Entoloma salmoneum, an attractive fungus

Entoloma salmoneum (Peck) Saccardo 

Entoloma salmoneum can be found growing alone or scattered in leaf litter under hardwoods, or in moss under conifers; frequently on rotting, moss-covered conifer logs.

When thumbing through Mushrooms of the Midwest, you see Entoloma salmoneum among the 500 featured shrooms and think, “That is an attractive fungus.” Also known as the unicorn mushroom, E. salmoneum‘s appearance suggests the fantastical. Colored a vivid salmon orange and in its early growth shaped like a gnome’s hat, E. salmoneum appears in the summer and fall. The cap is sticky at first. That aspect of the texture fades with age, as does the color.

Though the effects of many Entolomas remain unknown, experts caution against eating E. salmoneum. Its relative E. rhodopolium, the wood pinkgill, contains muscarine, a toxin known to cause gastrointestinal distress. In general, the Entolomas require more research into their status as foodstuffs.

The German priest-mycologist Paul Kummer did pioneering work with the Entolomas and other mushrooms. His 1871 book Der Führer in die Pilzkunde established Entolomasamong othersas a separate genus, and the abbreviation P. Kumm remains prevalent in the mycological literature. Kummer later published a mushroom hunting guide and, having looked down for years already, wrote another for lichen enthusiasts.

Photo: Noah Siegel