|Aborted form||Non-aborted form|
Common name: Aborted entoloma, Shrimp of the Woods, Hunter’s Heart, Ground Prune.
Description and identifying characteristics: Entoloma abortivum, in the unaborted form (top right), is a grayish mushroom found on or near decaying wood in Michigan. The cap is at first convex with an in-rolled margin, later becoming flat. The gills are grayish at first, but become pink as the spores mature. The gills are usually somewhat decurrent (i.e. running down the stem). The unaborted form of this mushroom (top right) is not allowed to be gathered and sold in Michigan. Only the aborted form (top left) is allowed to be gathered.
Ecology/Associated Habitat: The aborted form of E. abortivum (top left) is an irregular glob of tissue 2-10 cm high; surface whitish, discoloring brownish. It has both white and pinkish areas inside. It often appears with a depressed cavity in the center of the mushroom.
E. abortivum is parasitic on species of Armillaria, and probably also saprotrophic on woody debris and leaf litter. It grows scattered or gregariously near decaying wood in hardwood forests, or in leaf litter near decaying wood. They are often encountered with Armillaria species fruiting in the vicinity in the late summer and fall. Originally it was believed thatArmillarias parasitize and deform the Entolomas. Now it is been proven that it is actually the Entoloma that is parasitizing the Armillaria, and that the deformed mushroom is actually a deformed honey mushroom rather than a deformed Entoloma.
Although the unaborted form of this particular species of Entoloma are considered edible, it is generally recommended to only harvest the aborted form for consumption because of the many other poisonous species of Entoloma that are similar-looking to the unaborted form. Only the aborted form may be gathered and sold in Michigan.
Poisonous look-alikes: There are no lookalikes to the aborted form of E. abortivum, and it is considered completely safe and choice. As stated above, there are many species of unaborted Entolomas that are toxic, so only the aborted form may be gathered and sold in Michigan.
Methods and Tips on harvesting: The aborted form of E. abortivum is actually quite common, especially in areas where honey mushrooms are known to grow. They are saprotrophic and usually found around rotting wood, wood chips, stumps, or under older diseased trees growing around the roots. They seem to favor very rotten wood, and are often found in lawns and parks and some woodland locations. They may be found in the same location year after year until the wood is consumed. They are most often in big bunches with the gilled version growing right with them or nearby. Expect to also see honey mushrooms as well.
Look for fruits that are quite white, have few or no cracks in the top, and feel relatively dense (not spongy). Being a bit pithy on the inside is actually normal. Brown spots are a bad sign—those specimens with brown spots, as well as those that are waterlogged, should be left behind. These mushrooms are occasionally wormy, so check closely for small white maggots. Do not pick any mushrooms that have any rotting portions.
The fungus can be gently pulled, plucked, or pinched, being careful not to disturb the substrate or mycelium, and then the small stem base may be cut off with a sharp knife before putting in your collection basket or bag. The majority of the dirt & debris will be found around the base, so cutting this off is an important step, to ensure cleanliness and to keep the rest of your mushrooms from getting dirty as well.
Special considerations for storage. As with other mushrooms, storage is best in containers that allow some air to penetrate and let the fungus “breathe.” Paper or cloth sacks are a good option, while plastic or air-tight bags and containers are not.