Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mushroom Hunting in the State U Campus

I was on my way home from College of Architecture. I passed by the lone Wrightia pubescens (laniti) tree beside the UP Police Station but got disappointed because it was still not in flower. I decided to see if the bitaogs (Calophyllum inophyllum) over at E delos Santos St. (road from archi to UP Fine Arts) were in bloom. But on my way there a man inspecting the exposed roots of trees got my attention. I got curious because he was not the first one I spotted doing the same thing. A few months back I remembered seeing 2 men in the same spot, checking out the trees. But this time I could not help myself to stop and ask the man what he was doing. He was Mang Rodel who lives in the housing areas at the periphery of the campus. What was he doing? He was looking for a rare delicacy...edible mushrooms.

Mang Rodel said that he and a few others have been collecting mushrooms in the campus for quite some time. I tried to look at his loot (when I saw him, he already had a bagful of mushrooms) and they look like the variety they sell in markets. I am not sure what mushroom species they were and if whether these were native (not even sure if it was a single species or several).

I asked Mang Rodel how the hell he spots them as I have been walking the same pathway for a few years now and I never even imagined that there were mushrooms growing under those trees. He said since he has been collecting for quite some time, he learned to spot areas where they would grow. Normally you could spot them under trees with soil accumulating on its base, trees with punso (solid mounds). The mounds are moist and damp, ideal for mushroom growth. In the rainy months of July to September, they become abundant.

Honestly, when I heard mushrooms, I got a little alarmed as not all are edible. And for a landscape major like me, it is quite unimaginable to distinguish fungi from one another (as far as I know, mushrooms are not plants but fungi - if I remember my biology right that fungi is a separate kingdom from plants). So identifying the edible from the poisonous mushrooms (really lethal I was told) is horrifying for me. I asked how Mang Rodel, a lay person, could distinguish them from the poisonous varieties. He gave me a simple explanation: the edible mushrooms have smooth stems as the poisonous mushrooms have rings on the stem, on where they meet the head. I'm not sure if this ID technique is really reliable (we should confirm this from biologists), but it works for Mang Rodel as he and his family have been enjoying and eating the mushrooms for years.

A few more trees inspected and Mang Rodel declared he has enough to bring home for dinner. He would be cooking them stir fried with some Capsicum (sili) chili. If he still has leftovers for the next morning he would be cooking them in tinola. As for me I headed home contented with the new found knowledge. I even forgot checking out the blooms of the bitaogs. What grew below them completely got me distracted.


Catherine said...

no truffles? :)

metscaper said...

hehehe. i do not now anything about mushrooms. don't know what truffles are.

orange said...

hi patrick, I would just like to ask if you happen to stumble upon a luminous mushroom. I'm trying to find some the UP forestry said they have some mycena species.I would really appreciate it if you can tell me where I can go, if ever you have stumbled upon such mushroom. thanks.

metscaper said...

Hello. I heard of luminous mushrooms before from a teacher but sorry i am not a mushroom expert. maybe you could get in touch with ed tadiosa of the national museum botany dept.

jarie tiosan said...


mark roldan said...

Is mang rodel still there? where can i find him?