Entoloma abortivum and its work (Photo credit: Cornell Fungi)
Somebody entered “Aborted Entoloma Spring” into a search engine and came up with my little slice of paradise. Around these parts, though, you won’t see aborted entoloma, or Entoloma abortivum, in the spring. You’ll see lots of them in the fall, though.
The naming of this mushroom is confusing, because once these strange blog-like fungi were thought to be the result of Armillaria, or honey mushrooms, attacking Entoloma. Now it’s thought that in fact these are Armillaria that have been attacked by Entoloma. In other words, they are honey mushrooms that have a parasite, the Entoloma, that has caused the host to become disfigured and somewhat strange.The confusion is understandable because honey mushrooms are really nasty. In fact they are tree killers. They send a lacy growth known as shoe-string root-rot, up the tree, under the bark. They kill the tree and then live on the nutrients in the tree until the nutrients are all gone.
Aborted entoloma are always found in companionship with honey mushrooms. Sometimes you see honey mushrooms on a tree limb or stump and the aborted entoloma around the base.
Here’s what Mushroom-collecting.com says about their edibility:
These have a spotty reputation as an edible that I feel is undeserved. That said, they must be collected and cooked correctly. Look for fruits that are quite white, have few or no cracks in the top, and feel relatively dense (not spongy). Being a bit pithy on the inside is actually normal. Brown spots are a bad sign and waterlogged specimens are hard to cook. They are occasionally wormy so check closely for small white maggots. Once you get the idea of what the inside looks like you will not worry about these but you do not want to mistake them for early stage amanitas which can be deadly. Amanitas will have lines indicating a developing fruit and are much denser inside and smoother on the outside. Be very careful. Don’t take a chance!
I’ve collected these for the table and found them to be tasty. On the web, there are mixed reports about how good they are. They hold a lot of water and they will reduce by half when you cook them. The best way to cook these is pan-fried on their own, rather than mixed into something else like a stir-fry. This said, I don’t usually collect these because they’re really weird. They taste fine; they just look really strange and I’m not quite over that.