Cat's tongue mushroom: Look for this tiny translucent treat on the forest floor

December 23, 2018, 1:15 p.m.

This translucent, otherworldly mushroom is Pseudohydnum gelatinosum, or just go with its easier-to-pronounce name: cat's tongue. The common name comes from the teeth on the underside of the cap, which make the cap look much like a delicate, white cat's tongue. That's also how it obtained another other common name, false hedgehog, because the teeth are similar to that of the unrelated hedgehog mushroom.

It's a fairly common mushroom found on every continent except Antarctica — even though it looks so well-suited for life on a white and cold continent! There are two distinct appearances for the species here on North America. The western version is this magical little glow-stick, while the eastern version has a darker, more brownish cap. No matter what part of the continent you're on, look for them growing from conifer logs. But keep a sharp eye out; you can tell by the moss and pine needles in this photo just how small they are.

These little guys have little flavor, but according to most sources are edible and can be a delicious when candied if you manage to find enough of them to make the recipe worth the effort. That sounds like a sweet treat, but I think it's even sweeter to just enjoy this spark of brilliant white in its place among the brown and green of the forest floor. But, if you're interested in turning this little jelly tooth into a snack, the blog Fox On An Island provides a recipe for candied cat's tongue (which sounds kind of awful when you don't know you're talking about a mushroom!). Another option for adding flavor is to marinate them.

Remember, triple and quadruple check your resources and make sure you are 100 percent certain on your mushroom species identification before eating any foraged mushroom. There are old mushroomers and bold mushroomers, but there are no old bold mushroomers.

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