Observation 67517: Gyromitra esculenta (Pers.) Fr.
When: 2011-05-14
No herbarium specimen
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You can’t assume
By: Irene Andersson (irenea)
2011-06-25 00:18:32 BDT (+0600)

that these are harmless to “try once for the experience” without parboiling! That’s the kind of reasoning that can cause severe poisonings, and it probably has done that too.

By: Hamilton (ham)
2011-06-24 00:19:56 BDT (+0600)

He said beefsteak morel, but yeah, maybe it was another Gyromitra.

By: walt sturgeon (Mycowalt)
2011-06-23 19:23:32 BDT (+0600)

Your chiropractor might have been eating another species in Iowa where I would assume G. esculenta is rare. Personally I avoid eating all Gyromitra species.

By: Alan Rockefeller (Alan Rockefeller)
2011-06-23 16:09:12 BDT (+0600)

I found one of the field course participants and told her not to eat them.

Great tasting fungus…
By: Drew Parker (mycotrope)
2011-06-23 10:29:15 BDT (+0600)

These fellas have been implicated in too much bodily harm to make a habit of eating them on a regular basis, parboiled or not. That said, I’ve tried them without parboiling to assess taste a time or two and found them to be delicious. And I don’t think it very risky to try them once for the experience. I have heard from a friend that parboiling ruins their flavor. I know a local who calls them “French Morels”, and eats them regularly in season and cans them by the quart for the rest of the year. He likes them better than morels. I’m sure many people eat them all their lives without being aware that it can lead to serious problems.

My chiropractor-
By: Hamilton (ham)
2011-06-23 07:16:40 BDT (+0600)

said that he and his family ate this mushroom quite a bit in Iowa, without parboiling. When I told him they were toxic he didn’t believe me.

if the late Larry Stickney was still around…
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2011-06-23 07:04:45 BDT (+0600)

you can be assured that he would rise to their defense! This was one topic upon which we agreed to disagree.

you are absolutely right…too many unknowns and a big downside. goodness knows there are plenty of other mushrooms out there for mycophagists to munch, that don’t put your liver at potential risk.

By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2011-06-23 05:25:29 BDT (+0600)

for your comments, debbie. It appears that the verdict is that there is no sure verdict, and caution should therefore be exercised.

I’m surprised to see no one rise up in defense of Gyromitraphagy…

one other point…
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2011-06-21 21:16:52 BDT (+0600)

there is a misconception about Gyromitra poisonings in the west, i.e. that they are simply one of those individual rxns. to a mushroom that can occur to anyone at any time, the “allergic” theory.

Serious Gyromitra poisonings, even along the west coast (as documented in Michael Beug’s synopsis of 30 years of reported poisonings across the US, published in McIlvainea Vol. 16, No.2, Fall 2006) show liver toxicity.

This is not an “allergic” rxn., but a serious poisoning.

You can view the data yourself by following this link to the NAMA website:


your or your friend’s safety is dependant upon many variables…
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2011-06-21 21:01:09 BDT (+0600)

and of course, TASTE is completely beside the point.

Gyromitra esculenta is a toxic mushroom, period. One can make it less toxic through an initial parboiling (but don’t inhale the fumes) and long cooking, but you can never remove ALL of the MMH. The Western US collections are generally regarded to have less MMH than those found in other places, but we DON’T KNOW WHY!!!

One theory (proposed in the excellant, well-researched medical guide, “Handbook of Mushroom Poisoning”) is air temps…the colder the spring, the more toxic the mushroom (sound like this year to you?). Even if your mushroom is less toxic than most, and of course you are aware that it has caused many deaths in Europe, the toxins are still accumulative and HIGHLY carcinogenic.

SOME people appear to be able to eat it with impunity: Larry Stickney was one. But the ability to eat it without serious consequences, proper preparation aside, is also due to ones genetics: whether or not they can quickly acetylize the MMH into less toxic chemical forms. Some can, some can’t.

Sound delicious?

I do not recommend this as an edible species.

By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2011-06-21 12:17:45 BDT (+0600)

my cooking method of choice was butter and olive oil in a skillet. i’ve since read of a double parboil as the “preferred” preparation in order to ensure the elimination of as much gyromitrin as possible, but cannot ascertain whether this is recommended only for those non-Western US specimens which contain higher concentrations of the toxin, or it’s simply standard practice, regardless of geographic distribution.

By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2011-06-21 12:03:39 BDT (+0600)

I’ve collected a healthy (dubious choice of words) amount of G. esculenta from beneath Grand Fir and Ponderosa Pine south of Mt. Hood, more on account of the excitement of one of the Sierra Nevada Spring Fungi course participants than my own desire to collect these for the table. Her giddiness is directly the result of our own Mike Wood’s emphaticness for their taste, which he is reputed for claiming to be superior to that of morels. Mike, I apologize in advance if the telephone game has misquoted you, but at least you know what kind of talk is about from hearsay first heard in the Sierra.

Now I’m looking odiously at my concoction made of a single, experimental serving of G. esculenta with white rice, after consulting text after website after text after website, unable to find an absolute and certain ruling on the edibility of the species as it occurs in Oregon, much less the whole of the PNW. I’m aware of the potential for allergic reactions depending on individual metabolisms. This appears to be a constant across continents. It’s this notion of blanket edibility of G. esculenta in the Western US (allergic reactions aside) that is a little less than bulletproof, as sources appear to contradict each other. It’s that bit of conventional wisdom I’m out to confirm or deny here, once and for all.

Mike and/or anyone else, please feel free to chime in (the sooner the better, as my dinner is getting cold) to offer up your thoughts on the matter. I’d go through a few trusted leaves of the OMS phone tree if it weren’t approaching 11 o’clock at night here. The fruits of this debate will contribute to the advice I give said field course students who have since returned to the bay with a bag o G. esculenta in tow, all of whom I insisted await word from me or a local authority of their choosing before wantonly digging in.

Created: 2011-05-17 09:24:28 BDT (+0600)
Last modified: 2011-09-23 05:43:06 BDT (+0600)
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