In Mass, you'll find lots of the button mushrooms with the snow white caps and pink bottoms or Morels, also lots of puffballs, round and golf ball size to volley balls size. there is another one that grows on tree stumps but the old guy who used to pick them for me passed away and I don't have the guts to pick them myself.
After rescueing 3 VERY sick people to the hospital by helicopter that never recovered 100% , and watching a child die from mushroom poisoning, I would advise you NOT to eat or encourage anyone else to eat wild mushrooms unless you are a bona-fide expert in the field.
... once ingested, there is usually no antidote.
Very sick or Death... no other options! It only takes a piece as big as sunflower seed to kill a child, teach your children not to put thier hands near thier mouths after handling mushrooms.
Don't mess around!
- Basey (former Wilderness EMT/paramedic - credentials available for inspection!!)
Don't take the chance on any mushroom you're not absolutely sure of. Like
Basey said, the wrong decision might be your last one. Andi had some good advice as well. If you can find someone locally who actually knows what they're doing talk to them.
When it comes to mushroms there are multiple things to look for. Where it was growing, when it was growing, the stem, the base, the skirt, the gills (or no gills), spore prints, texture, internal traits (solid flesh, hollow stems, whether it changes color after being cut or broken, etc.), odor, etc. A good mushroom guide will address all of these issues to help in identification. If you aren't absolutely sure don't eat it. Mushrooms have little nutritional value so you aren't going to starve by not eating mushrooms. However, if you can correctly identify safe mushrooms they can add flavoring to an otherwise bland diet. I have about six kinds I can identify locally that we eat (morels, boletes - lots of varieties, shaggy mane, chicken-of-the-woods, puffballs, meadow mushrooms). I stick with them. Another thing about mushrooms is that they sometimes affect people in different ways so just because it's safe to eat it may not agree with you.
The one your friend mentioned is probably called "chicken-of-the-woods." It's common and tasty but takes more preparation than I like to mess with. A good article on that mushroom is at Dirttime » Chicken-of-the-Woods. Again, though, be absolutely sure of proper identification.
I have been picking mushrooms for years but learned from a friend and there are still some that I know are good and safe but I can't bring myself to pick them without a guide with me to make double sure.
We have been gathering and eating wild mushrooms for years now and one thing is for sure as far as I am concerned, we only gather and eat the ones that cannot possibly be anything else. There is an entire genre of mushrooms that mushroom collectors call Little Brown Mushrooms (LBMs) and even some mycologists cannot tell them apart without various chemicals and microscopes. LBMs ARE NOT TO BE CONSIDERED EDIBLE. It appears that this is a classic LBM and don't eat it. Join a mycological association in your area if you can find one, they have great speakers, guided mushroom hunts and are great fun. They usually do mushroom identification at the meetings as well.
Mushrooms are wonderful and nutritious food, fun to gather, store and use but the harsh fact is that fungi can contain some of the most deadly combinations of toxins and there is absolutely no antidote for them. "When in doubt, throw it out" is the mantra of the sensible and happy mushroom hunter.