13 species in the US. More work needs to be done to figure out which ones we really have in the northeast. Unlike morels, gyromitras are not completely hollow. They are often more substantial, convoluted and exhibit a cottony mycelial interior. They have reddish brown, yellow, brown or brown lobed caps.
Both morels and gyromitras come out at the same time of year (early spring in the northeast). Our gyromitras are carcinogenic in mice and contain gyromitrin, which is metabolized in the body to monomethylhydrazine – rocket fuel! It destroys red blood cells. Parboiling at least twice and discarding the water is supposed to help remove the toxin, which smells like chocolate. Just breathing in the fumes while cooking the mushroom can cause near-death in some people. And since the volatile chemical isn’t completely removed, it is still possible to be poisoned. The gyromitras in Northern Europe and on the west coast may or may not be more edible than ours on the east coast, although there are recent reports of fatalities in Europe.
ìIt is also possible that the effects of gyromitrin are cumulative over time. Don’t eat them.Click on the photos representing the Discinaceae family to see enlarged images.