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Welcome to the Caps and Stems web page!
Chris Hardwick - 2004 President of the Colorado Mycological Society, Scientist by profession, Amateur Mycologist, Webmaster and Owner of Caps and Stems Dot Com. Click here for a look at my Curriculum vitae! Thanks for dropping by! Here you'll find information and links to identification and edibility. Mushrooms can be found just about anywhere and probably grow nearby wherever you are. If you are interested in mushrooms to eat there are many species that all have a unique taste and texture. Up here in Colorado there is virtually an unlimited amount for the taking IF you know what you are looking for. You can literally fill a five gallon bucket full of edible mushrooms in just minutes if you are in the right spot at the right time and know what to pick. But beware of getting more mushrooms than you can prepare or you'll be overwhelmed trying to prepare them and get you'll get 'Mushroom Burnout'! Eating mushrooms can be very dangerous if you eat a mushroom that is of questionable identification. There are mushrooms that can kill very quickly! But there are many mushrooms that don't have poisonous look alikes and there can be no mistaking them. I call them 'beginner' mushrooms because all the new mushroom hunters know them. Click on the "Identification" link for pictures on beginners mushrooms. The best way to learn about mushrooms is to buy a few good mushroom identification books and then find someone who knows about them and follow them out to hunt mushrooms. They will tell you which ones are the good ones. Once you get "Mushroom Fever" you will be out with a bucket and a knife as often as possible. It's good to get outdoors in the wilderness for some fresh air and it's good exercise too. Hope you enjoy my web site! Happy mushrooming!

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Colorado Magic Mushrooms!
OK! Here it is! Now that everyone has seen the web site, the most common question is 'Have you seen any magic mushrooms?' Of course they mean 'Mind Altering' mushrooms. The answer is yes. In fact there were so many I could have filled another five gallon bucket with Amanita muscaria! This beautiful mushroom is also called the 'Fly Agaric' because of its early use as a fly poison. It is one of the most famous mushrooms in the world and the subject of myths and fairy tales. It's toxins cause bizarre psychological experiences that has made it a source of interest since prehistoric times. The primary toxins are Ibotenic acid and Muscimol. It occurs solitary or scattered to densely gregarious and there is nothing in Colorado that looks similar, although the small young mushroom can look very much like a puffball - so beware puffball hunters! It is esteemed by both maggots and mystics. Fatalities are rare, but it is undoubtedly dangerous in large or even moderate amounts. The effects vary from person to person, mushroom to mushroom, region to region and season to season so that there is no way to determine in advance what one's reaction will be. Too many people have had unpleasant experiences to recommend it. This mushroom smells very good to eat. In fact, it is one of the most common mushrooms involved in poisonings in Colorado. It tastes just like a store bought mushroom! (This means that you can't tell a good mushroom from a bad one by just tasting it.) Still want to try this mushroom? If you do, here's what your in for. (This is out of a book: Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora. I haven't experienced this!) Symptoms appear 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingestion. Nausea and vomiting are common, but the principal effects are on the central nervous system: confusion, mild euphoria, loss of muscular coordination, profuse sweating, chills, visual distortions, a feeling of greater strength, drowsiness, and sometimes hallucinations, delusions, and convulsions. (Some people mistake themselves as Christ!) Many people will fall asleep to awaken hours later with little or no memory of their experiences. Most people who try it do not wish to repeat the experience. This experience differs greatly from that of the common 'recreational' mushrooms (which contain a different active ingredient and, by the way, are illegal in the US!). After ingestion of the Fly Agaric, most people believe that they are going to die! The best medicine, in case of accidental or purposeful ingestion, is to assure them that they are going to be OK. By the way, there are no 'recreational magic mushrooms' that grow in the wild in Colorado, at least none that anyone would recommend! (Sorry for the bad news all you trippers.)

Colorado's 'Magic Mushroom'

Amanita muscaria
Magic Mushroom!

Images provided by permission of The Spore Works
Amanita muscaria

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Site Posted on November 30, 2001
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Mushroom Identification