Friday, May 15, 2009

Wrinkled Thimble Caps and False Morels

Toby and I decided to cruise a back trail the other evening, breaking up the usual routines around the neighborhood. It was a mild evening and the sun was still up, although sunset was not too far off. Usually once the blackflies start biting and the mosquitoes are abundant, we abandon the wooded routes and stick to the roads, where the insects are a bit less aggressive, but on this particular evening, the pull of the woods won out.

We slogged through a couple seeps, sighed at the scattered trash, and then I saw it: a brown, crinkly, brain-like mushroom cap. At first I merely glanced at it, but then I stopped and gave it a good look. Hmmm, thought I. Could it be a strangely shaped morel (Morchella sp), or could it be something else?

I'm not a mushroom harvester, so I don't claim to really know mushrooms well. But I do enjoy seeing them in all their great variety and, up to a point, I enjoy trying to figure out what they are.

So, this morning, upon remembering my mushroom find, I grabbed my Lone Pine Field Guide Mushrooms of Northeast North America and started to look for it. The picture of the False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta) shows a 'shroom that is the right shape (although shape can be so variable with mushrooms), but on the very next page is a Wrinkled Thimble Cap (Ptychoverpa bohemica) - don't you just love mushroom names - which is the right color (color can also be variable). Both can be found in woods in the spring, and both are widespread and common - no help there.

So, I still don't know for sure what it was, although I think I'm leaning more towards the Wrinkled Thimble Cap (if for no other reason than I really like the name).

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