It was during a Temple of Elemental Evil run when someone pulled mushrooms from a chest and randomly asked, “Where do they come up with these names?”
Well, from actual mushrooms, of course – duh! So, kick off your shoes, get comfortable, and prepare to learn a little bit of mycology – which will, in all likelihood, be completely and utterly useless (since you should never eat wild mushrooms unless you really, really know what you’re doing). Woot! #Learning!
Fly Agaric Mushroom Amanita muscaria
Found mostly in conifer and deciduous woodlands in the Northern Hemisphere, mostly Asia, Europe, and North America, although it has been spread to New Zealand, South Africa, and South America. In the Southern hemisphere, it is largely treated as a weed and “infestation,” due to its mostly unnatural place in the ecology. It is classified as a poisonous mushroom and may kill you if you consume enough of them, although deaths related to its consumption are mostly rare, and prompt medical treatment improves those odds to “extremely rare.” most of them. In some regions, it is boiled (to reduce the toxicity) and eaten as a psychoactive substance; of course, this activity is not recommended due to the fly agaric’s notorious unpredictability in concentration.
Should you decide to ingest this mushroom (which is pretty clearly the inspiration for the classic Mario power-up mushroom), you may expect nausea, drowsiness, low blood pressure, sweating, salivation, auditory and visual hallucinations, mood changes, euphoria, relaxation, ataxia (lack of organized motor control), loss of equilibrium, delirium, agitation, confusion, central nervous system depression, seizures, and coma, all starting within 30-90 minutes and peaking at the three-hour mark, followed by lasting several days. Doesn’t that sound delicious?? Of course, after eating one, the idea that a certain Italian plumber hallucinated dozens of trips into the Mushroom Kingdom starts making sense…
Fellow alchemists in Skyrim probably remember this one showing up under the name Fly Amanita.
Puffball Mushroom division Basidiomycota
The puffball is actually a nickname to an entire line of mushroom species housed within a single division. They all share one common trait, which is where the nickname came from – rather than having spores being dispersed from gills under the cap as most mushrooms do, the spores are produced internally, inside a spherical “puffball.” As the mushroom ages, the spherical cap dries, grows brittle, and splits open, releasing the spores in a visible “puff,” as shown in the image above.
Most of them are considered to be not poisonous (although that doesn’t necessarily mean edible); they often are visibly similar to a number of shrooms with such delightful names as Death Cap, Destroying Angel, or the deadly family of Amanita mushrooms (of which the Fly Agaric is a member). As with any mushroom in the wild, it’s probably safest to not eat it unless you have a trained mycologist with you – and this article doesn’t make you one.
Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus
After the earlier fungal death soup, we have one of the most widely eaten mushrooms around! Frequently torn up and used in stir fries or sautees, the oyster mushroom is consumed around the world, most often grown in tropical and temperate regions of North America and northern Eurasia. If you’re curious, here’s a recipe for an Easy Oyster Mushroom Stir Fry from The Omnivore’s Cookbook.
Earthstar Mushroom Astraeus hygrometricus (pictured)
Actually a group of less than a dozen recognized species, the earthstar mushroom family all shares one distinct trait.. and that is looking like a star. (Go figure. –Ed.) I picked this particular species to showcase mostly because it had the best pictures. Isn’t that a good reason? The species found in North America are generally considered inedible due to their extreme toughness, but the ones grown in Asia are frequently sold as delicious treats in Indian markets. It has also been used in ancient Chinese medicine for centuries to stop bleeding.
Rusty Gilled Mushroom Gloeophyllum sepiarium
This one is a little tricky to pin down to a specific species, mostly due to the fact that “rusty gilled” is more of a descriptor – an aspect of many species of mushrooms – rather than a name or nickname for most. The closest to a specific is the Rusty Gilled Polypore, which is a wood fungus that causes brown rot.
Yellow Parasol Mushroom Leucocoprinus birnbaumii
Frequently found in tropical and subtropical regions – or greenhouses – the yellow parasol, often called the yellow flowerpot mushroom, is (unsurprisingly) poisonous to eat. Plan on having quite a few stomach cramps and severe gastrointestinal distress if you should decide to munch on one of these tiny little guys! Other than that, there’s really not a whole lot of interesting tidbits about it.. which makes it seem kind of like they are in DDO. They grow in clusters, so you always have too many of them to use…… just lying around the flower pots on the guild airship.. oh, yay, more yellow parasols. Anyone need them? Anybody?
Red Cage Mushroom Clathrus ruber
A visually striking mushroom, this particular species grows in piles of decaying plant matter. Originally from Europe, it has been spread to the point where it can be found nearly anywhere, including Asia, Africa, Australia, and North and South America. The vibrant red color comes from lycopene and beta carotene, the same chemicals that provide the orange and red pigment to carrots and tomatoes. As one might imagine from its diet, the mushroom has a smell akin to that of rotting meat, which attracts flies that thereby serve to spread the species. its edibility and toxicity are largely undocumented in scientific form, although the stench would probably turn most folks away.. or so you would think. In the egg stage, they’re sold as delicacies in some European and Asian markets under the nickname “devil’s eggs.” After the egg stage, however – well, there’s one report from 1854 in Charleston, South Carolina, of a poisoning incident:
“A young person having eaten a bit of it, after six hours suffered from a painful tension of the lower stomach, and violent convulsions. He lost the use of his speech, and fell into a state of stupor, which lasted for forty-eight hours. After taking an emetic he threw up a fragment of the mushroom, with two worms, and mucus, tinged with blood. Milk, oil, and emollient fomentations, were then employed with success.”
Yeah, I’ll stick with known-to-be edible mushrooms, thanks.
Octopus Stinkhorn Mushroom Clathrus archeri
Something that seriously looks more like an alien life form from a sci-fi movie than a fungus found on Planet Earth, the octopus stinkhorn was indiginous to Australia and Tasmania before being introduced to Europe, North America, and Asia. Much like the red cage mushroom in the same genus, it has a fetid odor reminiscent of decaying flesh which attract flies to spread itself. While in the egg stage, it is edible, smelling and tasting of foul radishes and is recommended only for consumption during extreme wilderness survival circumstances.. and I can see why. I’m not sure I could bring myself to eat something that looked like a facehugger bred with a carrion crawler and stank of rotting corpses.
Bet you didn’t know all of those came from real mushrooms, eh? As with any brief voyage into the magical world of mushrooms, there’s one shocking and immediately apparent truth: let the professionals handle thems. Don’t go picking fungi and eating them wild. You might not make it back.
But, we’re not eating the ones in DDO – no, we’re turning them into weapons! Wait, of course! They’re all related to Crafting Broccoli! Now it all makes sense. ^_^