Hericium americanum

A new author today — please join me in welcoming Claire Fadul, who will be working as Botany Photo of the Day Assistant from now until April. Claire is a third-year science student. I’m very grateful to those of you who donated to the Online Education fund to help support hiring a student.

Claire writes:

Thank you to swampr0se@flickr from Toronto, Ontario for sharing today’s photograph via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. I chose this ethereal photograph for my first entry because of how beautiful this fungus is and how intriguing as well (a big nod to swampr0se for the composition). I was very excited when Daniel allowed me to do fungi for my starting articles as they are a secret weakness of mine—secret no more!

Hericium americanum is a tooth fungus. Its common name is bear’s head tooth mushroom due to the teeth-like or icicle-like protrusions from which it disperses its spores. swampr0se notes that her particular Hericium americanum was found on a dead maple. This is indeed common among this species as it is usually found on decaying hardwoods (though it can sometimes also be seen frequenting rotting conifers), defining the species as saprotrophic. For a definition of a saprobe, please take a look at MushroomExpert.com where additional facts can be read about this fungus species, including the fascinating story about its various naming problems throughout the years.

Of course you are asking, “Is it edible?” Why yes, it is! And for all you seafood fans out there, it tastes like lobster. I have no experience in this personally, but Tom Volk certainly does, and provides some recipe suggestions in the first paragraph of his article on Hericium americanum. Sadly, for all of our hungry readers around the world, this species can only be found in eastern North America from late summer through autumn. Luckily for local readers, there are a few other species in the genus such as Hericium abietis that can be found. You can check out Edible North American Mushrooms for some cooking suggestions.

Thank you to BPotD readers for your generosity and I look forward to writing to you in the future!

Daniel adds: Botany resource link: Frequent BPotD contributor Eric Hunt sent along a link a few days ago, pointing out a story on Wired Science that uses a photograph by former UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research director Dr. Quentin Cronk (photo featured on BPotD): Ancient Fossil Flower Is Father of Sunflower Family.

Hericium americanum

18 responses to “Hericium americanum”

  1. annie Morgan

    Hello, Claire, and welcome. Nice to know Daniel will be having some assistance now. This is such a lovely site.

  2. deborah

    Very beautiful and such a delicate and difficult photo to get right as well.

  3. wendy

    Welcome indeed Claire, I share your (public) secret. The photo is richly -evocative – moist forests, earthy smells and toast and mushrooms for breakfast!

  4. Dianne Saichek

    Good hire, Daniel!!

  5. Terri

    Very impressive debut, Claire. You will be a wonderful asset to the site and a great help to Daniel. And what a lovely picture to begin with; how fortunate for all of us that you have such a fondness and interest in fungi. Your article was also very well-written and an enjoyable read. Thank you!

  6. dr Denes Szieberth

    This early autumn in Hungary, thanks to the wet summer and september there was a big boom of various fungi.
    I have found similar Hericium as well (cca. 5 kg lived on a dead lumber of oak). We shasred it with other willagers and a dressing for meat was prepared from it and was found as delicious!

  7. nige

    Wonderful image, particularly the contrast, you fine-fungi-photographer.

  8. Sheila

    Welcome Claire.
    I am so pleased that Daniel has you to assist him.
    Interesting pic and write up. Thank you.

  9. swampr0se

    Claire, thank you. A debut for both of us.

  10. nina

    Welcome Claire, and thank you for the lovely trip to the land of fungi

  11. Joyce, in Toronto

    Welcome, Claire.

  12. elizabeth a airhart

    welcome claire you have lovely pom poms
    florida usa is my space on the planet

  13. Donald DeLano

    Another ‘Welcom Abord Claire’ and congrats to a great first swampr0se and to many, many more enjoyable eye candy treats.

  14. Wendy Cutler

    Wow, nicely written article, Claire. No break-in time required for you! Thanks for being here.

  15. Irma in Sweden

    Welcome Claire
    Hope you can keep up the good job that brings so much joy and knowledge to all of us

  16. Tom

    Welcome, Claire. Starting off with a bang! Glad to see a fungus featured.

  17. Terri Clark-Kveton

    My goodness “swamprOse”; in all the acclaim for Claire we completely forgot to welcome you and compliment you on your very fine photograph! Not just a lovely specimen but a beautifully done picture that is a delight. So welcome to you as well and thanks!

  18. swampr0se

    It has been such fun to have my photo highlighted like this. I love this site, learn things I don’t think I need to know but find useful in the strangest ways..and Daniel needs help, and Claire did such a bangup great job, it impressed me. No worries here. Big smile, actually.

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