Trumpets of the Dead

Lest I lie there beneath a barren sea
Forgotten of high God, until there went
The final trumpet of the dead, who flee
Vainly that fearful blast of judgment. Woe is Me!

Aleister Crowley,
Songs of the Spirit, 1898.

I suppose the poetry would be more appropriate if the mushrooms in the photo were deadly poisonous, but they’re not. Not even close. In fact, in Missouri’s Wild Mushrooms by Maxine Stone, Craterellus cornucopioides is listed as Choice with 5/5 stars on the edibility scale. There aren’t even any poisonous look-alikes lurking in the shadows. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Also known as Black Trumpet, Black Chanterelle and Horn of Plenty, C. cornucopioides occurs in deciduous woods, especially rocky, mossy hillsides. I found the ‘shrooms in the photos along the margins of my yard, a side benefit of chasing a dog who has to go in the brush to poop. Up to five inches tall, they can be hard to see, because they blend very well with the leave litter.

But once you see one, look around. I haven’t found any isolated individuals, they’re all in groups scattered loosely over a fairly small area. I don’t like mushrooms myself, mainly because of the texture. But I figured any mushroom rated Choice deserved to be eaten, so I gathered a bowlful for a friend to try.

She and her husband prepared them as they do all mushrooms—meaning batter dipped and fried—and they weren’t exactly impressed. Everything I’ve read indicates that this particular mushroom is best in soups or perhaps served with scrambled eggs, so I don’t think they gave them a fair trial. However, since I won’t eat mushrooms at all, I should probably keep my pie hole shut.


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