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Short Squat Mushrooms

I’m always interested in the variety of search terms people use that land them here on this blog. Today somebody got here after searching Russula brevipes. Now this is an interesting mushroom to me, and it’s interesting because it has a special relationship with another fungus.

Russula brevipes is a short squat white member of the Russula group. It is reputed to be edible but not very palatable. However, the R. brevipes, along with a similar looking mushroom called Lactarius piperatus, is one of two possible hosts to a parasitic ascomysete or cup fungus known as Hypomyces lactifluorum. This cup fungus attacks the R. brevipes and does a few interesting things. It turns them scarlet red, it distorts their shape, it makes them very firm in texture – but most importantly it makes them into a very tasty edible mushroom that we simply call the lobster. In fact, in summer in the forests in which I forage, I likely find and collect more lobsters than any other mushroom. They’re great fresh and they dehydrate well too. When cooked, lobsters retain their firmness, which I would describe as a delicate crunch.


  1. By far the number one search term that lands people on my site is “fat cat.” I know why my site comes up – I mentioned the word game “fat cat” a couple of times. But I can’t figure out why people are searching for fat cats to begin with. It doesn’t seem likely that they are looking for the word game. Maybe people find fat cats cute? Here are some other search terms that get people to my site:

  2. Salvelinas Fontinalis

    Lobster mushrooms in southern Ontariario are what make mushroom hunting a good deal. If you can find a couple of decent lobster mushrooms spots they will produce for you from July (and sometimes earlier) until frost and even under the worst of conditions you can usually find enough lobsters for a few omelets. The nice thing about lobster mushrooms is that there is about zero chance of mistaking them for some other mushroom and they are quite tasty. It is a rare day when I cant come home with a 6 quart basket of these tasty treats. The peculiar thing is that many mushroom hunters have never found a lobster. They are colored somewhere between fire engine red and hot orange and once your eyes get tuned to looking for this color you just cant miss them. You just have to find a few to get your eyes trained to spotting the red. Mushrooms can be a real challenge to see (even the orange ones) until you get your eyes trained to see them.

    • I remember when I first started looking for mushrooms with you that you found lobsters and I didn’t. Then one day you showed me one growing, half covered in leaf litter and after that I found them all the time. I think you’re right about training your eyes to see them. The other thing is to learn to slow down and look around carefully, even right at your feet. I’ve found the lobsters start producing really well after the chanterelles are under way, and right through summer.

      In one forest, you know the one, there are a lot of people using the trails on foot and on bicycle, but nobody seems to pick the lobsters because I find most of them right beside the trail. That seems to be another quasi-law in mushroom hunting. Mushrooms are perfectly happy growing right near the trail you’re walking on.

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