In September of 2019, particularly remember the first time I ran into a Hedgehog mushroom, (Hydnum repandum) or sweet tooth amongst some of it's names, in the area of the Tongass Rainforest. We had met up with a local mushroom super star to do some foraging in Juneau, AK. It was at the start of the trail that I came across this mushroom gather it and brought it back and asked what it was. This was the beginning of my understanding of how mushrooms coexist with it's environment to thrive and produce these beautiful mushrooms also known as fruits.
I was educated on it's spines or teeth underneath the cap, hence the name hedgehog, which would be the most common factor on identifying these fruits. As I started to hunt for these I started to notice that they would flush in clusters near the Spruce trees that had large bushes of Devil's Club near by. As we continued to forage we separated as the crew wanted to hunt for Porcinis and King Boletes, I headed in the forest in search of hedgehogs. I continued to test my theory that the best clusters were behind large gatherings of Devil's Club, which proved to be true. You can even smell them as you get closers to a cluster. The smell of these to me are an earthy sweet chalkiness with hints of wet moss, it's out of this world. When harvesting these you can feel the hold of the hyphae and mycelium network that cherishes these little treasures . This fungal fruit really stuck with me because I immediately understood and felt how it would cook. I knew that this would be delicious by just smelling it and feeling the firm fibrous flesh would hold well when cooking it with any type of technique. Later researching how mushrooms create relationships with it's environment to thrive it made sense that out of all the mushrooms we hunted these were the most intact and untarnished. The relationship with Devil's Club keeps larger animals away while drawing nutrients from the Spruce trees to produce heavy large flushes as clicked for me.
The most important aspect of this story is that I asked myself as we were driving back how come I can't order these? Would it be possible to grow these? Could I grow these? The questions and thoughts had started a ripple that would later inspire me to cultivate mushrooms. That winter however I dove deep into the world of Koji mycelium yet another mycelium that would bring together this business concept.
For your cosmic existence, Myceli Unlimiti.