Gyromitra gigas

Gyromitra korfii0094

Gyromitra gigas (Krombh.) Cooke 1878

Also known as Gyromitra korfii, is common in the east during spring and can be seen at about the same time as morels are popping up. It tends to be somewhat ‘boxy-looking’, tan to light yellow-brown and has a ‘stuffed’, chambered whitish stem. It is in the Discinaceae family in the Pezizales Order. 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 regularly occuring reports of fatalities in Europe.