Let’s Get Excited About Shrooms!

Everybody who’s anybody knows mushrooms are the best rooms, but just in case you’re a nobody or not a body at all, (Ghosts welcome, I don’t discriminate.) I have scoured the depths of cyberspace to bring you very cool things in the form of a quick mycology lesson.

Entoloma hochstetteri

Entoloma hochstetteri

Entoloma hochstetteri — The Sky Blue Mushroom

As you can see, what we have here are some genuine smurfs. Native to both the North and South islands of New Zealand, (and a few places in India) our famous friend is featured on the back of the 1990 version of the New Zealand $50 note. It also ran a brief stint back in 2002 on a set of stamps, but the postal service is on its last limb so no one cares. The most surprising fact about this guy is that even though it was first described in 1866, no one has tried eating it, therefore, it’s toxicity remains undetermined. However, many other species of its genus have been found poisonous and it’s safe to assume it would kill you for a snack.

Amanita muscaria

Amanita muscaria

Amanita muscaria – Fly Amanita

Even though this looks like an innocent family portrait of the Toads from Mario, the Fly Amanita is toxic when raw. Luckily, (to your own discretion) it can be parboiled and “safely” consumed as a hallucinogen. It got it’s grand title as the “fly mushroom” in 1256 when Albert the Great recognized its true potential, killing flies. In contrast to the last shroom, humans are the only species who consume this baby. (I’m not exactly sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.) Regardless, keep all that in mind the next time you’re running around collecting mushrooms to “restore health”.

Panellus stipticus

Panellus stipticus

Panellus stipticus – The Bitter Oyster

This fungus makes the phrase, “better with the lights off” seem almost complimentary. The Bitter Oyster, growing most commonly in mild temperature regions of Europe, is one of a few dozen species of bioluminescent fungi. They’re so fun you can buy and culture them yourself. If that’s what you’re into, you should know they need a few weeks after cultivation to learn to glow and the amount of glow is relative to available oxygen. There’s not much on its toxicity, but the Bitter Oyster does have recorded blood thickening effects so again, I’d say it’s unfit for human consumption.

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