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, Universidad Veracruzana, Mdxico), Juventino Garcia Alvarado, Armando Mpez Ramirez (Instituto de Genetica Forestal. Universidad Veracruzana, Mdxico), and Rlair Orr (School of
Forestry and Wood Products, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931-1295; email bdorr@rntu.edu).EDIBLE WILD MUSHROOMS OF THE COFRE E PEROTEEGION, V ER A C R U Z , D R MEXICO: AN ETHNOMYCOLOGICALOF COMMONAMES A N D USES.Economic Botany STUDY N 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 comestibles 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 traditional pre-Hispanic and Mexican culture. Today, global markets for edible mushrooms, especially in Japan, are changing the socio-econornic landscape of mushroom use in Veracruz, Mexico. In order to gain a better understanding of the relationship between the fungi, the local people, and the economy, field investigations and interviews were conducted. The authors spent three days in March, 2000, visiting various towns and fungal habitats in the Cofre de Perote Region of Veracruz. The local people provided the primary information base (via interviews) as

they are the ones who collected and used the fungi and had the most practical knowledge.

The Cofre de Perote region lies at the southe m end of the Sierra Madre Oriental, centered at 19" 30' N, 97" 20' W. While the mountains reach 5746 meters at Pico de Orizaba, Mexico's highest elevation, this study was conducted on the eastern slopes of the range at elevations from 2000 to 4200 meters above sea level. Towns were approximately 2000 meters to 3500 meters above sea level. The dominant vegetation types in the area are mesophytic Pinus-Quercus and, at the higher elevations, Abies forests. Much of the area has been converted to agricultural use, predomi-


Received 24 May 2001; accepted 20 August 2004.

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.



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I. What is your name? 2. Where are you from? 3. Do you collect edible mushrooms? 4. What are the names of the mushrooms that you collect? 5. What do you do with the mushrooms after collecting them? 6. Do you know and collect hongo blanco? 7. Do you eat or sell hongo blanco? Why? 8. How much money do you obtain from the sale of honzo blanco or other edible mushrooms? 9. What company or persons buy hongo blanco or other edible mushrooms from your area? 10. Where are these companies or persons located? I I. Do you cultivate edible mushrooms? Which? Why? How? Where? When? 12. Do you know someone who cultivates mushrooms? Who? Where do they live? 13. Are you interested in cultivating edible mushrooms?


formants, people who were known to collect and sell mushrooms. When interviewees were more at ease, we were able to collect more detailed information. Information was collected on interview forms and some responses were audiotaped. The data were then combined to form a complete list of mushrooms collected, used, and sold by our informants. We also used a linguist, Professor Felix Jauregui, to help us interpret NBhuatl names for the various species (Martin 1995). Field data were supplemented with information from printed and electronic sources (Arthur 2000; Becker 1989; Deacon 1997; DiazBarriga 1992; Groves 1979; Hosford 1997; Kuo 1998; Lincoff 1981a,b; Palouse Mycological Association 2000; Smith 1971, 1975; Smith and Smith-Weber 1988; Someya 2000; Tubaki 1975; Volk 2000; Wilson 1995; Wood 2000; Yamada 1997).




nantly potato production. Soil types ranged from sands to volcanically derived silt loams. Though the area is mesophytic, the study was conducted during the dry season; there was relatively less vegetation than at other times of the year.

From March 20 to 22, 2000, the authors interviewed local residents of the towns of Cruz Blanca (March 20), Los Pescados (March 21) and 20 de Noviembre (March 22). Two teams, each composed of both Mexican and US students, conducted interviews to obtain a diverse census of mushroom use and edibility. When possible, an attempt was made to contact individuals who were known locally as principal mushroom collectors within their community. Interviews were conducted in Spanish. The interviews were semi-structured (Alexiades 1996; Bernard 1995). The goals of the interviews were to determine which mushrooms were collected by local citizens and how they were used. While we had a specific set of questions we wanted answered (Table I), we used a more informal and conversational approach when interviewing people. We also made an effort to reach key in-

Within our three communities, the interviewees reported fourteen species using twenty-six 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 Indians, named objects after old or familiar items. Therefore, in Mexico one word may refer to many different objects but have a similar origin in meaning. The common names used for the local wild mushroon~sin the area around Cofre de Perote provide excellent examples of this practice (Lopez Ramirez 1986). All of the common names recorded in the surveys are Spanish words or NBhuatl words, the language of the Aztecs, except Tanaca (Jauregui 2000; Lopez Ramirez 1986). Most of the names describe a physical characteristic or refer to a familiar object with a similar characteristic, thereby making it easy to pass down the lore. For example, Amantecado (Amanita rubescens) translates to English as "the lover." The mushroom bruises red, similar to the blush of a lover. A few local names specifically describe the characteristic that separates the edible mushroom from non-edible look-alikes that grow in the same habitat. Amanita caesarea is known as Tecomate, the NBhuatl word for vessel. The name aptly describes the saclike cup around its base which distinguishes Tecomate from similar, but poisonous, mushrooms. The peach- or apricot-like odor of Cantharellus cibarius is dis-

2 w l



Scienlific and common Mexican name

Description o f name

Meaning o f common name

Amanita caesarea Tecomate


Tecomate is Nhhuatl. It describes the saclike cup around its base. This is important because its poisonous look-alikes lack the cup. Mosca describes the mushroom's ability to attract 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. Mantequillo describes the shiny and sometimes lubricated cap of the mushroom. Amantecado is significant since this mushroom bruises reddish, like a lover. It poisonous look-alikes do not bruise reddish. The stem of this mushroom widens in the middle and looks like a beer belly. Duraznito is yellow or orange with fine hairs and smells like apricots or a peach. Its look-alikes are odorless, except its poisonous look-alike which smells bad.

Amanita muscaria Hongo de mosca Mosca

Fly mushroom Fly

Amanita rubescens Mantequillo Amantecado

Butter Lover

Boletus edulis Panzas (Pancitas) Cantharellus cibarius Duraznito Hongo Amarillo


Little peach Yellow mushroom

Clavaria aurea Ramaria botrytis Escobea Pechuga

Little broom Breast meat of fowl

When this coral mushroom is tied up for storage, 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. Tzenso is NBhuatl. It refers to how sometimes 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. Corneta refers to the coronet shape of the mushroom. It is shaped like the broad funnel whose edges curve under, similar to the musical instrument. It is also called Tropa, though this is more commonly another species. 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 resembles. Enchilado is appropriate since this bright orange to 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 toro.

Clitocybe clavipes Tzenso Chivos (Chivitos)

Entangled Little goat

Gomphus jfoccossus Corneta


Helvella lacunosa Chipotle

Group of wrinkles

Hypomyces lactifluovum Enchilado Chipo de toro

Chile Mouth of bull



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Scientific and common Mexican name

Meaning of common name

Description of name

Lactarius indigo

Azul Queshque

Blue Name of a blue bird Wool jacket

Azul refers to the distinctive blue color of this 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 sweaters. 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 collecting. Trompa is a yellow to orange funnel-shaped mushroom which flares out at the top, and so resembles a trumpet.


LyophyNum decasres

Xolete (sholete)

Scrape off

Russula brevipes Russula delica

Tricholoma magnivelare Tricholoma magnivelaris Armillaria ponderosa


Hongo blanco Hongo canela Hongo de ray0 Hongo rico Tanaca

White mushroom Cinnamon mushroom Lined .mushroom Rich mushroom Japanese family name

T. magnivelare is a mostly white mushroom that

smells like cinnamon, which explains the names Hongo blanco and Hongo canela. Honga de ray0 refers to the mushroom's nature to become 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.magnivelare.

tinctly different from the foul odor of similar poisonous mushrooms. The common name, duraznito, means little peach, marking odor as a key characteristic for collectors. The names have stayed in use in the region because they have been passed down through generations and allow for easy identification (Lopez Ramirez 1986). In general, these names make it easy to recall key characteristics of the mushroom. In at least one case, the modem world is changing some of the key characteristics. Traditionally, mushrooms were collected for home consumption. Any commercialization was strictly at the local-market level. Most of the mushrooms in this study followed the traditional use pattern; home consumption or local sales were dominant. Average prices for these mushrooms were 15 to 30 pesos per kilogram, though in the regional markets of Xalapa and Perote prices for a few species may reach over 200 pesos per kilogram. However, the global

mushroom market now extends throughout Mexico, especially through trade with Japan (Bandala et al. 1997). In the Cofre de Perote region, hongo blanco is the primary export mushroom. Prices range from 200 to 850 pesos per kilogram, a substantially higher price than is paid for mushrooms which are only used locally. The primary purchaser is a Japanese buyer, Tanaca. Thus, hongo blanco has acquired two additional common names, Tanaca and hongo rico, the rich mushroom. Increasing prices have made hongo blanco significantly more valuable than other species to local mushroom collectors. As a result, collection efforts have increased. Today, collectors find it more difficult to locate patches of hongo blanco than they did in the past. Similar comments were far less frequent for other species.

CONCLUSIONS The etymology of common names of mushrooms in the Cofre de Perote region reveals the




long tradition of mushroom use, stretching back to pre-Columbian Mexico. The logic, identification of key characteristics, behind the names is quite evident. The mushrooms continue to be used as they have been for centuries, for home use and for local sale. Globalization of mushroom trade has reached the Cofre de Perote region. It is reflected not only in the prices paid for hongo blanco, but the additional names which hongo blanco has acquired. Given the socio-economic conditions of the region, it is reasonable to assume that mushrooms will continue to play an important role for local citizens a s long as the mushrooms remain available. It is important to conduct this type of research to determine the current ecological situations of individual species. Many of the people interviewed commented that the fungi, particularly hongo blanco, are becoming more and more difficult to find. If research on fungi is conducted on a regular basis over an extended period of time, patterns of abundance and the effects of human impact can b e monitored and assessed. From such information, management plans and harvesting strategies can be formulated and implemented to ensure the lasting presence of these socially and economically important species.

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