Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of usually a substrate or wood dwelling fungus. These structures primarily serve as spore dispersal systems, usually for members of the group Basidiomycota. (However, there are notable exceptions to this rule in regard to some mushrooms such as the prized morels and true truffles.) Although mushrooms vary widely in shape, size and color, even among members of the same species, many generic mushrooms are characterized by the presence of a stem, cap and some sort of surface which spores are released from. These can range from the common gills, to pores (As in the prized boletes), to spines (as in the genus Hydnum, or the hedgehog mushroom), to folds (as in the chantrelles) to smooth surfaces which are indistinguishable from the rest of the fruiting body. There are some notable exceptions, such as the jelly fungi and coral fungi, the former lacking a stalk, and the latter lacking any sort of cap. Even within the archetypal mushroom type there is great diversity.
People are often terrified of fatal mushroom poisoning, but in reality, only a tiny handful of mushrooms can kill a person. That being said, take classes, learn from a wild mushroom guru, and be absolutely sure of your identification before eating a wild mushroom (or for that matter, any mushroom, other than the boring Agricus bisporus from the supermarket). Unfortunately, tragic instance of mushroom poisoning occur regularly in Northern California, such as this occurrence in 2012: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/12/02/5024170/death-cap-mushrroom-looks-good.html and these in 2010-11: http://science.kqed.org/quest/2011/03/09/life-threatening-mushroom-poisoning/
The cool damp climate of Spring in Davis is perfect for the growth of fungus. In the Arboretum and all around the city mushrooms can be found at this time of year. Hopefully a mycologist will join the wiki and enumerate them all for us.
For information on mushrooms available in stores in Davis, visit Commercial Mushrooms in Davis.
Mushrooms found in Davis
- Agaricus spp.
- Agaricus xanthodermus - Poisonous
- Agaricus californicus - Poisonous
- Agaricus campestris (Meadow Mushroom) - Edible, but take care not to confuse it with A. xanthodermus or A. californicus
- Agaricus cupreo-brunneus (Brown Meadow Mushroom) - Edible, similar to A. campestris
- Agaricus bitorquis (torq) - Edible, compare with A. bernardii.
- Chlorophyllum spp. (Shaggy parasol) - Some are edible, though some people are allergic
- Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Mane) - Edible
Coprinopsis atramentaria (Inky cap)
- don't drink alcohol for the next couple days, Coprinus mushrooms have Coprine, a Disulfiram like toxin that is used to treat alcoholics; it is safe to eat if you aren't planning on drinking
- Conocybe spp. - Should not be eaten, some contain amatoxins.
- Pholiotina spp. - Deadly poisonous
- Inocybe spp. - Most Inocybe are poisonous.
- Psathyrella spp.
- Psathyrella candolleana - Reported edible, but can be difficult to distinguish from some other Psathyrella spp.
Armillaria mellea (Honey Mushroom)
- use caution - these can resemble a deadly species, which also grows on wood at the same time of year - some people are made sick by these so if you decide to eat it please try only a very small amount the first time and cook it well, otherwise choice edible
- Hebeloma spp. - All Hebeloma species should be considered poisonous.
- Hypholoma fasciculare (Sulfur tuft) - Poisonous
- Omphalotus olivascens (Western Jack O Lantern) - Poisonous
- Lactarius alnicola - Inedible, strongly latently acrid (Peppery)
- Lactarius pubescens - Inedbile, strongly acrid.
- Trametes versicolor. (Turkey tail) - Inedible, but used in Asia to make medicinal tea
You can also visit mushroom observer to see pictures of many fungi in Davis.
Those looking for edible varieties should check out the Farmers Market, as there is one table full of nothing but various mushrooms. Those looking for the mood enhancing varieties should contact their local drug dealer. In case you are curious, the most popular active species are Psilocybe cubensis, Psilocybe semilanceata, Psilocybe cyanescens, Psilocybe stunzii and Gymnopilus spectabilis. Most of these are indistinct brown mushrooms which resemble billions of other uninteresting brown mushrooms, and a couple of deadly poisonous ones.
If you seek the absolute best edible mushrooms, your best bet is to somehow head to Mendocino county or Bodega Bay during the late fall to early spring after the rains. Some prized edibles you may find may include oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), chantrelles (Cantharellus californicus and Cantherellus subalbidus) and boletes (Boletus sp.).
Those interested in a more scholarly knowledge of mushrooms can enroll in PLP 40 and learn how to grow your own. This class is given winter quarter.
Visit our Town Flora page for more information on plants and fungi found locally.