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Our favorite way of eating them is fried in butter with scrambled eggs. They also make a great soup.
Unlike more common mushrooms, boletes do not have "gills" under the cap. The spores are produced in tightly packed tubes that look sort of like a sponge from the bottom.
An interesting characteristic of this bolete is that shortly after cutting or breaking, the flesh turns blue.
It is more commonly known as the Elm Oyster and it's former Latin name was Pleurotus ulmarius, implying an affinity for elm trees. However, I have never seen one on an elm tree and they are very commonly found on Box Elders so I have taken the liberty of calling it the Box Elder Mushroom. This also avoids the confusion with the oyster mushroom which is another excellent edible.
When first appearing, they are just little pea-sized balls which grow to 5-10 inches in about a week. The ones in the picture are from 2 to 3 inches in diameter. They taste very much like the commercial button mushroom but a bit milder. The flavor does not seem to be affected by the size but the larger they get the more likely it is that they will contain bugs so we pick them as soon as we see them.
Although very tasty, some folks have a bad reaction to puffballs and I happen to be one of them. I get stomach cramps every time I try them so I quit eating them long ago.
So when we called our friend and mushroom lover Carolyn Collins
to come and get them, she sent us this picture.
Not sure what to call this year but it certainly is the year of the draught and I attribute the lack of rain to the most unusual shapes of the few puffballs we did find.
This one looks just like a white rose.
The one on the top right looks like a conch shell found on a sandy beach.
After browsing our library of fungus books, my wife found a drawing that looked exactly like our "stone" in the stinkhorn section of one of the books. A stink horn is a tall fungus that bursts out of the ground and as the name implies, produces a very unplesant odor as it ripens. The genus of the fungus is Phallus which gives a good idea of what it looks like. The stink attracts flies that move on to spread the spores for future generations.
These two pictures were taken with a web cam a few minutes after collecting another sample. When first dug up, it was just a dirty white but started turing blue by the time I got the camera set up.
The cut open view clearly shows the embryo of the stinkhorn. I was always under the impression that these things developed very rapidly but after about 3 weeks, there still is no sign of any stinkhorns
I am not absolutely certain of the species so I am open to corrections.