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Archive for Friday, October 28, 2005

Man finds 56-pound mushroom in Missouri

October 28, 2005

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— The mushroom Ty Whitmore found on a relative's farm near the northwest Missouri community of Maysville this week tipped the scales at 56 pounds - and that was only part of it.

Whitmore, 19, of Kansas City, was cutting firewood Monday when he saw the orange and yellow mushroom growing from the base of a maple tree. He cut it off with a saw and said the biggest half of it fell into a creek.

"I wanted to see if I had a world record," said Whitmore. "It was so heavy, and I was trying to carry it without damaging it, which was hard because I had to wade across creeks, and the brush in the woods was hitting it."

Whitmore got it to his pickup truck, half a mile away, and had it weighed at a Maysville grocery store. He did some checking on the Internet and determined the big fungus was a sulfur shelf mushroom. Its scientific name is Laetiporus sulphureus, and it's commonly referred to as the "chicken of the woods" for its good eating qualities.

"I hunt and fish, but this is the best thing I ever got, a real trophy," Whitmore said.

On the Internet, the Guinness World Records lists the largest edible fungi as a giant puffball weighing 48 pounds, 8 ounces.

James W. Kimbrough, an expert on molds, mildews and mushrooms at the University of Florida, said reference books list the biggest sulfur shelf mushroom as being about 20 inches wide.

While experts say it's doubtful anyone has a reliable record book for individual mushroom species, Kimbrough said the one Whitmore discovered has "got to be among the largest ever found in North America."

Harold Burdsall, a retired U.S. Forest Service fungus expert in Madison, Wis., says sulfur shelf mushrooms taste great, with a firm texture and plenty of flavor.

"If there are two wild mushrooms on the table, I'd always take that one, even over morels," he said.

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