Kuujjuaq Fungi: Twenty Species

Twenty Mushrooms of the Kuujjuaq Area

Fungi of the Kuujjuaq region, Nunavik, Quebec, Canada
Collections made 12-18 August 2007 by Lawrence Millman

In 2007, I received a grant from Nunavik’s Makivik Corporation to study the mushrooms in and around Kuujjuaq. This community, the largest in Nunavik, was ideally situated for mycological research, since it was both above and below the tree-line. Here are the results:

See also: The Kuujjuaq Project Report, and the Full Species List.

Albatrellus confluens
Albatrellus confluens
A relatively uncommon species. Although its smell is fragrant, its taste is usually bitter. Often found in clusters with fused caps.

Amanita inaurata
Amanita inaurata (Gilded Grisette)
Also known as Amanita ceciliae. Anyone who experiments with eating Amanitas risks a visit to the hospital.

Coltricia perennis
Coltricia perennis
One of the few polypores that has a symbiotic relationship with plant roots. Frequently found in disturbed habitats such as ATV trails, clearings and roadsides.

Gomphidius nigricans
Gomphidius nigricans (Blackening Gomphidius)
A quite uncommon species. The slimy covering of G. nigricans serves as a kind of antifreeze in cold weather.

Hydnellum peckii
Hydnellum peckii (Bleeding Tooth)
This species grows exclusively with conifers. When fresh, it exudes bright red droplets, hence its common name.

Hygrocybe miniata
Hygrocybe miniata (Fading Scarlet Waxy Cap)
As it looses moisture H. miniata fades from scarlet to orange or pale yellow. It grows in moss and wet places such as swamps and sphagnum bogs.

Inocybe lacera
Inocybe lacera (Torn Fiber Head)
Poisonous. The genus Inocybe probably has the highest percentage of poisonous species of any mushroom genus.

Laccaria bicolor
Laccaria bicolor
L. bicolor is more common in the West than the East, and more common in the subarctic than in temperate regions. Its mycelium uses a chemical to kill soil-dwelling nematodes, then sucks nitrogen from them.

Lactarius deliciosus
Lactarius deliciosus (Orange Latex Milky)
Edible, but not really delicious, although Russians seem to like it. Several varieties occur, and most are very bitter.

Lactarius representaneus
Lactarius representaneus (Northern Bearded Milky)
This species has hairs on its cap that give it a bearded look. When its so-called milk (actually coloured water) oxidizes, the gills of L. representaneus have a lilac or purple colour. Inedible.

Leccinum insigne
Leccinum insigne (Aspen Bolete)
A good edible. Despite its name, the Aspen Bolete commonly grows near birch in the North.

Leccinum scabrum
Leccinum scabrum (Birch Bolete)
An excellent edible and one of the most common mushrooms in the Kuujjuaq area. Gather young, firm specimens rather than soft older ones.

Lycoperdon gemmatum
Lycoperdon gemmatum (Gemmed Puffball)
Edible when firm and white inside, but specimens showing any yellow should be discarded. Lycoperdon puffballs were traditionally used by the Inuit to disinfect wounds. Their Inuktitut name was pujoaluk.

Paxillus involutus
Paxillus involutus (Poison Pax)
Highly poisonous! P. involutus can cause hemolysis (destruction of red blood cells) and kidney failure if eaten raw, and sometimes even when it’s cooked.

Peziza badia
Peziza badia (Red Cup)
This cup-like fungus produces its spores in a pinball-shaped apparatus called an ascus. It grows both on the ground and on decayed wood.

Rozites caperata
Rozites caperata (Gypsy)
Also known as Cortinarius caperata. A good edible but make certain that the gills are rust-brown in colour, as poisonous Amanitas have whitish gills.

Russula adusta
Russula adusta
Common in the North, less so in temperate regions, R. adusta bruises slowly pink, then grey. It can cause gastric upset, so do not eat it.

Russula emetica
Russula emetica (The Sickener)
In the words of one mushroom expert, this species is “pleasing to the eyes of all, but to the stomachs of none.” It was once used to induce vomiting.

Spathularia flavida
Spathularia flavida (Fairy Fan)
The paddle or fan-shaped “head” of this relatively uncommon species makes it distinctive. Like P. badia, it produces its spores in an ascus.

Thelephora terrestris
Thelephora terrestris (Common Earth Vase)
Not only does this mushroom have a somewhat unattractive fruiting body, but its mycelium parasitzes tree seedlings.

Kuujjuak Fungi
Proceed to the Project Report, or the Kuujjuaq Full Species List.

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Sir John Franklin’s Lost Diary

On September 9, 2014, Parks Canada discovered the remains of the HMS Erebus, explorer Sir John Franklin’s remarkably newsworthy flagship. Among the artifacts retrieved from the ship was a Fortnum & Mason jar labelled “Sweets.” The jar did not contain any sweets, but rather a diary written by Sir John himself — a diary that solves at least part of the so-called Franklin mystery. What follows is that diary’s final entries:

FranklinApril 30, 1847. Ship lies groaning & straining in the ice off King William Island. On a whim, I brought out my maps of Arctic Canada, only to discover that the Admiralty had provided me with maps of Polynesia — an unfortunate error.

May 2, 1847. Sore gums & loose teeth indicate that many of the crew have scurvy, so I spoke out against this nefarious French disease & initiated tango lessons and likewise bench pressing of the ship’s spittoons to ward it off.

May 3, 1847. Ship still mired in the ice. The bosun, in the midst of a tango maneuver, fell overboard, went through the ice, & was promptly torn to shreds by a school of man-eating isobars. Bloody Arctic!

May 5, 1847. Dreamt Lady Jane came for a visit & asked, “Sir John, why are you late to supper?” “I’m looking for the Northwest Passage, dear,” I told her. “But you can’t eat the Northwest Passage, can you?” she replied ominously, then vanished.

May 8, 1847. Lost three men today, one to scurvy, another to terminal gingivitis, & yet another to ennui. To make matters worse, the steward told me, in his inimitable fashion, “we ain’t got no more elevenses for you, sir.” How can I captain this expedition without my elevenses?

May 11, 1847. The cook extremely upset over our empty larders. Says there isn’t even any solder left inside our food tins. “Hang in there, old chap,” I told him, but the roar of the wind in the ship’s rigging garbled my words, & he tried to hang himself. At least the men are still obeying my orders.

May 12, 1847. Dense fog. We can’t even see the ship’s prow, much less a possible shortcut to the Orient.

May 14, 1847. We’re totally out of crumpets, so I had to feed Cedric [Cedric was Franklin’s pet toucan] a few forlorn scraps of hardtack. Not surprisingly, he squawked in protest.

May 15, 1847. Took bearings & discovered that, instead of corpulent, I am now merely portly. Remarkable that I can now ascend the mast-head as well as descend from it.

May 17, 1847. Men shivering almost constantly, & their beards are hung with icicles, as the Admiralty somehow has seen fit to supply us with tuxedos & cummerbunds rather than parkas. Wrote a letter of protest to the First Lord, then such was my hunger that I proceeded to eat it.

May 27, 1847. Several Savages [Eskimoes] with prognathous jaws visited the ship today. They brought us a batch of pemmican eggs. Alas, all rotten. Must have been laid before the great pemmican migration south. In return, we gave each of the Savages a tuxedo & cummerbund.

May 29, 1847. More misfortune — one of the crew, doubtless a petty officer, has eaten poor Cedric! I said to Fitzjames [Franklin’s second-in-command], “Find the bounder responsible for this & give him a taste of the cat.” “Sorry, sir,” Fitzjames told me, “but we’ve already eaten the ship’s cat.”

May 31, 1847. Lieutenant Orme, a clean-shaven fellow except for his clump of grizzled whiskers, broke into my cabin & consumed the contents of my chamber pot, then began singing “Rule, Brittania.” I put him in the section of the sick bay reserved for nutters.

June 5, 1847. Weary of being mired in ice, we abandoned ship & began making our way to Back’s Fish River, thence, we hope, to England’s green & pleasant land. The men carried me in a sedan chair. Two days into our journey, I realized I’d forgotten my robe & slippers, so we marched back to the ship.

June 8, 1847. Abandoned the ship a second time. Curiously, my sedan chair seems to have disappeared, & I’m now being manhauled in a sledge filled with towels, kettles, sail-maker’s palms, porcelain cups, bedding, checkerboards, our portative organ, longboats, etc.

June 9, 1847. Met a group of Savages & asked them using signs for the route to Back’s Fish River. They fled in terror when Fitzjames produced a loud blast of flatulence. “Sorry, sir,” he said, “but starvation seems not to agree with me.”

June 10, 1847. Longboats abandoned owing to the terrestrial aspect of the land.

June 12, 1847. Dr. Goodsir, our surgeon, tried to enliven things by asking us which vegetable the Admirably forbade us to take on board the Erebus. Answer: Leeks! Only Goodsir himself laughed at this feeble joke, & as he did, several of his teeth loosened in his gums, then fell into the snow.

June 13, 1847. What a nuisance! I seem to have left my monogrammed cutlery & all my medals on the Erebus, so we had no choice but to march back to the ship, which was now a sorry sight — both the fore & aft decks were covered with a thick coat of scurvy.

June 14, 1847. A blizzard has kept us on the ship, so I began working on a talk to be given tomorrow at tea-time. Key sentences include: Eat your boots, men. They’re quite tasty. Give me a nice fresh boot over steak-and-kidney pie any day. [On an earlier expedition, Franklin had been compelled to eat his boots]

June 15, 1847. Hallo, what’s this? Fitzjames has barged into my cabin without a knock. “Sir John,” he says, brandishing his cutlass, “the men & I have made an important decision. The cabin boy is lean & emaciated, while you…”

Here the diary necessarily breaks off, but the percipient reader will have no trouble ascertaining why Franklin’s remains have never been found.

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