Fascinated By Fungi Videos

Want to learn more about mushrooms? Check out this web series from Dr. Gordon Walker aka Fascinated By Fungi, where he explores the amazing spectrum of colors and shapes displayed by mushrooms. Truly fascinating fungal finds inspire fear and wonder, but Dr. Walker does his best to educate you on ecology, edibility, and the chemical compounds present in fungi. Follow Fascinated By Fungi on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok.


Uncovering massive “Mud Puppies” Cantharellus californicus in Napa County


Greetings from these filthy but beautiful #MudPuppies or #Cantharelluscalifornicus. These hefty golden giants are mycorrhizally associated with several species of oak in California, I found these specimens under Black Oak. They are the largest of chanterelle species as they display “indeterminate” growth, meaning the fruiting bodies can persists several weeks and continue growing. Chanterelles have an amazing ability to resist pests, molds, and more, they must have some seriously powerful polysaccharides and bioactive compounds. Regardless of their potential health benefits I just love finding them because they make an excellent edible mushroom. With specimens as dirty as these (even a good wash can’t fully expunge the muddy flavor) I like to make mushroom soup, but more primo specimens can be pan fried till golden brown and delicious (beware the mushrooms will sweat profusely she put into a hot pan). Chanterelles have excellent “meat-like” texture, the shredded mushroom has a consistency similar to shredded chicken and can be used in similar applications (tacos, nachos, salads, etc...). These massive oak chanterelles can be a pain to clean, but their impressive size makes them notable. They occur near oak November-April, happy to have finally found some of these beasts this season!


 Identifying Amanita novinupta in Napa California

The small burst of rain here in Napa served to beckon forth these attractive #BlushingBride or #Amanitanovitupa - the western counterpart to Amanita amerirubescens. The blusher group of Amanitas are known for flesh that stains red/pink sporadically or when injured. Traits to look for are the“skirt” or remains of the veil on the stem, warty remains of the universal veil on the cap (often reddish when not exposed to UV), and white spores. The novinupta grows in association with oaks and fruits in similar seasons to velosa, ocreata, and even phalloidies - thus it behooves you to know your Amanitas apart! Novinupta is considered to be a prime edible by some but does have toxic look-a likes and must be cooked thoroughly as it contains a hemolytic (kills red blood cells) protein that is heat liable.



Huge Cauliflower Mushroom (Sparassis radicata) found in the PNW


Absolutely amazed and humbled by this fantastic fungal find, a very happy #MycoMonday to everyone from this massive #Cauliflowermushroom or #Sparassisradicata. This brown rot fungi is weakly parasitic and will fruit year after year on the same tree. S. radicata is a distinct West Coast species that grows on conifers (pine and Doug Fir), unlike the East coast species that grow mainly on hardwoods. The fruiting bodies are large, firm, and long lived (turning brown as they age). Cauliflower mushrooms are a delicious edible, combining a pleasing crunchy texture with delicious mild mushroom flavor. This mushroom was on my bucket list and was part of the reason I came to visit the PNW, over the moon excited about this find.

 Finding Chicken of the Woods on Eucalyptus in the Napa Valley

It’s Chicken of the Woods time again here in Napa! These brilliant yellowy orange wings were spotted by the expert eyes of @vagabondingviticulturist growing off of eucalyptus. This species or #chickenofthewoods is #laetiporusgilbertsonii which is known for fruiting in late summer/early fall before the rains come. It’s started getting a little colder here in Napa/Sonoma at night and I think that had been a trigger for mushrooms to fruit. Gilbertsonii is not generally considered a choice edible species by mushroom connoisseurs (looking at you @nemophilist_tendencies) but I think it can make a fantastic edible if picked young/tender, cooked very thoroughly, and doused in tasty sauces or battered and deep fried. Looking forward to stockpiling more of these marshmallowy yellow shelves of deliciousness, especially since they freeze quite well. Challenging myself to make more videos, always appreciate any constructive feedback you have to offer! A note on edibility, Chicken of the Woods (on eucalyptus and conifers) can make people violently ill (not dangerously, just projectile-y), so always always cook your mushrooms thoroughly (even precook them before breading and frying to be safe). ALWAYS try only a small bite and wait at least half an hour to see if you feel any discomfort, most mushroom poisoning symptoms are dosage dependent. Once you can confidently eat CotW, remember it’s probably best to consume in reasonable portions (don’t eat pounds of it at a time).


Dr. Gordon Walker (@FascinatedByFungi) talks at the Cal Academy "Fungus" Among Us" NightLife

Dr. Gordon Walker (@FascinatedByFungi) talks at the Cal Academy "Fungus" Among Us" NightLife on January 9th, 2020. Dr. Gordon Walker runs the @FascinatedByFungi mushroom accounts on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and iNaturalist. He speaks in the Africa Hall at the California Academy of Sciences Museum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Gordon covers his background with mushrooms, the basics of fungal biology, applications in biotechnology and how we can achieve a better future through fungi.