Foragers are an interesting and very talented group of people. They learn to search the forests and land for food. It is important for foragers to know what is safe to consume. Mushrooms are a favorite for many foragers. It is important to be able to identify different types of mushrooms to avoid accidental poisonings.
One of the easiest mushrooms to identify is the Witch’s Hat (hygrocybe conica). Mushrooms are living organisms. They are not considered a part of the plant family, they have no chlorophyll. The parts of the mushrooms have formal names. While learning how to identify the mushroom, you can also learn the vernacular associated with identifying mushrooms.
Mycelium – This is part of the mushroom that is underground. It is how the mushroom get its food. In the right condition this portion of the mushroom can survive for hundreds of years.
Pileus – this the is cap of the mushroom.
Stipe – this is the stem of the mushroom
Lamellae – any of the spore bearing gills of a mushroom
Adnexed – pertaining to the attachment of the fertile tissue (the gills, tubes, spines, etc.) to the stipe of the fungus in which the fertile tissue typically curves upwards towards the pileus of the fungus before attaching to the stipe.
Spore – a small, usually single-celled reproductive body that is highly resistant to desiccation and heat and is capable of growing into a new organism, produced especially by certain bacteria, fungi, algae, and nonflowering plants.
The pileus of this very common mushroom is conical or bell-shaped. It is 2 to 9 cm broad. Like all wax cap mushrooms, the texture is slimy and waxy. The color of the pileus varies. They may be yellow, red, orange and yellow green. This fungi bruises very easily to a deep black. In fact, often the edges of the cap are fringed with a little black. The bright colors do make them easy to spot.
The stipe of the witch’s hat is 3-7 by .06.1 cm. It has a yellow scarlet flush. With age, there are black streaks that come along the stipe.
The gills of this mushroom are adnexed and pale yellow. The spores are smooth.
This mushroom is very common in North America and is most prominent in the fall. Although in some areas it can be found in the spring as well. They grow alone and in groups. They are most often found in forested areas.
Some information lists the mushroom as edible, but best avoided. Apparently the taste is not pleasing and there are some concerns about the safety of this mushroom.