4 Facts About the Honey Mushroom You Should Know | ultimatemedicinalmushrooms.com

4 Facts About the Honey Mushroom You Should Know

The Honey Mushroom may sound like the perfect partner for your next sweet dessert. Imagine a delicious mushroom with all the sweetness and aroma of honey. However, this mushroom gets its name from its color more than from taste, thanks to its distinctly honey-colored cap. Given that it’s part of the Armillaria genus, it has several cousins it shares many features with. Text area which says "4 Facts About the Honey Mushroom You Should Know, ultimatemedicinalmushrooms.com" followed by a close up galerina marginata, a deadly poisonous mushroom.

The honey mushroom is one of those species that harbors facts not everyone knows and thus makes them one of the interesting varieties. Below, I have listed several of these, to help you understand what makes this fungus tick, as well as help you identify it when you’re out foraging for it.

Fact #1: Honey Mushrooms are Huge

A little-known fact about the honey mushroom may come as a complete shock because when people find out about this, their first instinct is to doubt. Honey mushroom is the largest living organism in the world. That’s right, the largest. Now try and wrap your brain around this fact for a moment.

There’s a patch of Honey Mushroom in Oregon, that covers an area of approximately (you ready for this?) 2400 acres. Two thousand and four hundred acres large. The mycelia of this patch is mainly underground and some estimates put the age of this organism at approximately 2,200 years old. That put its birthing back before Julius Caesar was born.

Fact #2: Honey Mushroom is Parasitic

Mushroom fall into one of four categories, saprotrophic, parasitic, mycorrhizal and endophytic. Some species of honey mushrooms fall into the saprotrophic category, making them extremely useful to the environment. They break down decaying matter, helping it return to the soil to replenish the nutrients.

But most of the honey mushroom varieties are parasitic, making them true enemies of a lot of living plant life. Honey mushrooms have been known to invade a tree, attacking it far beneath the bark and turning it into white rot, effectively killing the tree from the inside out.

Keen gardeners are not fans of honey mushrooms, because once these fungi invade your garden, they don’t take very long to cause complete and utter devastation. It’s one of the reasons why some people prefer to live their lives without ever crossing the path of these fungi.

However, once in the kitchen, it’s a different story entirely. To those food connoisseurs who love their unique flavor and texture, honey mushrooms are more than just another mushroom to throw in your pot. The most important part of any mushroom you choose to cook with, is knowing exactly what you have. Honey mushrooms, as with most fungi, have certain toxic lookalikes and that means you need to know what to look for.

Fact #3: Know what you have

As with any mushroom you want to consume, make sure you follow the right channels and properly identify it before eating. With many toxic species growing wildly, plus many resembling those that many foragers do hunt for, the stakes are high. The chances of accidentally picking up the wrong mushroom is more than likely if you don’t know what to look for.

When it comes to honey mushrooms, the caps should be convex to flat, anywhere between 1 and 4 inches across. Look for colors ranging from dark yellow to brownish. Think of the deep yellow hues of honey itself and you should see the resemblance.

The stem is usually long and thin, whitish in color, with a ring around its upper section. The ring is a remnant of the veil it has prior to maturing. There should be no evidence of a bulb at its base. One great feature to help you properly identify these, is to see if the gills attach directly to the stem itself. With some specimens, the gills even run partially down the stem.

Fact #4: When and where to find them

If you really want to sample the slightly-sweet flesh of a honey mushroom, be prepared to hunt for them the middle to late summer, all the way through to the end of Fall. They prefer moderate temperatures and tend to grow after the summer heat has died down. This means that it’s almost the perfect time to grab your basket, head outdoors and enjoy the Fall air as you forage through the forests for them.

Because they love to attach themselves to any sort of plants, look for them on trees and shrubs. They usually tend to grow in clusters, making them quite easy to spot from a distance. Just remember to make sure you check all of the identifiers to ensure you have a honey mushroom and not one of its lookalikes. It will make a delicious treat and may turn you into one of its many fans.