October 7, 2017

What's in a name?

The official name of a species is an internationally recognized origin certification: it determines the commercial value of a given mushroom. Thus, the Japanese greatly appreciate the matsutake (Tricholoma matsutake, pictures A, B, C). The species native land extends from Finland to Japan, where it is bought for up to 500$/kg when young. 

There are very similar tricholomas in the northeast, particularly in Quebec, and other look alikes on the west coast and in Mexico, but are they really matsutake? 

Researchers (Mycologia, May 2017) recently concluded that these are three different species (T. magnivelare, T. murrillianum, T. mesoamericanum, pictures F and G, H and I, and D and E, respectively), all different from the official matsutake. The local mushrooms begin to fruit late in August and can be harvested until mid-October. In terms of appearance and taste, the four species resemble each other. 

Three North American species compares with more than twenty native species of morels already recognized. Do not be surprized if other native "Matsutake" species are discovered soon. 

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