go out looking for things that I don’t recognise and I identify them and learn about them. I was pretty determined to identify this mushroom.
If you do want to identify a fungus then please at least give us the cap, stem and gills if it has these things. It makes it so much easier.
So what did I get from all of this discovery?
The most interesting thing that I found out concerned it’s edibility. The common advice is to avoid it. It is not poisonous but it can have an adverse effect. It causes gastric upset in a lot of people and some people it doesn’t effect at all. Tummy upset? Not very serious 🙂
I quickly found two blogs where people described eating it, one of them said…
“My God, what a lovely flavour.”
and the other one said…
“Really really tasty strong flavour”
The trick is to try a little and then wait for twenty four hours. Find out if you are one of the lucky ones. There is a lot of it and it will regrow in the same spot. I think that if it is that good it is worth taking the test 🙂
Note: there are a few white gilled, pale capped fungi that are more poisonous than this one. Make sure that you know what you are playing with.
13 thoughts on “The Clouded Agaric”
What a brilliant explanation of the process. Thank you Colin.
Thank you John 🙂
Thank-you, Colin. Really interesting post and I will note the method of IDing fungi for the future.
Thanks Clare 🙂 Just before my power went off yesterday I was searching around trying to ID your Cat’s Ear. It is very red for Cat’s ear, It is not Beaked Hawksbeard, that has a double row of pointy bracts just behind the flower. I was looking at Hawksbits when the power went down. I am none the wiser, sorry 🙂
Oh thank-you Colin! The red petals really confused me, and yet again I failed to photograph the stems, leaves etc. I had mulled over Beaked Hawksbeard for a while but I decided it really couldn’t be that. I then looked at Hawksbits but couldn’t find anything that looked more like this plant than Cat’s-ear did. Thank-you so much for taking the trouble for me. Clare.
More fabulous pictures and information:)
Thank you Gigi 🙂
Very useful indeed. The idea of sniffing a shroom in a plastic bag sounds vaguely indecent. Can you do lichens, Colin?
Thanks Andrew 🙂 In a word no. Well I can do a few of the very easy ones and I am planning a post about them. I want to write about the wonderful Beatrix Potter among other things. My problem with lichens is that many of them require chemical tests to identify them and enthusiasts go out with little bottles of Iodine, bleach, acid etc. Normal people don’t do that and I like to focus on things that you can identify by looking at them. I am the same with Fungi, I look for the ones that are distinctive and easy to ID and try to avoid the ones that you need a microscope for 🙂 Lichens are wonderful though and I do need to write about them soon.
I shall look forward to that Colin.
You are a great teacher – thanks!
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Thank you very much Eliza 🙂 and you can have a star for that kind comment.
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Another interesting post. I went on a fungus foray last weekend and listened to a very interesting presentation before going out. One of the best presentations I have ever listened to. The presenter was Pat O’Reilly who wrote the book “Fascinated by fungi”. I need to buy this now.