August's special mushroom...
The Hedgehog - Hydnum (=Dentinum) repandum Linnaeus:Fries
The Hedgehog mushroom is an interesting edible fungus and a wonderful species for cooking. Hedgehogs have an excellent texture that makes it suitable for all mushroom dishes although its flavor is fairly subtle and easily overpowered. In my opinion, this is one mushroom that can stand for itself after cooking in a bit of butter, garlic and salt to an individuals’ taste. It does occur frequently with Chanterelles and blends well with them if given similar culinary treatments.
This picture shows the teeth of the Hedgehog quite well!
Hedgehogs grow in significant quantity in many of the same areas producing Chanterelles. It is one of the few ‘toothed fungi’ that is tender enough for consumption. While there are many toothed fungi, most of them are related more closely to the polypores and are not suitable for consumption due to their texture. Hydnum (=Dentinum) repandum is a fleshy fungus that is more closely related to the gilled mushrooms (i.e. agarics). It is clear from the older generic name Dentinum, that teeth are somehow associated with this fungus. In fact, the teeth on the underside of the cap, terrestrial habit, fleshy texture and peach to almost white color make this fungus nearly impossible to misidentify. The ease of identification and sometimes prolific fruiting should make it a target for anyone in the woods in July through early September.
There are only a few possible lookalikes commonly occurring in Michigan. Several toothed species, in Phellodon or Sarcodon, occur on the ground, but are far too tough and leathery to be edible. Another possibility is Pseudohydnum gelatinosum, a superficially similar fungus because of the teeth on the underside, but it is much less common and easily separated by its jelly-like flesh and growth on woody debris. The most likely mix-up would be with a chanterelle, at least until one observes the toothed underside of the cap. Hedgehogs and chanterelles frequently occur together and look similar when seen from the top. Both are edible and good, so you can’t go wrong picking either one.
The hedgehog cap is at first convex (dome-shaped), then flat, sometimes becoming depressed in the center with age, 3-10 cm wide (1 1/8-4 inches). The margin is continuous or lobed, frequently with wave-like undulations around the outer rim. Cap surface is smooth, yellow or orange when young. The color often fades with age to nearly white or pale buff. The inner flesh is white, without any staining reactions when cut. The stem is 0.5-2 cm wide(1/8-1 inches), 2-6 cm long(3/4-2 1/8 inches), smooth, frequently tapering near the base, similar in color to the cap. Stem is mostly central but often not exactly. The teeth on the underside of cap cover the lower surface with small white or buff spines (1-2 mm wide (0.04-0.08 inches), up to 5 mm long (0.2 inches)) that point downwards. Spines continue down for some length on the stem (decurrent) and are easily broken off. These mushrooms are usually found growing in small clusters or solitarily in mixed woods. Mycorrhizal with a variety of tree species, common found in mixed woods with Oak trees.
One of the most fascinating features of this fungus is its circumglobal distribution. I personally have collected and eaten it on three continents and have not detected any differences in flavor, texture or growth characteristics. I currently live in Thailand the Hedgehog is collected and consumed with great gusto. Due to its mycorrhizal nature, it is a welcome find for mushroom hunters here who scour the woods looking not only for a meal themselves, but also as a way to make extra income at the market. As with all ‘special spots’, collecting grounds are well-guarded secrets in Thailand just as they often are in the United States.