Lobster Mushroom - Hypomyces lactifluorum
What Is A Lobster Mushroom???
The Lobster Mushroom is one of the most cherished gourmet mushrooms you can find in the woods. Its not actually a mushroom, but a fungi that has parasitized(Russula brevipes, or Lactarius piperatus, both white mushrooms). It covers the entire mushroom in a gorgeous orange colour, covering the gills of the host mushroom, and contorts the fruiting body into all sorts of neat shapes, many of which, resemble real lobster crustaceans. Strangely enough, they also taste and smell similar to lobster! MMMMM
If you find young specimens, they will have thick, white, meaty flesh. As they age, the flesh turns brown. These brown fleshed specimens are no good to eat.
How To Identify The Lobster Mushroom
One of the easiest mushrooms to identify, mostly because its bright orange and doesn't have gills or pores. White flesh, stem present, but sometimes stubby. Found growing individually or gregariously in mixed hardwood, hemlock, and fir forests from late Summer, until mid Fall. Sometimes they will be fully exposed, other times they will only show as a lump under moss and needles.
The Intrepid Forager: Episode 3: The Lobster Mushroom
Is It Possible That H. lactifluorum Could Infect A Poisonous Species?
Above: Notice the red and purple coloured lobsters. Im certain that R.brevipes is not the only host for H.lactifluorum.