Number 338, January 1998

Spore Prints

Electronic Edition is published monthly, September through Juneby the
Puget Sound Mycological Society
Center for Urban Horticulture, Box 354115
University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195
(206) 522-6031

Agnes A. Sieger, Editor
Dick Sieger, HTML Editor


Tuesday, January 13, at 7:30 PM at the Center for UrbanHorticulture, 3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle.

Our first speaker of the year is lichenologist Katherine Glew.Her talk is entitled “The Importance of Lichens.” Katieis an instructor in the Department of Botany at the University ofWashington. She holds a Masters degree in Science Education, andfor 20 years taught biological, oceanographic, meteorological, andenvironmental sciences in the public school system. In 1990 she wasselected “Washington State Biology Teacher of the Year.”Ms. Glew will complete her Ph.D. in March 1998. Her currentprojects include lichen taxonomy and ecology, an inventory ofalpine lichens in the Olympic and North Cascades mountains, andtheir associations with vascular plants. She has been curator ofthe lichen herbarium at the University of Washington for15 years and serves on the Executive Board for the AmericanBryological andLichenological ! Society. Those who attended the 1993 NAMAForay will remember Katie’s fascinating presentation onlichens as the foray’s surprise hit. Welcome back,Katie!

If your last name begins with the letters F–K, please bringa plate of refreshments for the social hour.


Jan. 13 Membership meeting, 7:30 PM, CUH
Jan. 19 Board meeting, 7:30 PM
Jan. 23 Spore Prints deadline
Feb. 4–8 Flower and Garden Show, Seattle Convention andTrade Center.

BOARD NEWS Agnes Sieger

The roster and the March Spore Prints will be mailed tomembers who are active as of February 28, 1998. Raffle and cardsales at the December meeting totaled $118. Book sales were $54.60.Henry Lingat volunteered to help with a book inventory in January.Dan Tanabe distributed the December income statement and a budgetproposal for 1998. The Nominating Committee reported that they hadfive board candidates so far; no one had yet agreed to run forTreasurer. Doug Ward volunteered to make up a calendar of eventsfor 1998. The exact date and place of the Survivor’s Banquetin March are still pending. Doug Ward was thanked for purchasingand assembling the new desk in the office. Coleman Leuthy retrievedthe old desk, which he had loaned the Society. Joanne Youngreported that Gail Dahm of Olympia would like to make a donation tothe Society in the name of her aunt Gladys (Lee) Underwood, whorecently died. The heating system in the board room was not on.Henry Ling! at and Irwin Kleinman fiddled with the heat controlwith no success. By the end of the meeting, several members showedearly signs of hypothermia, but Henry and Irwin lookedcomfortable.


Masako came to Seattle in 1979 directly from Tokyo. With adegree in chemistry, she is working for Pacific Coca Cola BottlingCompany in their quality control laboratory. In Japan she lived ina number of different places since her father was engaged intrading. Among other merchandise, fungi—Shiitake—was oneof the commodities he dealt in. Masako enjoyed eating mushrooms andcooking with fungi.

When Masako lived in Japan, one mushroom industry dominated thescene. They owned a mountain and hotel, the “KinokoKaikan,” in Kiryu, northwest of Tokyo. It served seven-coursedinners, all with shiitake, and the decor of the hotel was mushroomoriented, with mushroom patterns on the linens, etc. Tours of thegrowing facilities and a look at the inoculated logs and relatedcultivation activities were also available.

Masako joined PSMS in 1995 after receiving a flyer on thesociety during a visit to the Bellevue Botanical Gardens. While sheenjoys Seattle’s cool climate, being outdoors getting cold andwet is not to her liking. Going on some field trips in the IcicleCreek area, she found her first morels, which don’t grow inJapan, but she also remembers trips when she didn’t findanything. Once she got separated from her group, and even herwhistle could not bring her in contact. So now Masako has asure-fire hunting grounds and is willing to let us in onit—she picks her mushrooms at Larry’s, Uwajimaya’s,and The Mushroom Lady’s booth at the University Districtfarmer’s market.

Masako owns many cookbooks and is always looking forward toSpore Prints, checking out recipes first. She has lots offun helping in the mycophagy section at the annual exhibit andtakes photos at cooking demonstrations. She took photos of thisyear’s special creations for the Christmas party. Livetheater, and especially cabaret, is of great enjoyment to her.

The Kinoko Kaikan still is in operation. How about a field trip to Kiryu? Masako will interpret.


More than 30 valuable dogs have been poisoned since the start ofthe truffle hunting season in Italy last October. Most of thevictims have been truffle hunters, though some that gobbled up thedeadly bait, mainly meat laced with strychnine, have been gamehunting dogs. The deaths are centered in a swathe of landstretching about 30 miles north of Perugia and about 12 mileswide, just one of the places in the regions of Umbria, Tuscany, andPiedmont known for truffles. No one knows who is killing the dogs,but most fingers point to truffle seekers trying to scare awaycompetitors from their favorite hunting grounds.

“When dogs are dying, people don’t go looking fortruffles in that area,” said Inspector Rolando Radicchi, aforest ranger based in the region. “We are investigating, butit’s not easy to find the culprits.”

Because of a particularly dry summer, the price of truffles hassoared, with top-notch specimens of whitetrufflesfetching around 2.5 million lire ($1,430) a kilogram (2.2 lb).Truffle hunters, generally part-timers who must pass an exam and belicensed, can earn up to $18,000 a season.

Truffle hunters are known as a highly secretive and competitivebunch. They frequently deal only deal in cash to avoid taxes, andfraud is not uncommon say truffle regulators and buyers.Unscrupulous ones mix tasteless Chinese truffles with the realthing to pad their sales, said OlgaUrbani, whose Spoleto-based company is Italy’s largestexporter and manufacturer of truffle products.

Restaurateur Pierluigi Manfroni, a nationally recognized truffleexpert, said another trick is to fill truffles that have holes withdirt or buckshot to increase their weight. One hunter even sold hima large, and thus more valuable, truffle that actually was madefrom several truffles stuck together.


Patrice Benson would like a copy of Wild Foods by RogerPhillips to replace a copy she lost.


This Christmas will be memorable in our family because of ourfriend Denny Bowman’s unusually thoughtful and unique gift, asack of crap. Denny arranged for it to be carried by messenger for8,000 miles from Thailand to Seattle so it would arrive fresh andin time for the holidays. His gift included elephant, waterbuffalo, and gecko droppings.

To understand my delight, you have to know that I developed afondness for dung while attending Dr. Dan Stuntz’s ascomyceteclass in 1980, where I learned that wonderful fungi grow onherbivore dung that is kept in a moist chamber.

Dung fungi are easy to cultivate. Moisten a folded paper toweland put it in a 2-cup Pyrex dish. Add fresh or air-dried herbivoredung and cover the dish with its glass lid. Put it in a cool roomand keep the towel moist but not wet. Every other day, examine yourcrop with a magnifying glass or, better still, one of PSMS’sdissecting microscopes. If you want to identify your fungi,you’ll need a compound microscope and some arcaneliterature, both of which are available from the PSMSlibrary.

There seems to be a typical progression of fungi in these tinyfungus gardens. Molds appear first, followed by zygomycetes thatfling sticky spore capsules at the glass lid. Next come theascomycetes—first pimples (pyrenomycetes) and then cups(discomycetes). Finally you may see an exquisite Coprinuswith a minute cap that appears to be encrusted with diamondchips.

Deer, elk, and rabbit dropping are easy to find and culture.Many fungi are particular about the kind of dung they will grow on,so to see a variety of fungus species, select dung from a varietyof animal species. I suspect that dung from different places willproduce a greater variety of fungi. Elephant dung from Thailandwill likely produce fungi quite different from the fungi producedon elephant dung from Seattle.

Avoid carnivore dung. Unlike herbivore dung, which smells earthyor even sweet, carnivore dung smells, well, crappy, and it maycontain dangerous human pathogens. In my it experience, it alsoproduces insects that eat the fungi before they can be observed.Also, in my experience, it’s best to avoid keeping your moistchambers in the kitchen if you have young daughters whose friendsexclaim, “What is that!”


PSMS is again participating in the Northwest Flower and GardenShow February 4–8, 1998, held at the Seattle Convention andTrade Center. PSMS needs volunteers to help plan and construct theexhibit on February 3 and/or staff the booths during show hoursWednesday through Sunday. Volunteers may sign up at the Januarymeeting or call this year’s chair Lynne Elwell. Thoseparticipating are able to attend the flower show at no cost, andstaffing the exhibit is lots of fun.

MushRumors, Oregon Myco. Soc., March–April1997

Most of us think nothing of eating a few sliced, raw,“store bought” mushrooms in salads, on hors d’oeuvretrays, or when preparing them for the frying pan. Usually theamount eaten is so small that we don’t notice any unpleasantsymptoms, but it is not a good idea to eat any mushroom raw. I knowthe commercial growers will laugh and scoff at this statement andsome of you will say you can eat lots of them with no problem, butresearchers have shown that even Agaricus bisporus, the“store bought” mushroom, contains agaritine whichmetabolizes into a hydrazine.

Many hydrazines are known to be strong carcinogens and can befound in a lot of edible mushrooms. Cooking destroys some or all ofthe hydrazines, but the steam given off during cooking has beenknown to make some cooks ill. Besides this fact, the structuralmaterial or cell walls in mushrooms is made of chitin, and humansdon’t have the ability to digest this derivative of cellulose.The body can do several things to this undigested chitin. It canexpel it by vomiting or send it the other way with diarrhea. Smallamounts may pass through the gut with other food andgo unnoticed, or it may stay in the gut where bacteria will work onit causing bloating, gas, and other discomfort. Cooking does notdestroy chitin but may ease its effect. Once in the habit of eatingA. bisporus raw, people think they can eat any mushroomwithout thorough cooking, and this is where they may experiencesome very unpleasant symptoms. In February, a case recorded at theOr! egon Poison Center told of a woman who ate home cultivated, rawPleurotus ostreatus with her lunch and experienced nausea,vomiting, and diarrhea. While this may not be a serious healthproblem it could have been avoided. A better job of educatingpeople about wild collected and cultivated mushrooms isnecessary.

We assume that chefs at good hotels and restaurants know not toserve raw mushrooms, but this isn’t the case. You may recallthat on June 8, 1991, about 70 people were made ill at a largebanquet in Vancouver, B.C., because they were served raw morels andother raw mushrooms in a salad.

The spring verpas, morels, and brainlike mushrooms(Gyromitra) are notorious for their toxicity in the rawstate and, for some people, in the cooked state. Please be carefuland remember that drying is not a substitute for cooking and thatfolding sliced mushrooms into an omelet just before serving orpouring hot vinegar and spices over raw mushrooms is not efficientheating or cooking. The best rule to follow is cook allmushrooms thoroughly before eating and eat them inmoderation.

A good reference for more information about mushrooms and healthis Mushrooms: Poisons and Panaceas by Denis R. Benjamin ofSeattle.


PSMS needs a new Treasurer! Our current esteemed treasurer, DanTanabe, will be stepping down at the end of his term. We still needsomeone to fill his shoes! For more information about this positionor about nominations to the board of trustees, please call WayneElston, Marsi DiGiovanni, or Joanne Young. Nominations will closein January.


We recently received the following letter from Patricia R.Donaldson, Treasurer-Membership Secretary of the Arizona MushroomSociety:

Please thank Dick for directions to the old growth forest atSquires Creek Park in Snohomish Co. in late September. Our rainySeattle vacation was considerably brightened and our Arizonamushroom experience was greatly broadened.

Leader Mike Lovelady, Water Tight and family, SherylLamberton, and Lyla Neumann took Frank and me on a wonderful fieldtrip amid spectacular scenery. Club hospitality includedMike’s setting up the propane stove for lunching on hislobsters and Marsi DiGiovanni’s chanterelles.

Discussions of habitat and identification by Bill Bridges andothers gave us confidence in the North West. We later foundCantharellus cibarius in the lower elevations and Boletus edulisabove the shore line just as described. We bought an electricfrying pan for motel mushroom munching and even dried some onsewing thread for future feasting.

Please thank all Puget Sound members who changed our tripfrom drizzly dismal to delightfully delectable!

Mushroomer, Snohomish Co. Myco. Soc., Aug.–Sept.1994

Mushroom picking is a national pastime in Poland, and mushroomsare an important ingredient in many Polish dishes. In themountainous region of the south, mushrooms are often combined withlocally made cheeses, as in the following recipe. The Poles woulduse fresh Boletus edulis and a salty sheep’s milkcheese known as bryndza, but large Agaricus bisporus andGreek feta cheese are an acceptable substitute outside ofPoland.

16 mushrooms, about 1 lb
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 C sheep cheese, finely crumbled
1 TBs fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp mild or medium-hot paprika, or to taste
1/2 C bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Carefully twist the stems off themushrooms, leaving the cap whole. Finely chop the mushroom stems.Heat half of the butter, add the mushroom stems, shallot, andgarlic, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Remove the pan fromthe heat and stir in the parsley, paprika, and bread crumbs. Addthe crumbled cheese and mix well. Lightly brush the outside of eachmushroom cap with the remaining butter. Stuff each mushroom capwith a heaping tablespoon of the filling, shaping the filling byhand into a small dome. Use all of the filling to stuff the 16mushroom caps. Arrange the mushrooms, filling side up, in a lightlyoiled baking dish. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot as a firstcourse or as an accompaniment to broiled steaks or chops. Yield: 4servings as an appetizer, 6 to 8 servings as an accompaniment. Heatscale: Mild.

MUSHROOM ASTROLOGY Bob Lehman, Los Angeles MycologicalSociety

Capricorn (Dec. 22–Jan. 19): You are plodding butthorough in your mushroom hunting. While Aries has gone off toexplore a distant grove of trees and Sagittarius is busy extollingthe virtues of mushroom hunting, you work your way throughwell-tested hunting grounds and find a respectable number ofmushrooms. Your organizing and planning abilities can be valuablein making a foray successful. You make careful identificationsbefore eating anything.

Happy New Year!
And good hunting in the upcoming season.

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