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Jarvis, Mary Claire (University of Notre Dame), Ann Marie Miller, Jamie Sheahan, Kerry
Ploetz, Jeff Ploetz (School of Forestry and Wood Products. Michigan Technological University,
Houghton MI 49931-1295), Robyn Ready Watson (University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
40506), Mario Palma Ruiz, Carlos Andres Pascario Villapan (Facultad de Biologia, Univ-
ersidad Veracruzana, Mdxico), Juventino Garcia Alvarado, Armando Mpez Ramirez (In-
stituto de Genetica Forestal. Universidad Veracruzana, Mdxico), and Rlair Orr (School of
Forestry and Wood Products, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931-1295;
58(Supplement):SlIl-S115,2004. A Jield study in the Cofre de Perote region found that edible
mushrooms play an important role in the socio-economics activities of the local population.
Several very OM common names indicate a long-standing traditional knowledge about this
regional resource. Recent changes in marketing mushrooms are evident.

Una investigacidn en la regidn del Cofre de Perote sobre 10s hongos silvestres u'tiles y comes-
tibles se llevd a cab0 durante el curso de micologia por 10s estudiantes y profesores y encontrci
que 10s hongos comestibles en la regidn juegan un papel socio-econdmico importante en las
actividades de la poblacidn local, varios nombres locales muy viejos indican que tan antiguo
es el conocirniento sobre este recurso en esre lugar. Cambios recientes en el mercado de 10s
hongos evidentes.
Key Words: Edible mushrooms; useful mushrooms; Cofre de Perote; ethnomycology; Vera-

Mushroom collection and use are part of tra- they are the ones who collected and used the
ditional pre-Hispanic and Mexican culture. To- fungi and had the most practical knowledge.
day, global markets for edible mushrooms, es-
pecially in Japan, are changing the socio-eco- A RE A DESCRIPTION
nornic landscape of mushroom use in Veracruz, The Cofre de Perote region lies at the south-
Mexico. In order to gain a better understanding e m end of the Sierra Madre Oriental, centered
of the relationship between the fungi, the local at 19" 30' N, 97" 20' W. While the mountains
people, and the economy, field investigations reach 5746 meters at Pico de Orizaba, Mexico's
and interviews were conducted. The authors highest elevation, this study was conducted on
spent three days in March, 2000, visiting various the eastern slopes of the range at elevations from
towns and fungal habitats in the Cofre de Perote 2000 to 4200 meters above sea level. Towns
Region of Veracruz. The local people provided were approximately 2000 meters to 3500 meters
above sea level.
the primary information base (via interviews) as
The dominant vegetation types in the area are
mesophytic Pinus-Quercus and, at the higher
elevations, Abies forests. Much of the area has
I Received 24 May 2001; accepted 20 August 2004. been converted to agricultural use, predomi-

Economic Botany 58(Supplement)pp. S 1 1 1-S 115. 2004

O 2004 by The New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, NY 10458-5126 U.S.A.

TABLE 1. I NTERVIEW QUESTIONS. T HE INTERVIEWS formants, people who were known to collect and
WERE SEMI-STRUCTURED. I NTERVIEWEES W ER E NOT sell mushrooms. When interviewees were more
NECESSARILY ASKED FOR ANSWERS TO ALL OF THE at ease, we were able to collect more detailed
QUESTIONS. QUESTIONS WERE NOT A L ~ A Y SASKED information. Information was collected on inter-
IN THE ORDER SHOWN BELOW. view forms and some responses were audiota-
ped. The data were then combined to form a
I. What is your name? complete list of mushrooms collected, used, and
2. Where are you from? sold by our informants. We also used a linguist,
3. Do you collect edible mushrooms? Professor Felix Jauregui, to help us interpret NB-
4. What are the names of the mushrooms that you huatl names for the various species (Martin
collect? 1995). Field data were supplemented with infor-
5. What do you do with the mushrooms after col-
mation from printed and electronic sources (Ar-
lecting them?
6. Do you know and collect hongo blanco? thur 2000; Becker 1989; Deacon 1997; Diaz-
7. Do you eat or sell hongo blanco? Why? Barriga 1992; Groves 1979; Hosford 1997; Kuo
8. How much money do you obtain from the sale of 1998; Lincoff 1981a,b; Palouse Mycological As-
honzo blanco or other edible mushrooms?
9. What company or persons buy hongo blanco or
sociation 2000; Smith 1971, 1975; Smith and
Smith-Weber 1988; Someya 2000; Tubaki 1975;
other edible mushrooms from your area? Volk 2000; Wilson 1995; Wood 2000; Yamada
10. Where are these companies or persons located? 1997).
I I. Do you cultivate edible mushrooms? Which?
12. Do you know someone who cultivates mush-
Within our three communities, the interview-
rooms? Who? Where do they live?
13. Are you interested in cultivating edible mush- ees reported fourteen species using twenty-six
rooms? common names. Table 2 shows the common and
scientific names, the meaning of the common
name and a description of the name.
Mexicans and their predecessors, the Aztec
nantly potato production. Soil types ranged from Indians, named objects after old or familiar
sands to volcanically derived silt loams. Though items. Therefore, in Mexico one word may refer
the area is mesophytic, the study was conducted to many different objects but have a similar or-
during the dry season; there was relatively less igin in meaning. The common names used for
vegetation than at other times of the year. the local wild mushroon~sin the area around
Cofre de Perote provide excellent examples of
this practice (Lopez Ramirez 1986). All of the
From March 20 to 22, 2000, the authors in- common names recorded in the surveys are
terviewed local residents of the towns of Cruz Spanish words or NBhuatl words, the language
Blanca (March 20), Los Pescados (March 21) of the Aztecs, except Tanaca (Jauregui 2000;
and 20 de Noviembre (March 22). Two teams, Lopez Ramirez 1986). Most of the names de-
each composed of both Mexican and US stu- scribe a physical characteristic or refer to a fa-
dents, conducted interviews to obtain a diverse miliar object with a similar characteristic, there-
census of mushroom use and edibility. When by making it easy to pass down the lore. For
possible, an attempt was made to contact indi- example, Amantecado (Amanita rubescens)
viduals who were known locally as principal translates to English as "the lover." The mush-
mushroom collectors within their community. room bruises red, similar to the blush of a lover.
Interviews were conducted in Spanish. The in- A few local names specifically describe the
terviews were semi-structured (Alexiades 1996; characteristic that separates the edible mush-
Bernard 1995). The goals of the interviews were room from non-edible look-alikes that grow in
to determine which mushrooms were collected the same habitat. Amanita caesarea is known as
by local citizens and how they were used. While Tecomate, the NBhuatl word for vessel. The
we had a specific set of questions we wanted name aptly describes the saclike cup around its
answered (Table I), we used a more informal base which distinguishes Tecomate from similar,
and conversational approach when interviewing but poisonous, mushrooms. The peach- or apri-
people. We also made an effort to reach key in- cot-like odor of Cantharellus cibarius is dis-


Scienlific and common Meaning o f

Mexican name common name Description o f name

Amanita caesarea
Tecomate Vessel Tecomate is Nhhuatl. It describes the saclike cup
around its base. This is important because its
poisonous look-alikes lack the cup.
Amanita muscaria
Hongo de mosca Fly mushroom Mosca describes the mushroom's ability to attract
Mosca Fly flies by its red color and to kill them by the gas
it emits. When it is chopped up and put in milk,
Mosca acts as a natural fly killer.
Amanita rubescens
Mantequillo Butter Mantequillo describes the shiny and sometimes lu-
Amantecado Lover bricated cap of the mushroom. Amantecado is
significant since this mushroom bruises reddish,
like a lover. It poisonous look-alikes do not
bruise reddish.
Boletus edulis
Panzas (Pancitas) Belly The stem of this mushroom widens in the middle
and looks like a beer belly.
Cantharellus cibarius
Duraznito Little peach Duraznito is yellow or orange with fine hairs and
Hongo Amarillo Yellow mushroom smells like apricots or a peach. Its look-alikes
are odorless, except its poisonous look-alike
which smells bad.
Clavaria aurea
Ramaria botrytis
Escobea Little broom When this coral mushroom is tied up for storage,
Pechuga Breast meat of fowl it looks like the small escobeta brush used for
scrubbing dishes. Pechuga is significant because
when this mushroom is cooked it looks similar
to shredded chicken breast meat.
Clitocybe clavipes
Tzenso Entangled Tzenso is NBhuatl. It refers to how sometimes
Chivos (Chivitos) Little goat many of these small mushrooms grow together
in bunches. This mushroom turned upside-down
looks like a small goat's foot. It is either flat or
slightly indented like a goat's cleft foot.
Gomphus jfoccossus
Corneta Coronet Corneta refers to the coronet shape of the mush-
room. It is shaped like the broad funnel whose
edges curve under, similar to the musical instru-
ment. It is also called Tropa, though this is
more commonly another species.
Helvella lacunosa
Chipotle Group of wrinkles Chipotle is Nhhuatl for a type of dry chile pepper.
It describes the wrinkly cap, and it refers to the
dried chile of the same name which it resem-
Hypomyces lactifluovum
Enchilado Chile Enchilado is appropriate since this bright orange to
Chipo de toro Mouth of bull red mold grows on host mushrooms making
them edible like chile spices food. The mold
creates a bumpy surface on the host mushroom
resembling the texture of a tongue, or Chipo do

Scientific and common Meaning of

Mexican name common name Description of name

Lactarius indigo
Azul Blue Azul refers to the distinctive blue color of this
Queshque Name of a blue bird
Wool jacket
mushroom. Queshque is a Nhhuatl name of a
blue bird. Queshque, which also means wool -
jacket, may refer to the concentric circles on the
cap which are like the lines in woven wool
LyophyNum decasres
Xolete (sholete) Scrape off Xolete is Nhhuatl. Since these mushrooms grow in
clumps in a bowl-like vessel, xolete refers to
how the people scrape the fruit bodies off when
Russula brevipes
Russula delica
Trompa Trumpet Trompa is a yellow to orange funnel-shaped mush-
room which flares out at the top, and so resem-
bles a trumpet.
Tricholoma magnivelare
Tricholoma magnivelaris
Armillaria ponderosa
Hongo blanco White mushroom T. magnivelare is a mostly white mushroom that
Hongo canela Cinnamon mushroom smells like cinnamon, which explains the names
Hongo de ray0 Lined .mushroom Hongo blanco and Hongo canela. Honga de
Hongo rico Rich mushroom ray0 refers to the mushroom's nature to become
Tanaca Japanese family name streaked with brown when it ages. Hongo rico
either refers to its delicious taste or to the great
price for which it sells. Tanaca is the last name
of the Japanese family that came to buy T.mag-

tinctly different from the foul odor of similar mushroom market now extends throughout
poisonous mushrooms. The common name, dur- Mexico, especially through trade with Japan
aznito, means little peach, marking odor as a key (Bandala et al. 1997). In the Cofre de Perote
characteristic for collectors. region, hongo blanco is the primary export
The names have stayed in use in the region mushroom. Prices range from 200 to 850 pesos
because they have been passed down through per kilogram, a substantially higher price than is
generations and allow for easy identification paid for mushrooms which are only used locally.
(Lopez Ramirez 1986). In general, these names The primary purchaser is a Japanese buyer, Tan-
make it easy to recall key characteristics of the aca. Thus, hongo blanco has acquired two ad-
mushroom. In at least one case, the modem ditional common names, Tanaca and hongo rico,
world is changing some of the key characteris- the rich mushroom.
tics. Traditionally, mushrooms were collected Increasing prices have made hongo blanco
for home consumption. Any commercialization significantly more valuable than other species to
was strictly at the local-market level. Most of local mushroom collectors. As a result, collec-
the mushrooms in this study followed the tra- tion efforts have increased. Today, collectors
ditional use pattern; home consumption or local find it more difficult to locate patches of hongo
sales were dominant. Average prices for these blanco than they did in the past. Similar com-
mushrooms were 15 to 30 pesos per kilogram, ments were far less frequent for other species.
though in the regional markets of Xalapa and CONCLUSIONS
Perote prices for a few species may reach over The etymology of common names of mush-
200 pesos per kilogram. However, the global rooms in the Cofre de Perote region reveals the

long tradition of mushroom use, stretching back nenosos de la Cuenca del Lago-PBtzcuaro Michoa-
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room trade has reached the Cofre de Perote re- commercially harvested American matsutake
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which hongo blanco has acquired. Jauregui, F. 2000. Personal communication. April 3.
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