Honey Mushrooms I Have Known
Just shows to go ya: we found this nice patch of honeycaps and let them be. If these are growing here, there must be lots more up on the slopes above the meadow or down the valley along the creek in the same kind if habitat, we reasoned. Wrong. These were the only ones we found. A forester would think that a good thing, as Armillaria mellea's above-ground parts are evidence of fungal disease in trees that produce lumber.
This is classified as an edible, and it was the first wild mushroom I ever ate. I "stalked" this mushroom for the first time at Mountain Lake Biological Station back in the Pleistocene era. I was there for five weeks taking a summer ornithology class. One afternoon hanging out with this interesting fellow David whom I'd met (guy with a beard down to his belt) he got the wild notion to go find Ritchey Bell (who was teaching a class in pollination biology) and hunt mushrooms. Ritchey was curator of the Botanical Gardens at Chapel Hill, and a bona fide character far in excess of what one would have imagined for a world-renowned academic type.
The thing about honeycaps (or honey mushrooms) is that you find them in clusters and if they are at the right stage, you can lift 20 of them all attached at a common base, and put them in your sack. The heads, too, stay tightly closed at first, keeping out the thrips and springtails and isopods that love to get inbetween the gills of mushrooms you might want to eat. We went back to Ritchey's cabin and cooked up a mess to eat with saltines. As I recall, we washed it all down with some strong concoction Dr. Bell brewed up. Good memories.
And back home later that summer, I started seeing honeycaps everywhere I looked. They had probably been there all along, but once you have a pattern-recognition experience, it's amazing how your "vision" improves. Soon, as word spread that I was out foraging for edible mushrooms, students started asking about them. (Keep in mind as you envision my entourage that this was back in the late 70s and near the Edgar Cayce commune in Cedar Springs, from which not a few of my students came.)
Once that fall I was up on our shallow-pitched metal roof (in Wytheville) giving it a new coat of roofing tar when all of a sudden up the ladder climbed a half-dozen of my earth-child students wanting to go shroom-foraging. I remember wishing I had a picture of that unlikely scene. It has been stored since on the Kodachrome of memory.