Nature Bulletin No. 34 September 29, 1945
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F. Smith, President
Roberts Mann, Supt. of Conservation
The Jimmies are here! Sunday, September 23, the first bunch was found
at the base of an oak stump in one of the Palos preserves. The Jimmie,
so named because it appears about September 28, the name-day of St.
James, called Vaclavky in the Czech language, is one of the finest
edible mushrooms. When it comes, and how abundant they are each
year, depends upon moisture and temperature conditions. The moon has
nothing to do with it, but you can't convince the Bohemians of that.
It grows in clusters at the base of dead oak trees or on their stumps, and
out along their decaying root systems. It is the fruit of the shoe-string
fungus that spreads underground along the roots of dead, unhealthy or
weathered trees and on up the t rungs beneath their outer bark.
Its Latin name is Armillaria melba. "Melees' means honey, and the
Jimmie is also commonly known as the "honey" mushroom, It has the
distinctive honey color. Because it is very solid and firm, and has a
delicious flavor, it is preferred by most mushroom hunters --
particularly the Bohemians -- above all the hundred or more edible
species commonly found in the Chicago region.
They can be canned in salt brine, or dried and hung in bags in an attic
for future use, They can be broiled, fried in butter, cooked with eggs or
in soup, and the immature ones -- "buttons" -- are superior to the
commercial varieties when cooked with a steak.
So when you see vacant cars parked along the highways these days, you
will know that the occupants are out slowly searching the woods for
Jimmies, carrying a basket or sack and a long sharp knife, It's a
fascinating pastime. It' s free.
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Update: June 2012