The Gem-studded Puffball is found and eaten in many countries. In Australia they are found in Pine forest and Rain-forest of Temperate regions and the Sub-tropics. Autumn is the season. They can be differentiated from other puffballs by the scars left from the spines falling away. These scars look like little craters. They are stalked and at least the height of a large Bic lighter. As they mature the central vent opens waiting for rain drops to propel the spores into air currents.
Gem-studded puffballs can be eaten while the interior is firm and white before the spores develop. They can be found alone or in troops, sometimes clustered.
The below picture shows white interior but larvae have entered.
In the below picture you can see the central vent with surrounding scars present. The broken piece on the right shows spore colour of mature specimen.
Eventually all that”s left is the papery capsule which you can identify from the scars around the vent.
There are Poisonous Scleroderma species occurring in similar habitats.
Some Poisonous Amanita species look like white balls when young. When cut through the center the encased mushroom shape can be seen.
Another common puffball of sub-tropical Rain-forest is Morganella pupurascens which is found growing on logs and is the size of a marble.
There is also a pink oyster, the following pictures are taken with a tripod as they were too high up on a dead branch of a fig tree.
Recently a friend said he had tried the Australian Chicken of the woods and I thought that’s good confirmation, It’s a wood fungi that has to be eaten young and well cooked. Tastes pretty good, meaty and good texture. The edible Laetiporus species of the world are generally eaten with caution, ie small amount of young fungi well cooked, give it a day make sure you don’t have allergies before having larger amounts. This species occurs at least between Dorrigo NSW and Sunshine Coast Qld.
Best stage to eat when young. Still good to eat at this stage.
Occasionally chickens can be observed growing on living trees. Australian Eucalyptus introduced to California produce Laetiporus species that are also eaten. DNA analysis could tell an interesting story.
Mature forms with colour bands still present.
Long tubes or pores.
References- Growing gourmet and medicinal mushrooms by Paul Stamets.
Hedgehogs are spiny underneath the cap. Appearing through Winter when most mushrooms have retreated. Look out for apricot colours peering through the mulch around Tea trees, Casuarina with mixed Eucalyptus. Pine plantations where Tea tree is present on the edges. Often along the edges of Fire Trails. Carefully brushing the caps and stems with a pastry brush after cutting helps to minimise grit and debris. Distribution is as far north as the Sunshine Coast, and prevalent in Temperate regions. Tas, Vic, NSW, SA, WA.
Australian field guides previously listed Hydum repandum as a single species. Hydum repandum is now known to be a complex of species so far consisting of DNA confirmation for Hydnum crocidens. There is a Chestnut capped variety listed as Hydnum sp. chestnut.
Video Link-Hydnum repandum
Video Link- Hydnum sp. chestnut
Tall Trees and Mushrooms
Early Spring is worth searching burnt areas for fire morels…
Flavour and texture is best when collected young. They have to be cooked well, some people have a reaction similar to Coprinus when consumed with alcohol. So always sample a small piece and give it a day.
Careful collection using a pastry brush to clean as you go greatly improves the culinary experience. They are grey initially becoming some what beige, at this point they are best for eating before the flesh thins.
They dry easily and can be kept in the freezer. You will find morels in ”mushroom dried mixes” imported from Europe. To rehydrate use enough hot water to soak up without leaving excess. Morels are traditionly used to flavour sauce. I like to use a liquid filling of egg and garlic.
Found in NSW, Vic, SA, WA.
Making a spore print or culture helps to preserve the species. Cultivation attempts have proven successful from spore and clone, transfer to grain, transfer to supplemented sawdust.
Spores of M.elata
Clone of M.elata pin.
More on morels
Tall trees and Mushrooms
Tropical Chanterelles grow on you quickly. They are tasty and abundant when found. The geographical range is yet to be determined. Ribbon wood appears to be the host tree, though they may be hosted by other species in different locations such as Kuranda or around Cairns. The seeds of Ribbon wood germinate easily and having the added bonus of a commercially viable mushroom may be Ribbon woods ticket to a secure future. There are nurseries selling the seedlings- Rainforest nursery.
DNA testing is in the process. There is no doubt this species will be of commercial value. Tropical countries such as Thailand lead the way in developing techniques for inoculating Mycorrhizal Host Trees.
This Tropical species of Cantharellus is large, up to hand size. Another large Cantharellus is the Smooth Chanterelle.
More about Chanterelles in the Tropics.
Salmon gum bolete is the common name in Australia, they are best eaten young when hard and firm having a nutty flavour. Once they have matured the texture and flavour is lost and they turn to mush. Being saprophytic they lend themselves to cultivation. Growing from 15cm up to 60cm in diameter. Appearing in Autumn.
Above and below- young Salmon gum boletes before the pores open. Picking at the young cap reveals a beige colour. Taste is neutral raw. The caps are black with olive tints, felty in texture. The stem is bulbous and matches the cap in colours.
Below- dissected showing a slight beige discolouration.
Below- mature specimens, showing yellow pores and having a yellow spore print. By this point they will just cook up to mush. Phlebopus marginatus is foraged and cultivated throughout SE Asia and China.
Below- Caps show cracking
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