Hedgehog mushrooms of NW Ontario
Scaly Hedgehog Mushrooms
A Hedgehog mushroom with a cap that looks scaly with colouration of a hawks wing – Mottled Brown/tan.
When: August into October
Where: Conifer stands.
Distinguishing features: White to tan teeth for gills, cap has ridged “scaled” usually with depressed center.
Cap: Elevated ridged “scales”, Beige to brown in appearance with depressed center. Older specimens may appear hollow at the depression point.
Flesh: White, tan to brown
Identifiable: Easily identifiable by cap coloration and underside with teeth. Sometimes the truly look like hedgehogs.
Preservation: Saute and freeze.
Wood Hedgehog (Sweet Tooth) Mushrooms
When: August to September
Where: Conifer stands
Distinguishing features: Underside of cap covered in small “teeth” the same colour as the cap.
Cap: Smooth, white to pale orange
Identifiable: Easily identifiable by the “teeth” for gills as well as the colour.
Preservation: Saute and freeze or pickle.
Gill Types: Note colour, staining and type of gills present.
True Gills: narrow platy fins radiating from the stalk out to the tips of the caps. Note the density colour and the bruising colour of the gills. Honey mushrooms are good local example.
Pores: No defined gills as above, instead a series of pores under the cap. This is a hallmark of Bolete mushrooms. Boletes are many and varied in their edibility and or toxicity.
False Gills: No true gills, instead may have ridges that appear as gills, however they are not easily breakable, thin or platy. Lobsters and Chantrelles are great examples of false gills.
Teeth/spines: Gills appear as narrow teeth or spines hanging from the cap. Scaly Hedgehog mushrooms are a local variety.
Tips and Tricks
Never eat a mushroom you are not 100% sure of its identification. Even when 100% sure, only ingest a small amount as some people have reactions to normally edible mushrooms. Always cook them first.
The underside of mushrooms are its gills. They are typically fragile blades, some have spines/”teeth”, some are more ridges, some are pores and others have no gills at all.
Spore print mushrooms – place the cap, gills down on a piece of white AND a piece of dark paper for an hour or two. This will tell you the colour of its spore print.
Stay away from young “button stage” mushrooms and older, bruised or damaged mushrooms.
Where does the mushroom grow? On wood? Mossy forest? Hardwood? Softwood?
How does the mushroom grow? Clusters? Alone? In spaced out groups?
What time of year is it? Most mushrooms have a season, finding a fall mushroom in the spring means its not likely what you were looking for.
Start out with easier mushrooms, join groups and go on identification walks. Always ask for help with identification.
Identification and resources
It is important to identify and be sure of edible plants, mushrooms and berries in the wild. There are numerous resources available however nothing is better than going with an expert and growing your knowledge over time.
Pictures and videos are very important and a simple google search (images) will return a wide range of a specific plant you are looking for. There are numerous Facebook groups as well, where the users are usually more than happy to help identify something. Simply upload a good quality picture (or 3 or 4 from different angles) and see what the collective consensus is.
Keep in mind that no one can identify by picture alone 100% of the time.