A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes yeasts and molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. The discipline of biology devoted to the study of fungi is known as mycology, which is often regarded as a branch of botany, even though genetic studies have shown that fungi are more closely related to animals than to plants.
Most fungi are found growing on soil, decaying matter, and as symbionts of plants, animals, and even other fungi. Most people are familiar with mushrooms, however they are only the fruiting body of the mycelium, which is usually hidden underground or spread throughout the host that it is growing on. Fungi can vary greatly based on size, shape and how or where it grows. Their color range can be a bright spectrum of colors, including reds, yellows, greens, purples, or they can, quite commonly, be a plain brown or white.
There is a great diversity of fungi in Connecticut, including edible species such as the prized morels, chantarelles, and black trumpets, as well as many poisonous species, including the deadly Destroying Angel and the Death Cap, which are responsible for multiple fatalities. In Connecticut, mushrooms of various kinds can be found nearly year-round, however they are generally most abundant in the summer months.
Common Name: Eastern American blusher
Although edible, it can be confused with deadly poisonous species, and should definitely be avoided by novice mushroomers.
Common Name: Tawny grisette
Though this particular species is considered edible, it must be identified with care as other members of the genus Amanita are poisonous and some are deadly. For this reason, collection for consumption of A. fulva can be dangerous and is not recommended. Some authors indicate the fungus is potentially toxic when raw, and i... [READ MORE]
Common Name: Honey mushroom
The mushrooms are edible but some people may be intolerant to them.
Common Name: Ringless honey mushroom
Considered edible when fully cooked. The honey mushroom, Armillaria mellea, is more commonly eaten and recommended instead.
Common Name: Crown-tipped coral fungus
These fungi are considered edible when cooked, although some people may experience gastrointestinal upset, especially after eating a large quantity. The raw fruiting bodies have a peppery taste which usually disappears when cooked.
Common Name: Two-colored bolete
The two-colored bolete is an edible mushroom, although some may have an allergic reaction after ingestion that results in stomach upset.
Common Name: Berkeley's polypore
Although Bondarzewia berkeleyi is edible, it has been compared to eating shoe leather. The tough white flesh can be up to 3 cm thick and has a mild taste, which can be bitter in older specimens. The outer edges that cut easily with a knife are quite tender.
Common Name: Purple-spored puffball
Edible when young and the flesh is still white.
Common Name: Giant puffball
The large white mushrooms are edible when young. To distinguish giant puffballs from other species, they must be cut open; edible puffballs will have a solid white interior. Some similar mushrooms have the white interior (or yellowish) but also have the silhouette of a cap-type mushroom on the interior when cut open. These... [READ MORE]
Common Name: Red chanterelle
Like other chanterelles, it is edible, odor is sweet and fragrant; taste not distinctive, or slightly peppery.
Common Name: Smooth chanterelle
Like all species in the genus Cantharellus, C. lateritius is edible, and considered choice by some. The odor resembles apricots, and the taste is mild. Similar to the widely available common chanterelle, C. cibarus, which can be found in supermarkets and gourmet food stores both dried and fresh.
Common Name: Small chanterelle
Although insubstantial, they are edible.
Common Name: Dryad's saddle
Edible. Young specimens are preferred, as they can become infested with maggots and become firm and inedible as they mature.
Common Name: Sweetbread mushroom
Reported to be edible however there is a great enough risk that it could be misidentified since it looks somewhat similar to deadly Amanitas when young. Should be avoided.
Common Name: Mica cap
The fruit bodies are edible before the gills blacken and dissolve, and cooking will stop the autodigestion process. Must be cooked very quickly after picking or else it will turn into black ink. It is considered good for cooking with omlettes and making into sauces. The fungus appeals to fruit flies, who frequently use th... [READ MORE]
Common Name: Viscid violet cort
Considered edible by some sources, though not remarkable. Due to the risk of misidentification with other very poisonous corts, it should be avoided.
Common Name: Violet webcap
Cortinarius violaceus mushrooms are considered edible, but they are not choice. The taste after cooking is reportedly bitter. Its similarity to some other (inedible or toxic) webcaps renders it risky to eat.
Common Name: Black trumpet
A choice edible mushroom. While misidentification is possible, there really aren't any deadly look-alikes. Seasonally, it can be occasionally found fresh in gourmet stores. In dried form, it can be found at many natural food stores and supermarkets in Connecticut. Sources: Balducci's, Whole Foods Market, The Fre... [READ MORE]
Common Name: Flame-colored chanterelle
Edible. Reportedly similar to the commonly eaten Cantharellus cibarius.
Common Name: Aborted entoloma
Reported to be edible. You have to make sure you find the unaborted, gilled form along with it in order to identify it properly.
Common Name: Frost's bolete
Although the mushrooms are considered edible, they are generally not recommended for consumption because of the risk of confusion with other poisonous red-pored, blue-bruising boletes. Reported to 'affect some people negatively.' Not recommended.
Common Name: Hen-of-the-woods
It is a commonly cultivated edible mushroom in Japan and can be often found in Connecticut supermarkets. It is edible and considered choice. Wild specimens should be checked carefully for insects as they are common throughout.
Common Name: Chestnut bolete
Reported to be edible, and in some cases, highly regarded with pleasantly nutty taste when young, however there are conflicting reports about it being suspect, and caution is recommended.
Common Name: Bear's head tooth fungus
Edible. Young specimens are preferable. It is a popular mushroom for foragers.
Common Name: Coral tooth fungus
It is edible and regarded as choice by some.
Common Name: Scarlet waxcap
Edible, but of little interest.
Common Name: Vermilion waxcap
Reported to be edible but unremarkable. It can be easily confused with the edible red chanterelle (Cantharellus cinnabarinus).
Common Name: Voluminous-latex milky
It is reported as an edible mushroom that is sold in markets in Asia.
Common Name: White-pored chicken-of-the-woods
Like Laetiporus sulphureus, it is also edible in the same manner. Its flesh has a strong resemblance to the flavor and texture of chicken. Must be cooked first and picked when young, tender, and fresh. Some people have had gastrointestinal upset after eating this mushroom. This is, however, generally considered one of th... [READ MORE]
Common Name: Chicken-of-the-woods
The chicken-of-the-woods is a fantastic wild edible mushroom when cooked. Texture is stringy and makes a good substitute for chicken meat. The mushroom should not be eaten raw. It is reported that some people are allergic to this mushroom so only a small amount should be tasted the first time consuming.
Common Name: Pearl-studded puffball
Considered to be a good edible mushroom when young, when the gleba is still homogeneous and white. The fruit bodies can be eaten by slicing and frying in batter or egg and breadcrumbs, or used in soups. The puffballs become inedible as they mature: the gleba becomes yellow-tinged then finally develops into a mass of powde... [READ MORE]
Common Name: Lycoperdon pulcherrimum
Like other Lycoperdon puffballs, it is edible when young and the flesh inside is still white.
Common Name: Pear-shaped puffball
It is considered a choice edible when still immature and the inner flesh is white. Slice thin and fry in butter. Do not dehydrate puffball mushrooms, freeze instead if necessary. Do not eat if the inside is not white. Avoid confusion with Scleroderma citrinum which is poisonous.
Common Name: Black-staining polypore
There are varying reports in edibility. Some field guilds list it as a good edible. Others say it's generally considered inedible, due to its very coarse flesh and mildly acidic taste.
Common Name: Chestnut mushroom
A newly cultivated mushroom that is starting to find its way onto the shelves of markets in Connecticut. It is edible, reported to have a fairly strong, chestnut-like flavor, that best pairs well with red meats.
Common Name: Veiled oyster
This mushroom is edible, though it is tough when older and inferior to the better-known Pleurotus ostreatus.
Common Name: Oyster mushroom
It was first cultivated in Germany as a subsistence measure during World War I and is now grown commercially around the world for food. It is commonly found in supermarkets. Kits are available online and in specialty stores to grow your own at home.
Common Name: Pluteus petasatus
Sources report the mushroom as edible but not particular desirable.
Common Name: Hexagonal-pored polypore
Opinions are divided on the edibility of this species. One source describes it as inedible, while others say it is edible, but tough. National Audubon Society field guild simply says 'edible'.
Common Name: Green-cracking russula
Edible and considered to be one of the best of the genus Russula. Its smell is not distinctive, but its taste has been described as mild, or nutty.
Common Name: Shingled hedgehog
The fungus can be bitter, although this is less apparent in younger specimens. Submerging the mushrooms in boiling water will remove this. It can be pickled or dried and used as flavoring. In Bulgaria it is collected, dried and finely ground to be used as an aromatic mushroom flour. It is reported as edible but of poor qual... [READ MORE]
Common Name: Split gill fungus
Although European and US guidebooks list it as inedible, this is apparently due to differing standards of taste rather than known toxicity, being regarded with little culinary interest due to its tough texture. S. commune is, in fact, edible and widely consumed in Mexico and elsewhere in the tropics.
Common Name: Old man of the woods
Young specimens are reported to be edible.
Common Name: Wine cap stropharia
Unlike many other members of the genus Stropharia, it is widely regarded as a choice edible and cultivated for food. Described as very tasty by some authors, king stropharia is easily cultivated on a medium similar to that on which it grows naturally.
Common Name: Painted slipperycap
The mushroom is reported to be edible, although opinions about its quality vary. Its taste is not distinctive, although the odor has been described as 'slightly fruity'. It turns a blackish color when cooked. Some sources have warned of a slightly acidic taste and disagreeable flavor.
Common Name: Yellow witches' butter
Reported to be edible but without flavor.
Common Name: Brown witch's butter
The species is said to be edible, but is not much valued.
Common Name: Witches' butter
Although considered bland and flavorless, the fungus is edible.
Common Name: Xerocomus illudens
Reported to be edible but little information is available and since there is a high probability for misidentification, it should be avoided