A Zapotec Natural History, Part 2:
Data, Commentary, and Images in Digital Format


  1. Preface to the CD
  2. Illustrations and Tables from Part 1
  3. Background
  4. The Ethnoflora
  5. The Ethnofauna
  6. Fungi
  7. Plant Species Index
  8. English/Latin Name Index
  9. Spanish/Latin Name Index
  10. Zapotec/Latin Name Index
  11. Index of Images
  12. Index of Sounds

F. San Juan Gbëë Fungi

Note: Mold (biòo) is considered to be neither a fungus nor, in fact, alive at all.

Lifeform měy [`mushroom´]; hongo, mushroom; macrofungi

Special purpose intermediate měy-ncuàan [`mushroom´ + `poison´]

This category may include named folk generics, such as měy-guièdz [`mushroom´ + `skin sores´] Amanita muscaria, as well as unnamed inedible varieties of otherwise edible folk generics, such as měy-lân [`mushroom´ + `powdery´ or `wool<sp>´] Agaricus spp. and species otherwise recognized only as měy, or měy-X, where “X” is a productive descriptive qualifier, e.g., měy-mòrâd [`mushroom´ + `purple <Sp´], Russula sp.

ASCOMYCOTA: Ascomycetes, Xylariales, Xylariaceae

We have a collection of a species of Xylaria ^[[FunAscSpc1]]; it is recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used.

Pyrenomycetes, Sphaeriales, Hypomycetaceae

1) měy-guìin [`mushroom´ + `chili pepper´], Hypomyces lactifluorum (Schweinitz) Tulasne ^[[FunHypLac2]]: hongo de chile, lobster mushroom: a parasitic fungus that “takes over” a terrestrial mushroom host such as Russula ^[[FunRusSpc2]] or Lactarius spp., transforming its perceived identity; the parasite and host together are so-called and considered edible and choice, the parasite is described as duro (it forms a “firm, crisp, fruiting body” [http://www.evergreen.edu/mushrooms/introm/s11.htm]); harvested in August and September; eaten with a yellow mole sauce (amarillito).

BASIDIOMYCOTA: Basidiomycetes, Tremellales, Exidiaceae

We have a collection of what may be a species of Tremellodendron, a “false coral mushroom”; it is recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used.

Homobasidiomycetes, Auriculariales, Auriculariaceae

We have one collection of Auricularia sp. ^[[FunAurSpc1]]; it is recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used.

Gasteromycetes, Lycoperdales, Geastraceae and Lycoperdaceae

2) měy-x-quìdiè [`mushroom´ + `ash´] (= měy-gòx [`mushroom´ + `smoke´], měy-dòop [`mushroom´ + `fart´], měy-ló-rîd [`mushroom´ + `on wounds<sp>´], měy-càfê [`mushroom´ + `coffee-colored<sp>´], měy-guièts [`mushroom´ + `spiny´]), Lycoperdon perlatum Persoon ^[[FunLycPer1]], Lycoperdon umbrinus Persoon, Lycoperdon sp. ^[[FunLycSpc1]], Morganella (Lycoperdon) pyriformis (Schaeffer: Persoon) Kreisel & D. Krüger, pedo de lobo, puffball, and Astraeus hygrometricus (Pers.) Morgan, hygroscopic earthstar: the fruiting bodies of Lycoperdon are roughly spherical and 2-3 cm in diameter; when mature, if stepped on, they disgorge clouds of minute brownish spores, hence the nomenclatural references to `ash´, `smoke´, and `coffee-colored´; some have conspicuous warty or spiny bumps on the surface, in which case the attributive `spiny´ is appropriate; the earthstar is a puffball with a leathery skin that splits open in a star pattern to release its spores; inedible but medicinal: the spores are applied to wounds to stanch the flow of blood and to disinfect the wound.


3) x-chòb-guièt-lí [poss + `tenate´ + `Virgin Mary´](= x-chòb-zhí-ndǐin [`his tenate´ + `Uncle Bernard´]), Cyathus aff. striatus (Hudson) Hoffm. ^[[FunCyaStr2]], ribbed splashcup, a bird´s-nest fungus: the spore capsules look like tiny bird´s eggs in a cup; raindrops rupture these capsules, dispersing the spores; it is said in San Juan that if there are just a few such “eggs” there will be little rain; a tenate is a tortilla basket.

Hymenonycetes, Agaricales, Agaricaceae

4) měy-lân [`mushroom´ + `powdery´] (= měy-nquǐts `mushroom´ + `white´), Agaricus campestris Linnaeus: Fries, Agaricus sylvaticus Schaeff. ex Secr. ^[[FunAgaSyl1]], field mushroom: common after the first rains; the prototypical species are edible; however, they are carefully distinguished from poisonous species of Agaricus that go by the same name. Some claim that the poisonous species may be distinguished by rose-colored gills. However, this is apparently also a characteristic of many edible Agaricus species. We have one collection of Chlorophyllum molybdites (G. Mey.) Massee ^[[FunChlMol1]], a poisonous species of this family; it is recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used.


Several highly poisonous species of Amanita are considered to be měy-ncuàan [`mushroom´ + `poison´], such as Amanita cf. pantherina (DC. ex Fr.) Krombh. ^[[FunAmaPan1]] and Amanita virosa ^[[FunAmaVir1]].

5) měy-yùp [`mushroom´ + Y], Amanita caesarea (Scop.: Fr.) Pers. ^[[FunAmaCes1]], ^[[FunAmaCes2]], ^[[FunAmaCes3]], ^[[PeoSanVer1]], seta comestible, edible amanita: edible and choice; eaten, but must be distinguished with care from other Amanita species, most of which are poisonous. Related species such as Amanita flaviconia ^[[FunAmaFla1]], Amanita gemmata, and Amanita rubescens ^[[FunAmaRub1]], may be distinguished as xín-měy-yùp [`relative [of]´ + `Amanita caesarea´]; these are not considered edible.

6) měy-guièdz [`mushroom´ + `skin sores´], Amanita muscaria (Fries) S. F. Gray ^[[FunAmaMus1]], fly amanita: the name is descriptive of the warty patches on the reddish cap which are remnants of the white veil characteristic of the genus; considered to be poisonous, hence may be referred to as měy-ncuàan [`mushroom´ + `poison´], a special-purpose intermediate category.


Species of three genera of this family were collected in San Juan: Coprinus meratus, Lacrymaria sp., Psathyrella sp.; they are recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used; all are small, fragile mushrooms, mostly growing on dung; Coprinus species are known as ink-caps, as they decompose into a black inky mass.

7) měy-x-quiě-bûrr [`mushroom´ + poss. + `dung´ + `donkey´, literally `donkey-dung mushroom´] (= měy-x-guiě-ngǒn [`mushroom´ + poss. + `dung´ + `ox´]): this term is applied to a wide variety of small saprophytic mushrooms associated with dung; in fact, several distinct categories are recognized on the basis of the type of dung each favors; at present we have not sorted out these associations; inedible.

8) měy-x-quiě-mæ̀cw-xǐil [`mushroom´ + poss. + `dung´ + `sheep´, literally, `cotton dog´s dung´].

9) měy-x-quiě-mdzìn [`mushroom´ + poss. + `dung´ + `white-tailed deer´, literally `white-tailed deer´s dung´]: the fact that a mushroom associated with a native mammal species is recognized suggests that the recognition of this relationship of fungus and dung is pre-colonial.


One or more species of the large and complex genus Cortinarius were collected in San Juan; they are recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used.


We have a collection of a Nolanea species and others of this family not yet identified to genus; they are recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used.


We have collections of Camarophyllus species and of Hygrocybe nigrescens (Quél.) Kühner ^[[FunHygNig1]], [[FunHygNig2]] and Hygrocybe cf. psittacina (Schaeff.: Fries) Kumm. ^[[FunHygPsi1]]; they are recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used.


We have collections of Laccaria amethystea (Bulliard: Mérat) Murrill, Laccaria bicolor (Maire) Orton, and Laccaria laccata (Scopoli: Fries) Cooke ^[[FunLacLac1]]; they are small but colorful mushrooms recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used; however, one, Laccaria laccata, was named měy-yâg-zhòg `mushroom of Quercus crassifolia´.


We have a collection of Lepiota aff. clypeolaria (Bulliard: Fries) Kummer; it is recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used.


We have a collection of Neolentinus aff. lepideus (Fries: Fries) Redhead & Ginns, “train wrecker,” and several additional collections not yet identified to species ^[[FunNeoSpc1]]; these grow on decaying wood; they are recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used.

10) měy-guièr [`mshroom´ + `pine tree´] is either Pleurotis cf. ostreatus (Fries) Kummer, nanacate < Nahuatl nanacatl `mushroom´, “oyster mushroom,”, or Gomphidius sp. of the Gomphidiaceae: we have not yet collected this taxon in San Juan, but it is described as a mushroom found in the earth beneath or on rotting trunks of pine trees; it is harvested very early, in April and May, which suggests Pleurotis; it is described as red, which suggests Gomphidius; it is cooked with a mole sauce.


We have collections of Psilocybe sp. ^[[FunPsiSpc1]] and Stropharia aff. semiglobata (Batsch: Fries) Quélet, “dung roundhead”; they are recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used; we have no evidence that the psychoactive powers of Psilocybe mushrooms are recognized or exploited in San Juan, though their use in curing among the Mazatec is, of course, well known.


We have collections of at least six species of as many genera of this large and diverse family: Clitocybe gibba (Persoon: Fries) Kummer ^[[FunCliGib1]], Collybia aff. dryophila (Bulliard: Fries) Kummer, Lyophyllum sp., Marasmius sp., Neomatoloma fasciculare, and Tricholoma sp.; all are recognized as měy but only the Tricholoma (měy-mdzìn `deer mushroom´) is specifically named and considered edible; Neomatoloma fasciculare was called měy-nguěts `yellow mushroom´, likely a nonce form.

11) měy-mdzìn [`mushroom´ + `white-tailed deer´] Tricholoma sp. ^[[FunTriSpc1]], ^[[FunTriSpc2]], a local name for the famed matsutake: considered edible but not especially sought after.


We have collections of at least two species of as many genera: Mycena sp. ^[[FunMycSpc1]], and Xeromphalina tenuipes; both are recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used.

Aphyllophorales, Cantharellaceae

We have a collection of Cantharellus cibarius Schweinitz, the “red chantrelle” ^[[FunCanSpc1]]; chantrelles are widespread, edible and choice, but our collections are recognized only as měy , not otherwise named nor used.

Clavariaceae and Ramariaceae

12) měy-dùuzh [`mushroom´ + `string bean´], prototypically Ramaria botrytis (Pers.: Fries) Ricken; coral mushrooms: Ramaria flava (Fries) Quélet, Ramaria aff. formosa (Pers.: Fries) Quélet, Ramaria spp. complex (Fries) Quélet ^[[FunRamSpp1]] ^[[FunRamCpx1]], and an unidentified species of Clavariaceae are considered xín-měy-dùuzh; many Ramaria species are edible, but tough, though Ramaria formosa is poisonous, a violent laxative (Schalkwijk-Barendsen 1991:363); the Zapotec name is appropriately descriptive of all, but only the prototype, which is white, is considered to be edible.


13) měy-còlìflôr [`mushroom´ + `cauliflower<sp>´], Hydnum repandum Linnaeus: Fries ^[[FunHydSpc1]]: edible.

Polyporales, Ganodermataceae and Polyporaceae

14) měy-yâg [`mushroom´ + `tree, wood´], Polyporaceae in general: we have collections of at least ten species of eight genera of these two families ^[[FunAphSpc1]]; these are Ganoderma sp. ^[[FunGanSpc1]] of the Ganodermataceae and from the Polyporaceae: Fomitopsis pinicola (Schwartz: Fries) Karst., Gloeophyllum mexicanum (Mont.) Ryvarden, Polyporus terrestris (Pers.) Pers., Polyporus tuberaster Jacquin: Fries, Stereum ostrea (Blume & T. Nees) Fries, Trametes hirsuta (Wulfen) Pilát, Trametes versicolor (L. Fr.) Quél. ^[[FunTraVer1]], Trichaptum abietinum (Dicks.) Ryvarden, and Trichaptum biforme (Fries) Ryvarden: most if not all are named měy-yâg, and some are further specified by reference to the species of tree with which they are characteristically associated, such as měy-yâg-biâap `rotten wood mushroom´, měy-yâg-xìid `mushroom of Quercus castanea`, měy-yâg-lbìis `mushroom of Quercus laurina´, měy-yâg-zhòg `mushroom of Quercus crassifolia´ [cf. Laccaria laccata]; one edible species of the Polyporaceae is distinguished nomenclaturally as měy-yù `earth mushroom´ (see below).

15) měy-yù [`mushroom´ + `earth´] Polyporus tuberaster Jacquin ^[[FunPolTub1]]: Fries: coffee-colored; harvested in June and July; edible, eaten in tamales.


We have a collection of Schizophyllum commune Fries, “splitgill”: it is recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used.


We have a collection of Phellodon sp.; it is recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used.

Boletales, Boletaceae

16) měy-guièt-xtîl [`mushroom´ + `bread´, literally `Castillian tortilla´] Boletus edulis Builliard: Fries, the “king bolete,” and Boletus aff. pinicola (Vittad.) A. Venturi ^[[FunBolPin1]], boleto de pino: these two species are edible and choice, but one needs to carefully distinguish the edible species of this genus from the several poisonous ones; in San Juan the poisonous boletes are distinguished by first peeling back the cap, then watching to see if the flesh turns green; this is precisely the technique recommended in the scientific literature (Schalkwijk-Barendsen 1991:194).

17) měy-nrùdz [`mushroom´ + `smooth, slippery´], Suillus sp., “sticky bolete”: each species is associated with a specific conifer; all are edible, but not choice.


We have one collection of an unidentified genus of this family; it is recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used.


We have collections of Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca (Fries) Schroeter ^[[FunHygAur1]], “false chanterelle”; it is recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used.

Russulales, Russulaceae

We have collections of at least seven species of two genera of this family: Lactarius subdulcis (Fries) S. F. Gray [“sweetish milkcap”; edible; under hardwoods], Lactarius torminosus (Schaeff.) Gray [“woolly milkcap”; poisonous; under birch], Lactarius volemus (Fr.) Fr. ^[[FunLacVol1]], Russula brevipes Peck ^[[FunRusBre1]], Russula emetica (Schaeffer: Fries) S. F. Gray [“the sickener”; poisonous; under spruce] ^[[FunRusEme1]], ^[[FunRusEme2]], Russula aff. lutea (Huds.) Fries, Russula xerampelina (Schaeff.) Fries [“fishy-smelling russula”; under spruce]; they are recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used.

Ustilaginomycetes, Ustilaginales, Ustilaginaceae

18) méy-guièl [`mushroom´ + `maize plant´] Ustilago maydis (DC.) Corda, cuitlacoche, corn smut: edible; parasitic on green maize cobs, but considered a delicacy in its own right.

MYXOMYCOTA: Myxomycetes, slime mold

We have one collection of an unidentified species of slime mold ^[[FunMyxSpc1]]; it is recognized as měy but not otherwise named nor used.