Sarcodon (Hydnum) fuscoindicum collected commercially?

Steve Pencall spencal at
Thu Feb 22 22:50:45 EST 1996

In article <4gh3tl$sr1 at> shaw at (shaw) writes:
> Several retail produce stores here in the SF Bay area that often carry
> wild mushroom have recently been carrying what I believe to be
> Sarcodon fuscoindicum.    They are being sold as "black hedgehogs".
> We've collected the same fungus this month in mixed tanoak/fir forests
> on the north coast of CA (e.g. Salt Point State Park).
> The stores are selling this mushroom as a choice edible.  I, and
> several other mycophages have tried small samples of it sauteed in
> butter, and we all agree that the taste can only be described as
> "nasty" -- sort of like chewing on a cigar -- not a taste one is
> normally looking for in a mushroom dish.  David Aurora's guide,
> _Mushrooms Demystified_, lists the edibility of S. fuscoindicum as
> "not recommended", and as leaving a peculiar burning sensation in the
> back of the throat.  From my experience, this is an apt description.
> I'm amazed on two counts:  (1) that commercial pickers are collecting
> and selling this specie to retailers, and, (2) that these retailers
> continue to sell it, and haven't been deluged by irate customers with
> burning throats.

There is a sucker born every minute.  However, this will become a  
self-limiting phenomenon.  In all probability, stores will stop carrying  
this species once they are beseiged by customers who want refunds for this  
"vile tasting stuff".  As soon as the commercial demand wanes, pickers  
will pass it by.  Probably the worst effect of this trade is that it will  
harm the perceptions of other more desirable wild mushrooms among naive  
consumers (which is probably most wild mushroom buyers) and also among  
naive produce buyers for stores.

> Has anyone else seen this mushroom sold commercially as an edible?  

Not me.

> Has anyone tried it that does *not* think it is essentially inedible?

Haven't tried S. fuscoindicum, but I did have the opportunity to try S.  
imbricatum in Arizona last summer.  I know several people in AZ who claim  
to like it and collect it avidly, but when I tried  S. imbricatum, I found  
it insipid with a bitter aftertaste.  Why they collect it at all is all  
the more amazing when you consider the wide variety of good edibles that  
abound in the AZ mountains in the summer--Boletus species, chanterelles  
and Amanita ceasarea to name but a few.

Steven Pencall
<spencal at>
Editor, The Spore Print
Journal of The Los Angeles Mycological Society

"Leave the beaten path and dive into the woods"
--Alexander Graham Bell

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