AKA: Brick caps
Well we’re getting to the famine season fungally speaking, but if one looks carefully there is still food out there. A brisk late autumn walk could yield a brick cap bonanza. I don’t recommend this one for the newbie, but if your identification skills are up to par keep the brick caps in mind.
Look for brick red caps fruiting on deciduous stumps and/or logs. The caps are convex to flat with an in rolled margin. They have a partial cobwebby veil similar to Cortinarius species. The gills are attached and white to grayish purple in color. I have never seen brick caps growing singly, always in clusters.
There is a related species (capnoides) that is also edible. It has an orange cap and grows on conifer wood. Just be sure to avoid the poisonous N. fasciculare and be doubly sure you haven’t picked the deadly Gallerina. I’ve seen all of these growing in the past few days with the exception of N. capnoides.
The caps are usually small (1.5 inches or so, rarely more than 4 inches) so it takes several to make a meal. Younger specimens are much more flavorful than the older caps so pick only the buttons if you can.
Enjoy those brisk late autumn walks and later one of the best late fall edibles.
Field mycologist and long standing member of the Asheville Mushroom