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When: 2016-05-07

Collection location: Centre Co., Pennsylvania, USA [Click for map]

Who: Dave W (Dave W)

No specimen available

By a dead elm.

At first I thought this large specimen may be Gyromitra (Discina?) caroliniana. But the brown color suggests otherwise.

Spores 24-28 × 11-14, with projections at the poles and 1-3 oil droplets.

If anyone is interested, I will dehydrate a sample.


Neither the marginal projections nor the oil drops visible in KOH.
In Congo red, marginal projections seen as spines at the poles, but oil drops barely visible.
In H2O, marginal projections appear to be rounded; oil droplets visible (the two smaller lateral ones).

Proposed Names

12% (4)
Recognized by sight
88% (5)
Recognized by sight

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= Observer’s choice
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Add Comment
Agreed. The toxin levels do vary depending on
By: Judi T. (AvidAmateur)
2016-05-13 20:48:50 MDT (-0600)

location where they are growing. Influence of soil, climate, etc., no doubt … or maybe even slight genetic variations. Who knows?? Additionally, there’s always the possible carcinogenic effects of cumulative consumption (as you mentioned) of “rocket fuel”; but that, of course, wouldn’t be evident for many years.

The eating of False Morels…
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2016-05-13 20:42:15 MDT (-0600)

is viewed differently in different regions of the US/world.

“Big Red” (Gyromitra/Discina? caroliniana) is a favorite edible in some areas of eastern NA. From what I’ve gathered, this species and brunnea are related. But I have seen no positive reports on the edibility of brunnea.

There are stories backing up the “fumes” assertion. Perhaps the most controversial mushroom in the world is Gyromitra esculenta.

Dave, I attended a lecture given by the head toxicologist
By: Judi T. (AvidAmateur)
2016-05-13 19:18:11 MDT (-0600)

for the National Poison Control Center (sponsored by the Missouri Mycological Society). I learned from him that Gyromitra contain a toxin that is chemically identical to rocket fuel! Amounts vary from specimen to specimen depending on locale. Eating them is s little like Russian Roulette. Some folks have apparently gotten away with it without any ill effects, in the short term anyway. It is especially dangerous to inhale the “rocket fuel” vapors given off during cooking. I’d stick to the genuine morels instead of the false ones=)

On one occasion…
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2016-05-13 19:01:58 MDT (-0600)

I ate some Gyromitra korfii, which is basically a small version (fruit body as well as spores) of G. montana. G. korfii is easily confused with G/D brunnea; at one point both species were called G. fastigiata. I rehydrated a small portion of korfii, par-boiled, sauteed and sampled. Pretty good. But I worry about possible cumulative effects.

In the field guides, brunnea has a bad reputation. So I have never tried it.

fun with nomenclature!
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2016-05-13 09:03:09 MDT (-0600)

so, do you folks eat brunnea out east? It certainly bears a close resemblance to our G. montana of the west, one of the very few Gyromitra species that might well be non-toxic. We recently had an interesting and quite extensive discussion on these gyromitras on the NAMA discussion group.

Russula Rye…
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2016-05-13 08:36:58 MDT (-0600)

I don’t get the “as if”…?

Although there is a question about the correct genus here, Index Fungorum lists it as Discina. A recent discussion with Michael Beug (coauthor, Ascomycete Fungi of NA) confirms this current lack of closure.

Thanks, Dave!
By: I. G. Safonov (IGSafonov)
2016-05-09 22:05:38 MDT (-0600)

Hopefully you can transfer the goodies to us when we see you in late June for the VGF.

I have preserved a piece…
By: Dave W (Dave W)
2016-05-09 21:51:14 MDT (-0600)

of this material. NJMA may have it.

BTW, I’ve got some other material from collections made last year that I’d like to donate to NJMA.

Hi, Dave
By: I. G. Safonov (IGSafonov)
2016-05-09 21:47:59 MDT (-0600)

Could you please preserve this specimen for the NJMA Herbarium? Many thanks!