February 2011 Mushroom of the Month was...
The Genus Entoloma, including the groups Entoloma rhodopolium and Entoloma nidorosum
There are two families of mushrooms with pink spore prints: the Plutaceae and the Entolomataceae (also sometimes called the Rhodophyllaceae). The Plutaceae, which have free gills, are principally saprophytes found on decaying wood. The Entolomataceae, which have attached gills, are principally ground growing mushrooms that may all be mycorhizal (in a symbiotic relationship with the roots of trees). The Entolomas are quite difficult to identify requiring microscopic identification of spore features
With the exception of the species: Entoloma abortivum (Mushroom of the Month in October 2010 and pictured above - note the white masses toward the center of the photo) which is edible, all other species of Entolomas should be treated as suspect as most are known or suspected to cause gastrointestinal distress. Entoloma sinuatum (also called E. lividum) in the E. rhodopolium group is definitely poisonous causing gastrointestinal distress so severe that hospitalization for rehydration is sometimes necessary. E. abortivum can be distinguished from other Entolomas by the presence of the whitish aborted forms (amorphous lumps of mushroom flesh). We recommend only eating Entolomas that are aborted or are in close proximity to aborted forms.
The Entolomas are a group of large, fleshy ground growing mushrooms with pink spores and attached gills (ranging from broadly attached (adnate) to notched and narrowly attached (adnexed)). The E. rhodopolium group has caps 1½ to 5 inches wide ranging in color from gray to grayish brown (sometimes yellowish gray) with a mild to slightly mealy odor. The E. nidorosum group has similarly sized caps that tend to be more brownish than those of E. rhodopolium although they can be grayish to grayish yellow as they dry out. The odor of the E. nidorosum group is strongly bleach-like when fresh. The caps of both groups are convex to plane and are usually smooth. The stalks are centrally attached and are usually smooth. Entolomas have no veils so there are no volvas of rings in the stalks.