An Edible Mushroom at Distant Hill
Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), are shown here growing on a dying sugar maple at Distant Hill Gardens. They are one of the easiest edible mushrooms to identify. Often found growing in large numbers, it usually doesn't take long to collect enough for a meal or two. In this case, I shared half of the find with a friend and still had enough to freeze for later.
Their name comes from the fact that they resemble oysters in looks, and some say in flavor. According to Wikipedia, the genus Pleurotus is one of the most commonly cultivated edible mushrooms in the world.
More Than Just a Tasty Mushroom
Oyster mushrooms are not just tasty, but they are good for you too. They contain chemicals that help to lower your cholesterol.
And Pleurotus fungi have been used in mycoremediation of some oil based pollutants. They help decompose the oils. The key to mycoremediation is determining the right fungal species to target a specific pollutant. Certain strains have actually been reported to successfully degrade various chemical weapons.
There any no poisonous look alikes in North America or Europe. However, the poisonous Omphalotus nidiformis, which grows in Japan and Australia, is sometimes mistaken for an oyster mushroom.