It may have the somewhat dry sounding scientific name of Entoloma hochstetteri, but this gorgeous blue mushroom looks like it would be better called the ‘Smurf mushroom’ or have a name that is something to do with fairies. Nature has managed to surprise us once again, as it does so often.
These mushrooms are found among tree ferns – a perfect place for fairies to dance and play – and in mossy areas. Their brilliant blue color comes from azulene, a pigment that has been found in guaiac wood oil, mushrooms and some marine species. In this mushroom, the color is particularly deep and electric – compared, for example, with the color of the American Lactarius indigo.
The mushroom has been featured as one of six native fungi on stamps that came out in 2002 in New Zealand, and on the reverse of the country’s 50 dollar bill, issued in 1990. No one knows if it is poisonous or not. It’s unusual that it has not been tested, but since other mushroom species can be poisonous, we would suggest that it is a bad idea to try it for yourself. When you come across one, take a good look for little fairy folk or Smurfs using it as an umbrella in the rain or as a maypole to dance around.