The fungus or fungi (plural) are a group of organisms, neither plant nor animal, with a large number of species variation. From bright coloured aesthetic yet poisonous individuals to weird looking yet edible mushrooms, the fungi are definitely nature’s wonderful creations. In this post I’ll discuss 10 of the Weird yet Edible Fungi specially found in Indian subcontinent. I hope the post will be thoughtful.
10 Weird yet Edible Fungi
Common Morel : Morchella esculanta
The common morel or Guchhi in Hindi, is a prized spongy wild mushroom. They are found throughout the temperate countries like Canada, USA, Europe, Japan, China, New Zealand and the Himalayan states. The fungi are found in deep temperate forests in association with the trees such as Pine, Beech, Fraxinus, and Elm, in limestonic or sometimes acidic soils and burnt areas. They emerge from dense clod of hyphae underground in association with roots of some trees. The hyphae then give rise to spongy fruiting bodies under suitable moisture, temperature and nutrient conditions. Generally morels are consumed after sun drying.
Chanterelle : Cantherellus cornucopioides
The Chanterelle are the most widely consumed fungi after button mushrooms. With a noticeable orange-yellow body and ridges of gills running its whole length, the fungi have a prominent fruity aroma. It can be found in Europe, Asian mountains, Himalayas, North and Central America and parts of Africa. The fungi can grow in a variety of habitats like mossy coniferous forests, grasslands with low growing herbs and are found in association with birch and beech trees. The most suitable time for their emergence are the months from July to December. The Chanterelle fungi are rich in Vit C, D and potassium.
Chicken of the Woods : Laetiporus sulphurous
With a distinct bright yellow color, Laetiporus can be found growing on trees in rows called brackets. The fungi grow over trees like Quercus, Prunus, Salix, Robinia, Fagus, Pyrus and Conifers. They have Lactiporus sulphurous lectin, which is a watery liquid with haemolytic properties. They are edible only in their younger stages and are harvested in August to October months in the higher parts of European Alps and Rocky mountains of North America.
Black Trumpet : Craterellus cornucopioides
As the name indicates, black trumpets are black in color with a distinctive funnel or trumpet shaped body. Normally they attain a height of upto 10 cm. The fungi grow in clusters in calcareous soils in parts of North America, North Europe, Japan, and Korea in moist moss in association with deciduous trees like beech and oak. They grow in the moist months from June to November; after harvesting they are usually dried, which is said to improve its flavour and aroma. The fungi are rich in proteins and Vitamin C.
Golden Needle Mushroom : Flammulina velutipes
The golden needle mushroom is also known as Enokitake in Japanese, where it is served as a local cuisine. The wild mushrooms are orange-brown because of their exposure to sun as compared to the white cultivated ones. Also the cultivated ones are carefully grown in CO2 environment to favour long and thin stalks. They can be found in East Asia in the countries like Japan, China, Vietnam and India in moist areas living in trees like Chinese Hackberry, ash, mulberry, persimmon and are collected in the months from September to March. The fungi are rich in antioxidants and are used in cancer immunotherapy.
Blue Milk Mushroom : Lactarius indigo
Blue Milk Mushrooms can be widely found in the deciduous and coniferous forests, generally in association with Oak trees, in the regions of North America, such as Mexico and Guatemala, and East Asia. These uniquely coloured fungi possess a blue colored latex. They grow from underground hyphae associated with tree root nodules, in appropriate temperatures, humidity and nutrient availabilities. The fungi are funnel shaped when fully mature.
Caesar’s Mushroom : Amanita muscaria
Caesar’s mushrooma are orange-red capped fungi found in Southern Europe, North Africa and mountains of India and China. The fungi are found in association with pine-oak forest, grow in groups or individually upto a height of 15 cm. They mature from an oval shape into a flat shaped cap in early summer to autumn months. They closely resemble and are mistaken with their poisonous counterparts –Fly Agaric, that has red caps with white spots.
Lawyer’s Wig : Coprinus comatus
Lawer’s wig or Shaggy ink cap, this fungi species is common in lawns, grassland, meadows and gravelly wastelands, emerging after rains during the months of June to November. They are to be found in Europe, North -America and Australia. The fungi has to be consumed fresh, immediately after harvest as within no time it starts turning black. Within a day the fungi gets mature and turns black with a black inky exudates oozing out of its gills. Because of their inky secretions they are also used as dyes.
Honey Fungus : Armillaria mellea
Armillaria or the Honey fungus is generally known as a plant parasite or pathogen as it feeds on the base of tree trunk of its host causing Armillaria Root Rot. However, the fungi are edible, fresh or dried, having a sweet and nutty taste. The mycelium of the fungi is bioluminescent in active growth. The cap of the fungi is convex shaped which gradually flattens with maturity. They can be found in the temperate areas of North America, Europe and North Asia.
Green-cracking Russula : Russula virescens
As the name suggests, the Green cracking Russula has a peculiar olive green patches on its cap. The fungi grow in Asia, North Africa, Europe, and Central America; it is consumed for its nutty, fruity and sweet flavour. It grows as a mycorrhizal association with oak, European beech, aspen in deciduous or mixed forests and germinate in the rainy months. The fungi are rich in minerals and are said to be immune-stimulatory and rich in antioxidants.
So, this was my list of 10 Weird yet Edible Fungi. I hope this post proved thoughtful and informative. If you liked it, then give it a Thumbs Up! Do share this knowledge with others.