I was first alerted to its presence by Facilities Tech, Daniel last Saturday, “Did you see that giant fungus growing on a tree next to the parking lot?”
I hadn’t, but made it a point to check it out, probably a large shelf mushroom.
During the course of the day, a very busy day here at the Museum, I’d forgotten all about the fungus. Until yesterday that is, when Richard Stickney of the Butterfly Conservatory showed me a picture he’d take of the mushroom with his smart phone.
This was no shelf mushroom!
Next stop, the woods alongside the north parking lot of the Museum. There it was, a very large, roundish fungus growing on the trunk of a maple. It was some 15 to 18 inches across!
Getting closer, I could see it had stringy, icicle-like structures hanging from the front and sides.
This is the lion’s mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus), apparently named for its perceived likeness to the mane of a lion. But it’s also been called pom-pom and monkey head. I can see the pom-pom name, but to my eye, the mushroom doesn’t look like a monkey’s head. Regardless of what you call it, it’s a big mushroom. And, it is an oddly shaped mushroom, to say the least.
I’ve read that they are very tasty too, being compared to seafood. In one article, the writer compares the taste to lobster. A tasty mushroom indeed!
Lion’s mane mushrooms not only taste good, but they’re good for you. Reportedly, they have nerve regenerating properties and may improve your memory.
I’m in no way suggesting you go out, slice off a piece of a lion’s mane mushroom, and start chomping on it. I do suggest that you appreciate the mushroom for its size and structure and read as much as you possibly can about it. Look at it, marvel at it, and if you feel confident enough to know what to do with it, cook it up. But make very sure you know what it is before putting it to your lips. That goes for any mushroom.