What are the benefits of Sordid Blewit?
The benefits of Sordid Blewit (Lepista sordida) are:
- agents of protection against cancer of the larynx
- a potential treatment against leukemia
- in possession of ‘fairy chemicals’ that increase plant yields such as rice by 25% and potato by up to 40%
- a cold weather mushroom providing food and medicine well into November and December in some climates
Lepista sordid is commonly known as the Sordid Blewit, Hed Chong Kho Lek (small violet mushroom) in Thailand (Thangbai et al, 1), Bleu Foot Mushroom, the Flesh-Brown Blewit (Acharya et al, 1) and sometimes the Dirty Blewit. It’s Latin name means Foul Goblet, but this mushroom is anything but foul. It is a level dapple of lilac among fall leaves, fruiting in the autumn and winter months, it has even been found to be cold hardy in the autumn as far north as New Brunswick, Canada (Malloch, 2020). It has a perfumed smell that comes through when cooked, and a lilac cap, gills, and stem when it is young, yet turning brown as it ages. It offers a pale cream to pink spore print. A spore print is a good idea, because this mycoform does have a poisonous lookalike, the Lilac Fibercap (Inocybe geophylla var. lilacina), which offers a dull brown spore print (Foraging Course Company, 2020).
Lepista sordida used to reside in the family of Clitocybe, and indeed one can still find records where it is listed as such or where it is listed as Lepista and the taxonomist is threatening to put it back in Clitocybe. The mycologist Rolf Singer reclassified our mycoform as Lepista in 1949 (First Nature, 2020) and it has been in contention ever since. One researcher in a 1974 paper described his use of the ‘heated cotton blue technique’ to dye the spores and spore walls of L. sordida and compare the results to Clitocybes and others in the Lepista genus. If you are not familiar with the ‘Lactophenol cotton blue technique, microbeonline.com has an informative page and the below youtube video gives a visual overview of the process.
The spore wall and spores of Lepista are cyanophillic (absorbs blue dye), whereas the spores for clitocybe varieties are more cyanophobic. Aside from a genetic study to reveal further differences, the observations from this research help keep L. sordida in its current place (Harmaja, 82-83). They have been found to be rich in carbohydrates, essential amino acids, dietary fiber, anti-aging and free radical scavenging components. They possess water soluble polysaccharides that have been proven to suppress and kill laryngocarcinoma (cancer of the larynx) cells and produce two diterpenes that are an effective treatment for leukemia (Graf et al, 599). While research is not complete by any means, investigations into L. sordida’s secondary metabolites find them to be more plentiful than in Splitgill, Oyster, or even Shiitake Mushrooms – no easy feat (Acharya et al, 1-4).
The Sordid Blewit is a ‘fairy-ring’ mushroom, meaning it fruits in open spaces in ever larger circles and does not require a relationship with trees to flourish. Fairy rings have been a subject of scientific interest since at least 1675 and a powerful feature of folklore the world over for much longer. Fairy rings can call up feelings of mystic elation or dread, depending on the traditions you have been raised with. When our Foul Goblet forms its fairy rings, turf and other plants inside of the ring are noticeably green and enjoying more vigorous growth. This enhanced plant-growth is due to what are fancifully called ‘fairy chemicals’ contained in the mycelium and fruiting body of the fungus. Two fairy chemicals isolated from L. sordida are known as AHX (2-azahypoxanthine) and AOH (2-aza-8-oxohypoxanthine) (Choi et al, 1373). AHX in particular, is a very active molecule in Lepista sordida. It has been shown to elongate roots and enhance the growth of seedlings of rice, potato, wheat (Takano et al, 1) and lettuce crops. The fairy chemical AHX also emboldens plants against temperature extremes outside of their normal range and even the presence of salt or brackish water in their environment. Rice yields were increased by 26% and potato yields by an astounding 41% (Choi et al, 1376). The research shows that all plant types tested increased their yields and their overall growth was enhanced by AHX, indicating that inoculation of agricultural fields, permaculture operations, and gardens with Lepista sordida can increase food harvests to a significant degree.
When cultivating Lepista sordida from a live liquid culture it is best to use an all-in-one manure based grow bag. If starting from spores or a portion of a foraged mushroom, potato dextrose agar has been found to result in tenacious mycelium, even forming pins while still on the plate. Another study cites Yeast Malt Extract with a pH of 6.3 and a temperature of around 77 degrees as being optimum (Thangbai et al, 1). This was for a wild variety of L. sordida found in Thailand, however, which might have bearing on the higher temperature for cultivation.
As has been mentioned, the Bleu Foot Mushroom prefers cooler weather, so cultivating in a basement or in an uninsulated out building or shed is certainly not out of the question. Supplementing mycelial growth with amylose, mannose, and galactan has proven to improve performance in the lab (Terashima and Fujiie, 370). It was found to prefer a spawn substrate of sorghum and a compost substrate enriched with chicken manure and dried straw or a similar straw/manure based substrate [https://www.out-grow.com/50-50-horse-manure-and-straw-mix-mushroom-substrate] (Thangbai et al, 11).
- Acharya K, Ghosh S, Biswas R (2019) Chemical composition and bioactivity of methanolic extract obtained from Lepista sordida. Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. (55) pp 1-8
- Choi J H, Fushimi K, Abe N, Tanaka H, Maeda S, Morita A, Hara M, Motohashi R, Matsunaga J, Eguchi Y, Ishigaki N, Hashizume D, Koshino H, Kawagishi H (2010) Disclosure of the “Fairy” of Fairy-Ring-Forming Fungus Lepista sordida. Chembiochem : a European journal of chemical biology (11) pp 1373-1377
- El-Fallal A A, El-Sayed A K A, and El-Gharabawy H M (2017) First record of Lepista sordida (Schuman) Singer in Eastern North Africa. The 7th Inter. Conf.”Plant & Microbial Biotech. & their Role in the Development of the Society”pp.111 -118
- First Nature (2020) Lepista sordida (Sowerby) Pat. Retrieved from https://www.first-nature.com/fungi/lepista-sordida.php
- The Foraging Course Company (2020) Sordid Blewit – Lepista sordida. Retrieved from https://www.foragingcoursecompany.co.uk/foraging-guide-sordid-blewit
- Graf L V, Schadeck J G, Donatti L, Buchi D F (2008) Morphological and Cytochemical Characterization of Spores and Gills of Lepista sordida (Fungi: Basidiomycota). Brazilian Journal of Microbiology (39) pp 599-601
- Harmaja H (1974) A revision of the generic limit between Clitocybe and Lepista. pp 1-11.
- Malloch D (2020) Discussion of Lepista sordida. New Brunswick Museum. Retrieved from http://website.nbm-mnb.ca/mycologywebpages/essaysonfungi/Species/Lepista_sordidaDiscussion.html
- Takano T, Yamamoto N, Suzuki T, Dohra H, Choi J H, Terashima Y, Yokoyama K, Kawagishi H, and Yano K (2019) Genome sequence analysis of the fairy ring-forming fungus Lepista sordia and gene candidates for interaction with plants. Nature (9, 5888) pp 1-8
- Terashima Y and Fujiie A (2007) Comparison of conditions for mycelial growth of Lepista sordida causing fairy rings on Zoysia matrella turf to those on Agrostis palustris turf. Mycoscience (48) pp 365-372
- Thangbai B, Wisstein K, Richter C, Miller S L, Hyde K D, Thongklang N, Klomklung N, Chukeatirote E, and Stadler M (2017) Successful cultivation of a valuable wild strain of Lepista sordida from Thailand. Mycological Progress (16,4) pp 1-24