Like much of the rest of the country, it was hot and dry here from mid-March until the remnants of Hurricane Isaac gave us some relief at the end of August.  Since then, we’ve had significant rainfall on three or four occasions.  We were 19 inches below normal at the height of the drought, so the rain we’ve gotten lately hasn’t paid our moisture debt completely.  But the ground is much wetter than before.  And that, combined with cooler weather, has triggered an explosion of mushrooms.

This is one of the more common ones, known as coral mushroom, buckhorns or hickory chickens.  I can see where the first two come from, but the third one is a bit of a puzzle.  They grow on dead wood, often buried, and a group of them could, I suppose, look like a flock of chickens scattered on the forest floor.  My Gran called them hickory chicks, but she never said where the name came from. 

There are a number of look-alike corals and I’m not sure which this is.  It might be Artomyces pyxidatus, but some of the Ramaria species look very similar.  Guess I’ll have to look at one more closely instead of trying to identify it from a photo.

Regardless of which species it might actually be, it is edible.  I won’t eat mushrooms, so I can’t tell you what it tastes like.  I can tell you that my Grandpa would happily eat large quantities of them.  Gran had a pan that was about eighteen inches across and seven or eight inches deep and we’d gather these mushrooms until it was full.  She’s wash them, then let them soak in saltwater overnight.  If I remember correctly, she dipped them in batter and deep-fried them, a technique that you really can’t go wrong with. 

Don’t eat too many of them though.  They can have a laxative effect and, well, that leads to consequences.

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