Disclaimer: We are amateur mushroom hunters and are by no means experts on mushroom collection. Even if we were, the photographs and descriptions in this post are not sufficient to identify mushrooms you find yourself. Please don't eat any mushrooms that haven't been ID'd by an expert. It's super dangerous.
While on a bike ride in the backwoods of VT, Tristan spotted not one, but two varieties of choice mushroom, just hangin' out on the side of the road. The first is the easy-to-ID oyster mushroom. We have grown these from a kit in the past, and there are no poisonous look-a-likes (on this continent). We gathered probably about a pound of these puppies.
We would never have considered gathering the second find had we not just learned about them from our lovely friends in Ithaca. Lobster mushrooms are actually mushrooms that have been parasitized by a fungus. The fungus parasitizes a few different varieties of mushroom, all of which (to man's knowledge) are edible. The parasite causes the host mushroom to turn orange and red, and curls the cap upwards into a flute. This combination makes the mushroom resemble a cooked lobster claw. They even smell a little like seafood. These mushrooms are just gorgeous and are supposedly a real delicacy. We didn't harvest any today because we weren't 100% sure we had ID'd them properly. Better safe than sorry.
I did take some pictures, though, and we called our friends at the Dacha Project. After giving them a description and showing them our photos, we were told that nothing else resembles lobster mushrooms and that we had indeed found a jackpot. Hooray! We'll return tomorrow to see if any are still worth harvesting.
By the way, I promise to write a thorough post about the Dacha Project soon. These folks are simply amazing, building an off-grid community near Ithaca, NY and doing all sorts of amazing workshops and community building activities. They have a website about their endeavor with a beautifully written blog. Check it out! You will love it.