Hi everybody! Here's the fourth in this early season ID guide for South Australian edible mushrooms. This one is about that easy to find, easy to identify False Truffle.
I'll be breaking up the series of posts about Agaricus mushrooms with other, very different mushrooms otherwise all of the descriptions will blur into each other.
Presenting the False Truffle!
False Truffles (Rhizopogon species)
Phylum: Basidiomycota. Class: Basidiomycetes (Gasteromycetes). Order: Boletales. Family: Rhizopogonaceae
Just a note: You’ll see Rhizopogon rubescens in some texts. It’s the same as Rhizopogon roseolus that we list here.
When you’re out wandering in the Pine forest, you might see little balls scattered on the ground. A closer look might show you that a lot of them have popped up where animals have been digging. These are False Truffles, Rhizopogon species and have been introduced into the Pine forest to improve the health of the trees through their mycorrhizal associations with them. The we one that find here is the Yellow False Truffle (Rhizopogon luteus).
Like the other Puffballs that we find locally, they are edible and quite tasty when cooked. As with the other Puffballs too, get them young and firm before the flesh starts to brown. Definitely don’t try and eat a shriveled brown one – the spores will make you cough badly.
You will see them where animals have been scratching in the mulch of the Pine forest and along the edge of the treeline. The colour seems variable but I’ve noticed that the whiter ones are best. After extremely cold nights or several days of rain, they are a darker yellow/brown colour as they get waterlogged. They’re no good to eat like this as the inside is a dull gray.
The name ‘Rhizopogon’ literally means ‘beard-like roots’ and you’ll see in some specimens, especially if you dig some soil up with them, some beard-like mycelium still attached. This is pretty fragile though and many that you’ll find won’t have this still attached.
Identifying False Truffles - a summary:
If you’re under Pine trees and find some small white balls just sitting on, or slightly in, the leaf litter or soil, look for these details –
- Globular, 1 – 2.5 cm diameter body.
- Sometimes, fine, beard-like mycelium still attached
- Tough, rubbery skin that can be white and tinged with yellow or red.
- Firm white flesh inside immature specimens, becoming brown in mature specimens.
- Yellow or red tinge to the skin.
- Spore colour is a yellowish brown
You’ll find these along with the usual Pine forest suspects such as Slippery Jacks, Saffron Milk Caps, Weeping Boletes and Laccaria.
My next post will be on South Australian edible Puffballs. There is a caution to be taken with False truffles and other Puffballs though. Toxic Amanita mushrooms sometimes start off hatching from an egg shaped mass. Cut your specimen in half and make sure that there isn’t a mushroom shape inside. Clean your knife thoroughly after cutting. If there is or there is any doubt, don’t eat it!
I’ll see if I can get a picture soon. Until then, here’s one I found online at the site Mushroaming: