There will be no real or even close answers here today. Just interesting pictures and a lot of questions.
This story begins over a week ago with a picture I took of this clump of mushrooms mostly because they are pretty. It almost looks like a flower. The entire cluster is maybe 3 inches across, and 2 inches high.
I did have enough sense to take a picture of the underside, which has gills. So that eliminates the polypores and boletes, but still leaves a whole lot of possibilities. I was not smart enough to brush aside the leaves at the base to see if the gills extend down into the ground or if there is a short stalk below them. I did not smell it. I did not break the skin to see if it changed color when bruised. I wouldn't have done it with this one, right beside the path, that was so nice to look at, anyway.
So... I didn't even begin to try to figure that out. But on my work hike Thursday, I found this mushroom. Each of those specimens is large, about 4 inches across and 5 high. Not too pretty with all the dirt on them.
But when I got a picture of the back side (you can hardly call it an underside), what a surprise! Long, long gills. I thought at first they went right into the ground, but then saw there is a short fat stalk.
Are they the same species? Maybe. Ones in the book that end up like the second one seem to begin with the edges rolled out like the first one. But only one candidate seems to get as large as the second one. And I didn't get enough info in either case: spore color, bruising color, odor, shape of the base of the stalk...
Looking through 4 mushroom guides... here are my best guesses, but I definitely have no certain idea.
Maybe- Giant Clitocybe, Clitocybe gigantea, edible
Maybe- Fleecy Milkcap,Lacterius vellereus, not recommended
Maybe- Short stalked White Russula, Russula brevipes, edible but acrid (huh, I thought all Russula were poison)
And... all of the ones I found seem to grow more in a fan shape than a typical capped mushroom, which suggests that all these guesses are wrong.
And that, my friends, is why this is a game for me, not a survival test. There are four species of wild mushroom I am certain enough of to actually eat, puffball, inky cap, chicken mushroom, and oyster mushroom. Not a one of them looks like these!
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