I love tooth fungus! The colors they yield are my kind of colors. They are beautiful and complex to work with in the dye pot. They love an alkaline bath and like to have their pH shifted within the first 5-10 minutes of working them. I used sodium carbonate (soda ash) to shift my dye baths to pH 9. There is a long tradition of using ammonia with tooth fungus and I might try a test to compare the results on fiber. You have to be sure to maintain the dye bath at pH 9 throughout the duration of the dye bath. Cellulose fibers love high alkaline environments so they respond very well to the dye from tooth fungus. Don’t worry if your fibers look like they have a brown tinge on them in the dye bath as all tooth fungus do this and the brown washes out. If you aren’t happy with the results of your color you can also dip your fibers in an alkaline after bath to shift the colors. I have never been successful at getting a clear lake from any of the Hydnellums. Pigment settles to the bottom but the liquid is incredibly dark and filled with color. I save this filtered liquid, evaporate it down and use it for ink. It works beautifully.
When my local Mount Adams Institute (MAI) sent out their newsletter of events and I saw Michael Beug was hosting a lecture and foray I had to double check what I had just read. I immediately texted my friends, one being Rachel Zoller, and said we had to go. I was new to the area and had heard a famous mycologist lived in our community but I had yet to substantiate the ‘rumor’ or figure out who it was. Reading this newsletter I automatically knew, it was Michael Beug! We all signed up and had a magical day with Michael in the forest and I learned so much from his lecture.
He told me that every other year he volunteers his time to MAI to do this as a fundraiser for scholarships. That was inspirational in and of it itself. I continued to join every other year and went out with Michael in 2019, the year we had an epic mushroom bloom in the Pacific Northwest. I was walking around and came across a Hydnellum. I couldn’t immediately identify it, so I consulted my book Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest and couldn’t find it. I had never seen one like it before. I asked Michael when he had a moment if he could come help me identify it. He was at least 15’ away and blurted out ‘that is Hydnellum regium!’ and was very excited. I too got excited having never seen one before but had heard of the famed mushroom dye.
Michael was with the North American Key Council on a retreat that weekend and said he had just been talking to Steve Trudell and Joe Ammirati who wrote the book Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest and they told him that H. regium did not grow in our area. Michael was astonished. Here it was. And not only here it was there were tons of patches and huge clusters of them everywhere. We started doing the happy myco dance plucking them up. We had bags upon bags. We enlisted others on the foray to help carry them. I have no idea how many pounds we found. Michael took a huge bag up to our friend Alissa Allen when they met up at the Brightenbush foray a few weeks later. I still have bags of H. regium all these years later and am so thankful Michael was there to identify this magical dye mushroom for me.