The October 2010 Mushroom of the Month was...
Entoloma abortivum, the aborted Entoloma
The aborted Entoloma is a mushroom that has two separate descriptions. There is the non-aborted form which looks like any other mushroom with a normal cap and stem and there is the aborted form which looks like a whitish irregular ball with lumps. The normal form has a gray to gray-brown cap with a width of 1 ½ to 4 inches which is somewhat fibrous. The attached sinuate gills are pale gray soon becoming pink as the spores develop. The white to gray stalk is 1 ¼ to 4 inches high and has a diameter of ¼ to ½ inch. The aborted form, when edible, is firm to spongy, often irregularly shaped and lumpy. Frequently the white flesh has pink to pinkish red marbling which you see after bisecting the mushroom. The aborted form was believed to be the result of a honey mushroom attacking an Entoloma but now the interaction is believed to be that the Entoloma attacks the Honey mushroom. The Entolomas often grow at the base of oak trees and oak stumps; the habitat of the honey mushrooms that the Entoloma is attacking.
The aborted form has no real look-alikes especially if the
interior pink to reddish marbling is observed. The non-aborted form
looks like many other species of Entolomas many of which are known
to be poisonous or are suspect (causing severe and prolonged nausea,
vomiting and diarrhea). While both forms of the Entoloma are edible
we recommend only eating the non-aborted form when it is in close
proximity to (clustered with or immediately adjacent to) aborted
forms. To be completely safe only eat the aborted form as that form
has no real look-alikes.
Though the aborted form looks like something you shouldn’t even consider eating, it is considered to be a choice edible by many experienced mushroom collectors. Personally I find firms specimens to be the best though the spongy ones have good flavor also. Avoid any mushy specimens. There is a distinction between spongy and mushy to be drawn here because the mushy ones are often beginning to spoil because of bacterial, slug and insect attacks. The taste is somewhat delicate so the mushroom lends itself to white wine and/or cream sauces. Just sautéed in butter or margarine it is a fine side dish. With the spongy forms, one must be careful to avoid soaking up too much fat. Although, honey mushrooms and non aborted Entoloma abortivums are edible, I find the amorphous white masses to be the best edible of the three and use it in many mushroom dishes.