MycoBank Taxonomy: Fungi, Dikarya, Basidiomycota, Agaricomycotina, Agaricomycetes, Polyporales, Fomitopsidaceae, Ischnoderma
The process by which a mushroom earns the badge of "edibility" is mysterious and fascinating to me, a product of time and place and culture. Ischnoderma resinosum, or the velvet polypore, is one that is generally regarded as inedible, and not for bad reason – the mature sporocarps are tough tough. But there seems to be a growing recognition that the young polypores are indeed edible, and not half bad at that. I myself was surprised when I first learned about somebody eating these, a Russian mushroom hunter in Madison, Wisconsin. Not only did he eat the velvet polypore, but he claimed it was his very favorite mushroom of all. I first sampled Ischnoderma resinosum with my older sibling in Toronto. After explaining to them that this mushroom was safe to eat because a knowledgeable Russian said so, and enjoying the meal with no health repurcussions, they now send me pictures excited to have found the "Russian polypore" again – a good example of the randomness and obscurity of the birthing of some common names.
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