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280 days of Urbpandemonium #203

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All-white gilled mushrooms coming directly from dead wood? Oyster mushroom, you have to say. But not exactly--this one gets associated with the oyster group because of its similarities, but has some important differences. This mushroom with its all-white almost translucent flesh always feeds on dead conifers. (True oyster mushrooms will grow on almost anything--I grew some on my junk mail.)

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These beauties are more accurately called "angel wings" Pleurocybella porrigens. Like the oyster mushroom, these have been collected as food for ages--plus they are easy to identify and hard to confuse with much else. Unfortunately, it turns out they are toxic, containing a cytotoxic fatty acid. There have been fatalities, mostly of elderly people in Japan who happened to also have pre-existing kidney problems.

Younger people with healthy kidneys may be able to eat moderate amounts of angel wings without health problems--but modern field guides play it safe, listing this formerly "edible" species as "poisonous."

"Pleuro-" means side, and "porrigens" means extending forward, both refer to the way the mushroom emerges straight out from the side of its substrate. The -cybella part is a bit of mystery. The spelling is close to Cybele, an ancient mother/nature goddess, but the pronunciation suggested puts it closer to "sibella," a Greek word meaning "prophetess."

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
froganon
Nov. 10th, 2015 06:44 am (UTC)

I know they're hard to tell apart casually though these seem to have a different "look" about them even on the sides of their tops than the oysters do. Thanks for this. Very informative.

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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