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Monday, August 10, 2009

Fungus Adventures

I found some bright yellow mushrooms on our last camping trip and identified them as Suillus americanus, commonly known as the Chicken Fat Suillus. It's an interesting fungus - it ONLY grows under Eastern White pines, so while we were hiking we looked for pines, then looked underneath them. I collected about two pounds.

One of the identifying features of this mushroom is that it is slimy, and the slime stains fingers. What the books don't tell you is that the STAIN TURNS DARK BROWN AND LASTS FOR DAYS AND DAYS. My fingertips are STILL brown. Ewww. Worse than getting mahogany wood stain on my hands.

Yeah, they're edible. Not great, and they didn't agree with Marty. But that red stain got me thinking. Could I dye wool with these mushrooms? I cut one up and put it in boiling water with some white wool yarn. (Of COURSE I had yarn on a camping trip!) It turned the yarn pale yellow. That was enough to convince me to clean and dry the mushrooms when we got home. Now I'm waiting for my "How to Dye With Mushrooms" book to arrive.

In the meantime I've tried a few other mushrooms and wool, plus vinegar and boiling. Got pale tan from Gyrondon merulioides, and bright golden yellow from Innonotus obliquus! We've had a cool, damp summer up here - perfect for mushrooms.

Are we having fun yet? (YESSSSSS!)


  1. Hope that mushroom is in your dye book! I've got "Mushrooms For Color" by Rice, and Suillus is not in it. I will be interested to see what else you can do with it ... and if your hands turn THAT color, how come the yarn is only pale yellow?!? Inquiring minds want to know!

  2. NO KIDDING! What was especially ugly was that they turned DARK DARK BROWN after they were red for half a day, and I mean DARK. My fingernails are still stained. Looks like I work in a print shop!