Here's a cool mushroom I stumbled across last week: a lion's mane or bear's head tooth mushroom (Hericium americanum), a choice edible according to the books. I did not sample it as Husband was away on business and therefore unavailable to drive me to the ER should I have any sort of dramatic allergic reaction.
However, I did take home this little hen of the woods.
It's not the prettiest specimen I've ever found, but it was delicious nonetheless. Also, it was a manageable size so I didn't have to spend forever cleaning it.
Some other mushrooms I found:
A little gem-studded puffball.
Black trumpets. I don't even know how I saw these among all the leaf litter, but there they were, growing out of the moss right underneath my feet on the trail. Most of them looked partially desiccated and were loaded with grit. They're now fully dehydrating as we speak. I'm thinking maybe when I soak them to use for soup or risotto, I can pour off the flavorful liquid, leaving all the sediment behind.
Here are some remnants of a lobster mushroom. Have you ever seen these? They're bright reddish-orange on the outside, creamy white on the inside, like a lobster (hence the name). What's actually happening is that a type of parasitic mold (Hypomyces lactifluorum) infects a russula or lactarius mushroom, which gives it that unique color and improves the flavor of the host. For more information on this mushroom and its edibility, read this.
And, finally, a lovely chicken mushroom. It reminds me of a flamenco dress, with its cascading, brightly colored ruffles. Despite this being a delicious and popular edible, I learned from last year's chicken mushroom that my heart races for 24 to 36 hours after eating it, so I really ought to stay away. Allergies to wild mushrooms are very common, so, when sampling something new, always start with just a little and wait 24 hours to see how you react.
Disclaimer: I am not a mushroom expert. I'm just a passionate amateur. Do not use me as your primary source. Do not eat a whole bunch of mushrooms just because they kinda look like one of my photos. And, if you do, do not forward me your hospital bills. Buy some mushroom books and join a local mushrooming club so you can get some hands-on experience with experts in your area. Then enjoy the woods!