Laetiporus sulphureus Poisoning: Request for examples

Nathan Wilson nathan at D2.COM
Thu Sep 28 18:26:02 EST 1995

Here's yet another perspective on eating Laetiporus.  This fungus is
extremely common in California.  Hosts I have seen it growing on include
Eucalyptus, Live Oak, California Black Oak, Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine.
I know of people who have eaten specimens collected from all of these
sources with no ill effect.  In all cases the mushroom was throughly
cooked.  I am personally aware of three cases of gastro-intestinal distress
due to this fungus.  One of the cases (my wife) was from a specimen growing
on Black Oak.  The mushroom was cooked and shared with myself.  I
experienced no problems.  The only symptom was mild nausea.

Another case was a member of the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz (FFSC) who
has eaten this species for many years.  They were curious to find out if
cold marinating it was sufficient to eliminate any negative effects.  It
was not.  They ate a small piece (approx. 10mm x 5mm x 1mm).  Within 30mins
they had thrown up several times and suffered other common symptoms that I
can't currently remember.  After this they were fine.  They have since
eaten the species (throughly cooked) and suffered no ill effects.  Finally,
another member of the FFSC recently suffered very similar effects to those
just described, from eating a specimen they considered to be completely
cooked.  Unfortunately I do not know the type of wood the mushroom was
growing on in either of the last two cases.

My personal belief is that there is a heat sensitive toxin that is present
in this species in varying amounts.  In addition, I suspect that it is one
of those species that individuals may sensitive to.  If you want to eat
this species I would recommend throughly cooking it (at least as much as
Morchella species) at a reasonably high heat (in particularly, don't just
throw it raw into a soup, saute it first).  Furthermore, if you have never
eaten it before, sample a small amount the first day to test for any
personal reaction.  Fortunately, it is a species that you often find a lot
of and it lasts resonably well in the fridge.  As for the theory that
specimens growing on exotics should be avoided, I haven't seen any clear
evidence of it.  I would however treat specimens collected from a
substrated I had never tried before with the same caution as the first time
I tried the species.
   -------------------------    _________
         Nathan Wilson         <_________>
         nathan at            _|_|_       It is no dream!
                                  \___/    Matsutake are growing
       Minister Emeritus           | |        On the belly of the mountain.
Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz    \_/ *83--                -Shigetaka

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