.:: Mycofile Fall 2000 ::. >> Archive
Editor: Daphne Cant

Mycofile contributors
Daphne Cant,
Ann Leathem,
Eileen Seto
& David Tamblin

Article Index

Summer Barbecue at Graystone's

Peter and Jill Graystone held, what has fast become, an annual barbecue on their mushroom farm this past August 27th. Reports were very enthusiastic indeed with the big wood barbecue doing yeomans services to all manner of foodstuffs. VMS members numbers around 30 of the estimated 70 attendees. Jurgen filetted salmon and prepared mushrooms for the multitudes. Mushroom types included wild Black Chantrelles; cultivated white and king oyster; lobster; bear claw and enoke. Chicken of the Wood was available but remained uncooked as the crowds were sate. Salmon, fresh corn, baked potato and good dessert rounded off the meal. Many thanks again to Peter and Jill Graystone for their wonderful hospitality. Summer barbecues are always a lot of fun and this was happily, no exception.

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Response to Lyophyllum
- in response to a query printed in the last Mycofile -

I wasn't deluged with answers to questions I posed on genus Lyophyllum; it is obviously not a group of mushrooms that causes excitement. The most interesting response came from Paul Kroeger; he noted that in an article in a recent Mycologia reported that other fungi had been found to have granules in their basidia which darken with a carmine stain. The one characteristic that defined Lyophyllums is invalid.
When research funds become available, some scholarly taxonomist may well split genus Lyophyllum into its natural components and we shall have to learn some more genera names. Of course, while he/she is at it, Collybia's may reconsidered along with other members of that diverse group labelled Tricholomataceae.

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From Hallucinogenic Fungi of Mexico
by Robert Gordon Wasson

I do not recall which of us, my wife or I, first dared to put into words back in the forties the surmise that our own remote ancestors, perhaps 4000 years ago, worshipped a divine mushroom. In the fall of 1952 we learned that the 16th century writers, describing the Indian cultures of Mexico, had recorded that certain mushrooms played a divine role in the religion of the natives. The so-called mushroom stones really represented mushrooms, and that they were the symbol of a religion, like the cross in the Christian religion or the star of Judea or the crescent of the Moslems. Thus we find a mushroom in the center of the cult with perhaps the longest continuous history in the world.We have found this cult of the divine mushroom a revelation, in the true meaning of that abused word, though for the Indians it is an everyday feature, albeit a holy mystery, of their lives
There are no apt words to characterize your state when you are, shall we say, "Bemushroomed."

Whåt wë ñèéd î§ å vøçåßµlãr¥ tø d맩ríþê ªll thë mºdålïtïê§ ðf å dïvïñë ïñéþrïåñt.

These difficulties in communicating have played their part in certain amusing situations. Two psychiatrists who have taken the mushroom and known the experience in its full dimensions have been criticized in professional circles as being no longer "objective." Thus we are all divided into two classes: those who have taken the mushroom and are disqualified by our subjective experience and those who have not taken the mushroom and are disqualified by their total ignorance of the subject. I am profoundly grateful to my Indian friends for having initiated me into the tremendous mystery of the mushroom. Of alcohol they speak with the same jocular vulgarity that we do. But about mushrooms they prefer not to speak at all, at least when they are in company and especially when strangers, white strangers, are present. Then, when evening and darkness come and you are alone with a wise old man or woman whose confidence you have won, by the light of a candle held in the hand and talking in a whisper, you may bring up the subject. They are never exposed in the marketplace but pass from hand to hand by prearrangement.

The Aztecs before the Spanish arrived called them Teonanacatl, God's flesh. I need hardly remind you of a disquieting parallel, the designation of the elements in our Eucharist: "Take, eat, this is my body ...", and again, "Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of Thy dear son..." The orthodox Christian must accept by faith the miracle of the conversion of the bread into God's flesh: That is what is meant by the Doctrine of Transubstantiation. In the language of the Mazatecs the sacred mushrooms are called 'nti si tho. The first word, 'nti, is a particle expressing reverence and endearment. The second element means "that which springs forth."

"The little mushroom comes of itself, no one knows whence, like the wind that comes we know not whence nor why." For more than four centuries the Indians have kept the divine mushroom close to their hearts, sheltered from desecration by white men, a precious secret. We know that today there are many curanderos who carry on the cult, each according to his lights, some of them consummate artists, performing the ancient liturgy in remote huts before miniscule congregations.

They are hard to reach, these curanderos. Do not think that it is a question of money.

Perhaps you will learn the names of a number of reknown curanderos, and your emissaries will even promise to deliver them to you, but then you wait and wait and they never come. You will brush past them in the marketplace, they will know you, but you will not know them. The judge in the town hall may be the very man you are seeking: And you may pass the time of day with him, yet never learn that he is your curandero. After all, would you have it any different? What priest of the Catholic Church will perform mass to satisfy an unbeliever's curiosity?

Religion in primitive society was an awesome reality, "terrible" in the original meaning of the word, pervading all life and culminating in ceremonies that were forbidden to the profane. Let me point out certain parallels between our Mexican rite and the mystery performed at Eleusis. At the heart of the mystery of Eleusis lay a secret. In the surviving texts there are numerous references to the secret, but in none is it revealed. From the writings of the Greeks, from a fresco in Pompeii, we know that the initiate drank a potion. Then, in the depths of the night, he beheld a great vision, and the next day he was still so awestruck that he felt he would never be the same man as before. What the initiate experienced was "new, astonishing, inaccessible to rational cognition." It also seems significant that the Greeks were wont to refer to mushrooms as "the food of the gods," broma theon, and that Porphyrius is quoted as having called them "nurslings of the gods," Theotrophos.

They were not for mortal man to eat, at least not every day. We might be dealing with what was in origin a religious tabu... I do not suggest that St. John of Patmos ate mushrooms in order to write the book of Revelation. Yet the succession of images in his vision, so clearly seen but such a phantasmagoria, means for me that he was in the same state as one bemushroomed. The advantage of the mushroom is that it puts many (if not everyone) within reach of this state without having to suffer the mortifications of Blake and St. John.

It permits you to see, more clearly than our perishing mortal eye can see, vistas beyond the horizons of this life, to travel backwards and forwards in time. To enter other planes of existence, even (as the Indians say) to know God. All that you see during this night has a prisine quality: the landscape, the edifices, the carvings, the animals - they look as though they had come straight from the Maker's workshop. This newness of everything - it is as if the world had just dawned - overwhelms you and melts you with its beauty. All these things you see with an immediacy of vision that leads you to say to yourself, "Now I am seeing for the first time, seeing direct, without the intervention of mortal eyes."

It is clear to me where Plato found his ideas. It was clear to his contemporaries too. Plato had drunk of the potion in the Temple of Eleusis and had spent the night seeing the great vision. And all the time you are seeing these things, the priestess sings, not loud but with authority. Your body lies in the darkness, heavy as lead, but your spirit seems to soar and leave the hut, and with the speed of thought to travel where it wishes in time and space, accompanied by the shaman's singing and by the ejaculations of her percussive chant.

What you are seeing and what you are hearing appears as one: The music assumes harmonious shapes, giving visual form to its harmonies, and what you are seeing takes on the modalities of music - the music of the spheres. All your senses are similarly affected: The cigarette with which you occasionally break the tension of the night smells as no other cigarette before had ever smelled. The glass of water is infinitely better than champagne.
The bemushroomed person is poised in space, a disembodied eye, invisible, incorporeal, seeing but not seen. In truth, he is the five senses disembodied, all of them keyed to the height of sensitivity and awareness, all of them blending into one another most strangely, until the person, utterly passive, becomes a pure receptor, infinitely delicate, of sensations. As your body lies there in its sleeping bag, your soul is free, loses all sense of time, alert as it never was before, living an eternity in a night, seeing infinity in a grain of sand. What you have seen and heard is cut as with a burin into your memory, never On the other hand, the drug is as mysterious as it ever was: Like the wind it cometh we know not whence nor why.

If our classical scholars were given the opportunity to attend the rite at Eleusis, to talk with the priestess, they would exchange anything for that chance. They would approach the precincts, enter the hallowed chamber with the reverence born of the texts venerated by scholars for millennia.
And what would be their frame of mind if they were invited to partake of the potion? Well, those rites take place now, unbeknownst to the classical scholars, in scattered dwellings, humble, thatched, without windows, far from the beaten track. If it is the rainy season, perhaps the mystery is accomplished by torrental rains and punctuated by terrifying thunderbolts. Then, indeed, as you lie there bemushroomed, listening to the music and seeing visions, you know a soul-shattering experience, recalling as you do the belief of some primitive peoples that mushrooms, the sacred mushrooms, are divinely engendered by Jupiter Fulminans, the god of the lightning bolt, in the soft mother earth.

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Preserving Harvested Mushrooms cont'd
Part III of VII
Article reprinted from The Mycophile, Newsletter of the North American Mycological Association,
Vol 40:5, Sept/Oct 1999. By John Rahart

Mushroom gathering in New Mexico, especially collecting for the pot, is often sparse, but punctuated with episodes of abundance. Especially during these avalanches of abundance, preserving the harvest and preventing waste can be demanding to be sure. People often ask me what I collect at such times. Though I touched upon this previously in a newsletter, people continue to press me for a more comprehensive dissertation. So here goes.
1. Blanching and Freezing - This section was printed in Winter 2000 edition.
2. Steaming - Published in Spring 2000
3. Oil or Butter Sauteing - then Freezing - My favorite method of perserving Agaricus mushrooms, especially those with anise or almond overtones. Boletes, chanterelles, any of the drier textured mushrooms such as Lobster mushrooms, and Man on Horseback (Tricholoma flavovirens) benefit from saute oils and do this method justice.
Method - Slice, chop, or prepare mushroom pieces as preferred. Fry in butter or olive or walnut oil for any standard fried mushroom dish, stopping the cooking process slightly before normal and allow to cool by transferring mushrooms to cool pie plates, glass or baking dishes, etc. When cool, portion mushrooms into small freezer containers and freeze. To use, simply pop out the portion onto a saute pan with a little of the same oil or butter used to first prepare them. Do not pre-thaw.
Advantages - Reproduces the texture and taste of a mushroom saute best. Easy and convenient.
Disadvantages - Usually more air exposture inside freezer container; and air is what causes freezer burn, so may not preserve the quality for as long in the freezer as those methods excluding air, such as freezing under broth. Patting mushrooms gently to bottom of container into solid block and then placing some plastic wrap directly on mushrooms before covering with container lid helps some.

This is part 3 of 7. Other techniques include: Sautéing then freezing; Drying; Canning; Pickling; and Salting. Stay tuned to future newsletters for details on these other methods of Preserving the mushroom.

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Russia's poison mushroom death toll rises to 95

MOSCOW, July 17 (Reuters) - Poison mushrooms have killed 95 people and hospitalised hundreds of others in Russia so far this summer, local news agencies said on Monday. Russia's RIA news agency reported that 32 people had died after eating the deadly fungus over the past weekend alone, 24 in the region of the central city of Voronezh and eight in Volgograd.

Gathering wild mushrooms in the woods is a favourite Russian pastime during the summer season despite a yearly death toll from toadstools, mistaken for their more edible relatives. Russian Surgeon General Gennady Onishchenko told Ekho Moskvy radio on Monday some of the poisonings were due to the fact that a local variety of the death cap-the world's deadliest mushroom-had mutated to look like ordinary champignons.
Many of the victims were also elderly people with failing eyesight.

Radio and television stations in some regions were cautioning people against collecting any sort of mushrooms, saying even normally edible types could make people ill due to pollution. In Voronezh where the death count was the highest, traders were forbidden to sell mushrooms in markets and police with loudspeakers were posted at the edge of forests repeating a warning: "Pick no mushrooms, they are poisonous."

"But how long can you beg, plead and order these grown people?" Onishchenko asked.

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Tree-killing mushroom is largest living thing ever found
Associated Press

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Beneath the soil of the Malheur Na-tional Forest in
eastern Oregon, a fungus that has been slowly weaving its way through the
roots of trees for cen-turies has become the largest living organism ever
The Armillaria ostoyae, popularly known as the honey mushroom, started
from a single spore too small to see without a microscope and has been
spreading its black shoe-string filaments, called rhizomorphs, through the
forest for an estimated 2,400 years, killing trees as it grows. It now
cov-ers 890 hectares.
"We ended up having on the landscape this humongous fungus," Tina
Dreisbach, a botanist and mycologist at the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific
Northwest Research Station in Corvallis, said Friday.
In 1992, another Armillaria ostoyae was found in Wash-ington state covering
607 hectares near Mount Adams, mak-ing it the largest known organism at the
"We just decided to go out looking for one bigger than the last claim,"
said Gregory Filip, associate professor of integrated forest protection at
Oregon State University and an expert in Armillaria. "There hasn't been
anything mea-sured with any scientific technique that has shown any plant
or animal to he larger than this."
Forest Service scientists are interested in learning to con-trol Armillaria
because it kills trees, Filip said, but they also realize the fungus has
served a purpose in nature for millions of years.
The outline of the giant fungus, strikingly similar to a mushroom,
stretches 5.6 kilometres across, and it extends an average of three feet
into the ground. It covers an area as big as 1,665 football fields. No one
has estimated its weight.
The discovery came after Catherine Parks, a scientist at the Pacific
Northwest Research Station in La Grande, Ore., in 1998 heard about a big
tree die-off from root rot in the for-est east of Prairie City, Ore.
Using aerial photos, Parks staked out an area of dying trees and collected
root samples from 112.
She identified the fungus through DNA testing. Then, by comparing cultures
of the fungus grown from the 112 sam-ples, she determined that 61 were from
the same organism, meaning a single fungus had grown bigger than anything
anyone had ever described before.On the surface, the only evidence of the fungus are clumps of golden
mushrooms that pop up in the fall with the rain. "They are edible, but theydon't taste the best," Dreisbach said. "I would put lots of butter and
garlic on them."

Article contributed by Steven Prahacs and Eileen Seto from The Montreal Gazette, August 6, 2000 :

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Recipe to delight

Recipe: Mushrooms Florentine
serves 4 as an appetizer
12 to 16 medium mushrooms with caps
1/4 lb melted butter
olive oil
1 1/2 tbl. onions, minced
1 tbl shallot, minced
3/4 cup, fresh spinach, cooked and chopped small
1/4 tsp nutmeg, frshly grated
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 tbl Parmigiano or Asiago cheese, grated

1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. Wash mushrooms & remove stems. Dip the caps into 6 tablespoons of the melted butter and place them upside-down in a buttered or oiled baking pan.
3. Chop the stems small and saute them in a little butter and olive oil mix with the minced onion until the stems have lost their water and the onions are limp. Add the minced shallot and cook for 5 minutes more.
4. Add the spinach which has been squeezed very dry, meat (optional), nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir and warm through.
5. Fill the caps with the spinach mixture. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top of the filling and bake for 15 minutes.

(adapted with appreprication from Mycena News, April, 2000 vol 50:4 of The Mycological Society of San Francisco and cooking member Patrick Hamilton)

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Upcoming Dates and Events

Olympic Park Institute is offering an Ecology of Mushrooms course this fall. The course will be given October 20-22 and you can contact the Institute at (800) 775-3720.

Wild Mushrooms 2000 - Breitenbush
October 26-29, 2000
Breitenbush Hot Springs in Detroit, Oregon
17 th Annual event begins at dinner Oct., 26 and runs through to Sunday lunch. Cost $295 US or $235 for weekend only. Deposit of $205 required. Info & registration (503)854-3314

Guest mycologists include:
Patrice Benson ,
Jim Berlstein,
Ed Foy,
Dr. Bryce Kendrick,
Paul Kroeger,
Taylor Lockwood and
Dr. Jim Trappe

Schmok Fall Foray
Oct 13 -15,2000
Location: BCIT Forest Society Woodlot 28101 Dewdney Trunk Road, Maple Ridge, B.C. V2W 1M1. Arrive Friday after 5PM. Signage on Lougheed Hwy. Turn off between 281th and Dewdney Trunk Road. Gate will be shut but unlocked. Follow road signs to Building approximately 5 minutes travel time. Amazing value at $30 for registration, 2 nights accommodation, 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches and a dinner. Accommodation is varied from 2 bedrooms to a big floor to 2 large teepees to the great outdoors for your tent pitching pleasure. We are hoping for 30 people to attend and look forward to many many mushrooms. Partial attendance is also possible and the cost breaks out as follows:
Registration &/or Accommodation $10; Breakfasts @ $3; Lunches @ $4 and dinner @ $6.

Please call David Tamblin before Sept. 29th to register.
Location perks .... wood firplace...slide projector...the great outdoors...stainless steel kitchen...Jurgen & Christine & Victoria in that kitchen...birds in the trees...mushrooms afoot...songs in the heart

* Oct 3, 2000 Tuesday, Regular Meeting 7:30 P.M. The classroom, Van Dusen Gardens, 37th & Oak Street. Paul Koeger will conduct a basic mushroom identification seminar complete with spore prints. Members are encouraged to bring mushrooms for identification.
* Oct 13-15, 2000, Week end foray to Woodlot 007. see insert for more information & registration.
* Oct 22, 2000 Annual Mushroom Show at Van Dusen Gardens. More information on the show will be provided at the next regular meeting.
* Nov 7, 2000 Tuesday, Regular Meeting 7:30 P.M. The classroom, Van Dusen Gardens, 37th & Oak Street.
* January , 2001 time once again for the Annual Survivor's banquet
* Feb 6, 2001, Regular Meeting 7:30 P.M.. The classroom, Van Dusen Gardens, 37th & Oak Street.
* Check out the Mushroom Hotline for up to date information at 878-9878
Other speakers for the regular monthly meetings will include:
*Jeff Chilton of Gibsons and author of a book on Mushroom Cultivation, speaking on same.
* Wilf Schoefield, pre-eminent biologist from UBC will talk on the Alaskan Peninsula & Aleutian Corridor for Mosses.
* Pat Williston, Graduate student dealing with Lichens & The Kamloops Grazing Cattle

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