What You Should Know
Gyromitra fastigiata is a species of fungus in the family Discinaceae. It is related to species containing the toxin monomethylhydrazine, so its consumption is not advised.
It is an edible mushroom, but eaten raw or not well cooked very poisonous. The species is predominantly inhabitant by calcareous soil.
Gyromitra fastigiata Mushroom Identification
5-12 (14) cm in diameter, it is fragile, initially resembling an irregularly shaped saddle that quickly takes the shape of a squishy cap, sometimes divided into two (sometimes three as in Gyromitra infula) lobes with a yellowish-white seam between them. It features wrinkled and twisted folds on the surface, somewhat reminiscent of a brain. The edge is adherent to the foot. It is whitish on the inside. and presents a network of hollows inside, becoming hollow with age. The outer part is sterile, and the lower part has a fertile coating. The color of the cuticle is a lighter or darker brown, rarely with olive shades.
5-8 cm long and 2-3 cm thick, it is smooth, cylindrical, often blunt, irregularly shaped, crossed by longitudinal ribs, thickened at the base, and partially concretized with the cap, being also hollow in old age inside. The color tends between white and yellowish-white, often whitish.
Whitish, slightly waxy and fragile with a pleasant taste and smell, very aromatic of mushrooms. This mushroom can dehydrate in the dry season and thus last for a long time. Then it gives the impression that it appeared in the summer and is toxic due to the breakdown of proteins.
Ellipsoidal to fusiform spores, ornamented with grooves, with 1-3 drops of yellowish oil, measuring 23-37 x 10-17 microns. Their powder is white. Paraphyses measure 5-10 microns, asci bear 8 spores.
Gyromitra fastigiata Look-Alikes
Gyromitra esculenta, where the difference is often only visible under a microscope (eg smooth or ornamented spore surface) and Gyromitra infula, or with Gyromitra ambigua, the edible Helvella fusca or Gyromitra gigas (giant wren).
Furthermore, the species can be confused with species of the genus Morchella or Verpa, for example with Morchella elata, Morchella esculenta, Morchella semilibera sin. Morchella gigas, Morchella tridentina, Morchella vulgaris, Mitrophora hybrida, (Ptycho) Verpa bohemica or even with Morchella conica).
Gyromitra fastigiata Taxonomy and Etymology
The first scientific mention of the fungus followed in 1834, when the well-known German scientist Julius Vincenz von Krombholz described it under the name Helvella fastigiata in volume 3 of his work Naturgetreue Abbildungen und Beschreibungen der essbaren, schädlichen und verdächtigen Schwämme from 1834 and transferred to the genus Gyromitra with the same epithet by his compatriot Heinrich Rehm (1828-1916), to be verified in his 1895 publication in volume 1 of Ludwig Rabenhorst's Dr. L. Rabenhorst's Kryptogamen-Flora von Deutschland, Oesterreich und der Schweiz.
Neither the attempt to rename Discina fastigiata at Index Fungorum 2015 (although sometimes used), nor the suggestions of other mycologists prevailed. The taxon Gyromitra fastigiata has remained valid until now (2019).
The epithet is derived from the Latin word (Latin fastigiatus, -a, -um=inclined, converging in a peak).
Gyromitra fastigiata Cooking Notes
These mushrooms have a strong mushroom flavor so enjoying them in large quantities is not recommended. When well-scalded they develop a wonderful flavor in creamy soups, as an addition to Boeuf Stroganoff, or sauteed with garlic and greens as served with steaks.
In any case respect:
Use only safely identified mushrooms.
Use only young and fresh mushrooms.
Find out about the harmlessness of this variety in the collection region.
Always scald mushrooms before frying or boiling them well.
If you boil them, pour out the first boiling water, because it contains toxins. Well fried they lose the poison.
Dried mushrooms over a longer time lose 99.5 percent of their toxic content.
Gyromitra fastigiata Toxin
Like all mushrooms of the genera Discinaceae and Helvellaceae in the raw stage very poisonous, but it is by no means as toxic as the similar Gyromitra esculenta, because it contains much less of the "gyromitrin" toxin. For some mycologists (eg Bruno Cetto or Heinrich Rehm) it is an edible and delicate species.
And this variety has been valued for centuries as edible and very tasty. It has never been linked to serious or even fatal poisoning. The identity of toxic components of this magnitude was also unknown to researchers who, until 1968, when acetaldehyde N-methyl-N-formylhydrazine, better known as gyromitrin, was isolated, knew only of the very weakly poisonous acid toxin elvelic (1886). Toxicologist Peter D. Bryson proved gyromitrin and its derivative mono-methyl-hydrazine to be poisonous to humans.
The edibility of the mushroom has been discussed controversially lately, with the tendency to declare it toxic. But the gyromitrin content in Gyromitra fasitigiata is not so high. and there appear to be enormous regional differences in toxin levels. Mycologist Tom Volk agrees and declares them safe, but mentions the possible difference in their value of toxic content.
Gyromitra fastigiata Synonyms
Helvella fastigiata Krombh. (1834)
Physomitra infula var. fastigiata (Krombh.) Boud. (1907)
Maublancomyces fastigiatus (Krombh.) Herter (1951)
Maublancomyces fastigiata (Krombh.) Herter (1951)
Neogyromitra fastigiata (Krombh.) McKnight (1968)
Discina fastigiata (Krombh.) Mirko Svrček [cs] & J.Moravec (1972)
Photo 1 - Author: MK-fotky (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic)
Photo 2 - Author: MK-fotky (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic)