Don't confuse this mushroom with the poisonous Jack O'Lantern, a larger orange mushroom with gills crowded together; or the hallucinogenic big laughing gym (Gymnopilus spectabilis), another orange mushroom lacking the hair on the cap.
This is the first wild mushroom I identified on my own and ate, after finding bagfuls on and around a stump in Forest Park, Queens, NY in 1981. It made me quite nervous, checking the features in mushroom guides over and over again, before I finally cooked it. I was quite happy to wake up alive the next morning!
Sauté these excellent mushrooms, pickle them, or include them in soups, stews, or casseroles. They have a rich, penetrating flavor.
The stems are somewhat gritty, so some people discard them, but they're fine in soups and sauces that you puree after cooking.
Cook this mushroom at least 15 minutes or you may become sick, and eat a small amount the first time they don't agree with everyone.
The closest commercial substitute is the shiitake mushroom.