Monday, April 11, 2011

MOMS Saddle Up

Dryad's Saddle from Foray
Sunday we held the first foray of the Springfield Chapter of the Missouri Mycological Society, led by our intrepid foray leader, Michael Baird.  Because of the dryness of the soil, there were relatively few fresh species found, but the quantity was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the MOMS crew.

Michael found four small morels (which he refused to share- see the future proposed change in the ethics portion of his job description).  The star of the show was
Dryad's Saddle mushrooms.  which are commonly found in the spring when people are out looking for morels.  In addition to the season, these mushrooms favor dying elms, a favorite site for morel hunters.

Dryads in Greek literature were wood nymphs, specifically the nymphs of oak  trees, though the term has come to be used for all tree nymphs in general.  The saddle shape of this mushroom was felt to be just the right size for a wood nymph.  The Greek gods punished any mortals who harmed trees without first giving gifts to the tree-nymphs.  Perhaps if we knew what the Greek gods felt were appropriate gifts for morels we would have had more success this weekend.

Dryad's Saddle-  Wikimedia
Like many other fungi, it is valuable in the woods, decomposing wood.  Just imagine what our woods would look like if fungi didn't start breaking down dead trees - dead tree trunks stacked hundreds of feet high?  This polypore especially likes elms but also works on maples, poplar, willow, beech and ash.
The body can be yellow to brown and has "squamules" or scales on its upper side. On the underside one can see the pores that are characteristic of the genus Polyporus; they are made up of tubes packed together closely. The tubes are between 1 and 12 mm long. The stalk is thick and short, up to 5 cm (2.0 in) long.  -Wikipedia 
The most intriguing part of this mushroom was its odor, a nearly perfect mimic of watermelon rind!  Maxine Stone in Mushrooms of Missouri describes a way to turn it in to a mimic of watermelon candy!

Here is the  News-Leader story on the foray.

I am including multiple mushroom references so you can judge for yourself what online sites are most valuable to you. by Michael Kuo. with more pictures. with pictures and cooking suggestions.

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