I must find this mushroom!

Glorious purple from Hapalopilus rutilans

I still find it hard to believe that this luxurious purple comes from a mushroom, Hapalopilus rutilans. This is a small, brown, unassuming shelf fungus found on birch trees, trees that don’t grow in our coastal rainforest—this dyepot was the result of a gift from Sweden.

I like to throw a handful of angelina, a sparkly synthetic fibre, into dyepots to see what colour it will pick up—it’s not always what I expect. (The angelina is sitting on the lighter bundle of roving, which came from the exhaust bath.)

The roving didn’t dye evenly, as I didn’t move it around much in the dyepot—the variation makes for some interesting spinning. I used a ratio of two parts mushrooms to one part fibre.

The mordants on the bundle of test strands, left to right: no mordant, alum, iron, and copper. The sample bits of fibre threaded onto the card, from top to bottom: alum first bath, angelina, alum exhaust bath, iron from a second cooking of the mushrooms.

The copper strand came out a rich, coppery brown. I have enough dried mushrooms for another dyepot, and I think I may have to do that one with a copper mordant.

A cousin to this mushroom,  H. nidulans, has been found in northern British Columbia, so I think a trip to the birch forests of the Cariboo would be in order later this year. Two dyepots are clearly not enough!


5 thoughts on “I must find this mushroom!”

  1. Now I’m wondering if that’s what’s growing on the old birch trunk still standing in my paddock – two huge specimens, but they would be old by now and probably not useful. If only I’d known! — going outside immediately to take a look.

      1. I did end up boiling the smallest, newest looking one and got brown water. But I think they’ve been there for a couple of years, even though I plant dye, mushroom species seem to be out of my understanding. Even the photos you showed look wildly different to me, so I bet some that are different look the same…

      2. Well, at least you tried! And I’d try again when you find some fresh mushrooms, just to make sure. You’re right – mushroom ID can be tricky at the best of times – lifelong learning at its finest.

  2. If youu really decide to come to the caribou, please let me knoe. Would you be available for a workshop? I can think of 5 or 10 people who would be interested in attending. Thanks for all of the fun learning,

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