These interesting little sponge mushrooms just popped out of the ground in the last few days. They were found in a sheltered, low light area under a well established stand of giant Japanese bamboo.
While looking very much like an edible species of mushroom, as non-experts of toxic fungi we’re not about to rush these little guys off to the chef thinking we have just bagged a free delicacy.
Similar looking sponge mushrooms, or either morel or false morel as they are also known, are the fruiting bodies of either the Morchella or Verpa fungus Genus. Each Genus contains species which look relatively similar, but offer very different experiences if consumed!
Morchella, although not without its toxins and allergy risks, can offer a delicious dish if cooked correctly. Verpa however, are all toxic False Morels. If mistaken for identity, when consumed they offer anything from mild stomach upset and organ failure (usually liver and kidney), to a slow, quite permanent death.
All culinary considerations and risks of identifying natural mushrooms aside, we haven’t seen sponge mushrooms of any species growing in our garden in the past. We have made a keen effort to stop using sprays in the last few years, so we are flattered that this little fungus has decided to come and call our garden home.