The jumbie umbrella or jumbie parasol is the West Indian name for any wild mushroom. They can be seen in abundance on mornings after heavy rainfall and spring up in damp shaded places. These fungi are not considered to be food.
A jumbie is defined as a spirit of a dead person, typically an evil one. As a result there was never any real interest to finding out which of these jumbie umbrellas were edible and which were not. The picking of wild mushrooms is not something practised in Trinidad and Tobago or the Caribbean. With a name like jumbie attached to mushrooms it is understandable why no one knows if they are edible. The old folks always cautioned against eating or touching them.
Why are they called jumbie umbrella
No one can say exactly why these fungi are locally referred to as jumbie umbrella. This however never stopped people from speculating. It was suggested that jumbies used them to shelter the rain. This explains the umbrella’s shape and size. Jumbie umbrellas come in all shapes and sizes. They are inappropriate for humans and they appear only after a night of heavy rainfall. That would be the time presumably when a jumbie would need an umbrella.
Generally, the name refers to local fungi and not a particular species. Jumbie umbrella can range in size from the very small to the enormous. There are some very exotic varieties as well. They can also vary in appearance from the drab to beautiful.
If you are in the mood to dine on mushrooms we would advise that you visit the local grocery store. The legendary jumbie umbrella still remains a mystery and would stay in our gardens and not on our plates.
December 2016 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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