Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Edible mushrooms and other macroscopic fungi in an urban housing village

Edible mushrooms growing on termite hills in an urban subdivision.

Folklore says that edible mushrooms sprout as soon as thunder and lightning start bringing in the rains in late May.  From our experience, they do start growing by the latter part of July, and the early morning rise to hunt for them continues till August.

We're speaking of mushroom hunting in an urban setting--our subdivision in Quezon City--where there are still plenty of vacant lots with termite hills. Time will come though when these hills would all be gone, and our edible mushrooms will just be part of our own urban culinary folklore.  Every now and then, new houses go up and these small hills are paved away. 

Our friend, Dr. Edwin R. Tadiosa of the Philippine National Herbarium, National Museum, an expert on macroscopic fungi, says they used to eat these mushrooms in his hometown province Quezon, which they call kabuteng punso (Tag.), scientifically known as Termitomyces albuminosa. The first name/genus is associated with termite nests. 

The edible mushrooms we savored in our hometown in Zambales were gathered from bamboo groves.  We Ilocanos simply call them oong. Their caps are not as firm as those of the kabute.  

Small mushrooms can be found everywhere.  Variety at left cling to dry stalks of grass.

These days, edible mushrooms are cultured.  Our cousin in the province grows the imported species, the oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus) and button (Agaricus bisporus) mushrooms, in our yard, and we've allowed him to use our unoccupied house as his laboratory.  We buy fresh imported Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) from our favorite veggie vendor in the Sunday market, which we grill and mix with our Ilocano version of the ratatouille, the pinakbet.

There are other mushrooms we've found growing around. We don't gather them even if they look edible since they are not "odorous and colorful", reported qualities of poisonous species.  We also read that "metallic silver articles turn black in contact with the poisonous mushrooms," and "one can examine that the mushroom is poisonous or edible with the help of snails" because snails"do not eat poisonous mushrooms even by mistake." Until we know any better, we'd just stick to kabuteng punso.

Species found under the trees in Zambales.

There are other macroscopic fungi that we saw growing on tree trunks in our neighborhood.  Pretty soon too these would all vanish as old decaying tree stumps are hauled away or mature trees cut to give way to new houses. 

We are aware of the Ganoderma species because they are blended in one coffee product we tried selling years ago.  Another scientist friend says he is using this fungus in a research project.  Thus we went around our village to photograph species growing around for him to tell us which is his research subject.

Soon-to-vanish species clinging on tree trunks in the Quezon City subdivision.

On the other hand, Dr. Tadiosa and his teams had been studying fungal species around the country. So far, they have found, among others, --
  • relatively high fungal species diversity at the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape in Batangas: 75 species belonging to 36 genera and 23 families;  
  • new record fungal species, and one possible new species of the genus Hexagon among the 38 families, 68 genera, and 107 species with a total of 684 individuals in Bazal-Baubo Watershed, Aurora Province;
  • twenty-seven species of macroscopic fungi belonging to fifteen genera associated with the decay of dipterocarps at Mt. Makiling, Laguna.
"Nowadays, fungal diversity in the Philippines is estimated as 3956 species and 818 genera ... [while] "[t]he estimated number of fungi in the world is 1.5 million and with only 120,000 so far reported," he says. 

He fears that many unreported fungal species in the country may vanish or become extinct because natural areas are being converted to housing subdivisions or commercial complexes.


Ghosh, D. (2004, May).  Search for Future Viands.Algae and Fungi as Food. Resonance. Retrieved from http://www.ias.ac.in/resonance/May2004/pdf/May2004p33-40.pdf 

Tadiosa, E.R. (2012, Apr).  The Growth and Development of Mycology in the Philippines. Fungal Conservation issue 2. 

Tadiosa, E.R. & Briones, R. U. (2013). Fungi of Taal Volcano Protected Landscape, Southern Luzon, Philippines. Asian Journal of Biodiversity. 4(1).

Tadiosa, E.R., Militante, E.P., & Pampolina, N.M. (2012). Fungi Associated with Decay of Some Philippine Dipterocarps and Its Ecological Functions and Significance at Mt. Makiling, Laguna, Philippines. IAMURE: International Journal of Ecology and Conservation. 3(1).

Tadiosa, E.R., Agbayani, E.S., & Agustin N.T. (2011). Preliminary Study on the Macrofungi of Bazal-Baubo Watershed, Aurora Province, Central Luzon, Philippines. Asian Journal of Biodiversity. 2(1). 


  1. helo thnx for this post sir. sir i am conducting a study, identifying mushroom in my town. is there available books that i can use to identify the mushroom i collected im a student of laguna state polytechnic university

    pls email me


  2. Macrolepiota Procera - the parasol mushroom is growing well under small trees in Santa, Ilocos Sur. I am also finding the shaggy ink cap - Coprinus Comatus. So far no Baletus anywhere. Perhaps I shall cultivate some local ones at home ! I have not been able to find any books on mushrooms in the tropics at all.