I got excited about Dave M’s posting about 6 lbs. of morels yesterday, so we changed plans and headed up to Green Ridge. We didn’t see many cars up there, so I was a little worried that Dave was pulling a fast one on me, but we eventually found some after several hours and stops. You can see that we didn’t get 6 lbs.!
What we did find were some perfect deer mushrooms, Pluteus cervinus. Yum! Note how very close together the gills are and how they start out slightly pink and get very pink as the pink spores of the mushroom mature. The gills are totally free from the stem and are very distinctively broad. What also makes them easy to identify is there habit of growing right out of wood and the stringy narrow stem. The one huge deer mushroom in the photo is the biggest I have ever seen! It measures 16 cm across! Typically deer mushrooms are like the smaller specimens. With some caution not to mix them up with a large pink-spored Entoloma (never truly free gills), deer mushrooms should be identified and eaten because they are a delicious edible tasting something like, well, a lot like peanuts. They have a pleasant chewy texture even after cooking and are great with eggs. We rarely find more than a couple at a time, so this was a treat today! I think the name is referencing the color the cap because the variations in color perfectly mimic the shiny coat of a deer. Look for Pluteus cervinus on dead wood on the ground or on buried wood. If the mushroom is not growing from wood, it is not Pluteus cervinus!