The nail mushrooms are presented in many forms grouped under the scientific name of “Armillaria mellea”. They are “parasitic” fungi which can damage woods and forests, but also gardens and orchards if they develop on the trees sticking to the trunks by means of the “mycelial threads” which are similar to roots.
The pegs, widespread all over Europe and in many other areas of the world, among which North America, have gills emitting a dim light, hardly visible to the human eye in a normal wooded environment, even in a moonless night. To try to see this effect, it is necessary to observe the tacks in a completely darkened room, after the eyes have become accustomed to the dark and the pupils have completely dilated.
The best known luminescent fungus is “Illudens Omphalotus”, also commonly known as “Jack O ‘Lantern”.
Taxonomic history and their variety
The nail mushrooms have been described for the first time in 1790 by the Danish mycologist Martin Vahl, who classified them as “Agaricus mellea”, later on they were moved in the present genus “Armillaria mellea” by the famous German mycologist Paul Kummer. The experts subdivide the nail mushrooms, called also “honey mushrooms”, for their characteristic colour rather than for their taste, anything but sweet, in different varieties.
There are, for instance, nails with very scaly caps and small, or almost flake-free, stem rings with large white rings. Then there are the species of mushrooms that are similar to the pegs in general appearance but distinguishable for some details, such as the “Hypholoma Sublateritium”, called false pegs, very bitter and inedible but very effective for anti-rheumatic therapies.
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To recognize the nails you can consider the cap (or cap), the gills and the stem, bearing in mind that they may come in different shapes and shades of color depending on the season and environment. The cap has a diameter varying from 5 to 10 cm, with a colour varying from the yellow-honey to the red-brown, initially very convex and later flattening, with white or pale flesh.
The gills, slightly decurrent, are thick, initially of flesh colour, become more yellow and, with the ageing, develop rust spots. The stems, initially white, turn to yellow and yellowish-brown, the flesh is white and fairly firm. The diameter of the stem can vary from 5 to 15 mm and its height from 6 to 15 cm, with a finely woolly surface.
Chiodini: Guide to domestic cultivation
It is possible to grow the pegs in the house getting the spores and a suitable growing medium. The spores are available in food mushroom shops and for the growing medium it is recommended to use sterilised hardwood sawdust, such as oak. Then place the culture medium in a container, a cardboard box or a plastic tray, to a depth of 5-6 cm. Sow the spores and spray moisten the entire container and place the container in a dark place at 20 °C for at least three weeks.
Lower the temperature to 13°C, spread 2-3 cm of compost on the surface of the growing medium and place on a damp cloth. Keep the tissue and soil constantly moist until you see the spikes grow, which takes another 2-3 weeks to reach maturity.
- Like all mushrooms, pegs need a constantly moist soil. Right from the time the content is set up, it is important to ensure that the
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