Fall is Here, Rejoice

by Brady Raymond

West 9/18/16

Here on the west side of the Cascades things seem to be chugging along quite nicely so far this fall. Temperatures are steadily dropping and the rains are beginning their onslaught, to the chagrin of most but a welcome sign to our kind.  My Mother is in town and Erin and I thought we would take her out for the chance to look for some chanterelles, maybe some lobsters, and whatever else we could find.

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“This is our quarry, stay alert”  I told my Mom as we headed out on her first mushroom hunt in the PWN.

My Mom has been out to visit a few times now but she has never been down the Mountain Loop Highway.  Oops, I mean a secret road you didn’t hear about from me.  We have a few spots that always produce for us so long as conditions are right.  Everything looked good at our first stop, we got out and eagerly started looking.  I quickly spotted some Hydnellum aurantiacum, I wasn’t sure if Erin could dye with it but I know that toothed fungi are usually a good bet, so I collected them with my Mom and would ask Erin when we got back to the car (we have a new addition to the family, so one of us has to stay at the car while the others look).  She was excited when I showed her and thought they would produce a greenish gray tone, her memory turned out to be right, at least according to The Rainbow Beneath My Feet.  For those of you attending the Ben Woo Foray this October you’ll most likely get the results first hand if attending the dye workshop and I’m sure an article on the blog will follow soon, stay tuned.

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Car Prep for Mountain Excursions

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This road in the Entiat Mountains is out there.  We didn’t see many other people on this road.

by Brady Raymond

Heading out to the woods to look for some delicious mushrooms?  Bought yourself a sweet new ride five years ago, what could go wrong?  A dead battery at 5000ft. with no cell reception, night setting in and lows in the 30’s.  You don’t have blanket, you ate all your food and there is only one bottle of water left. You feel responsible for the two friends you took out hunting, neither of which has much if any experience in the woods.  They couldn’t tell you the difference between a Phaeolus schweinitzii and a Russell xerampelina let alone any of the cardinal directions.  You secretly hope their lack of skill in the backwoods is an advantage for you if things come down to cannibalism.

Truth is, you’ll only be out here one uncomfortable night. Your at a a popular trail head and more than likely you can get a jump sometime tomorrow morning, at least you have jumper cables.

It seems obvious to pack for unintended circumstances but I’ve been mushrooming with folks who don’t even bring knives and once someone forgot water.  Below is a list of things you should probably have in your car just in case.

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Slugs & Mushrooms

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Ariolimax columbianus, (Pacific Banana Slug)

by Brady Raymond

Let’s talk about Slugs.

Slugs?

Yeah, slugs.

Why?

‘Cause slugs are cool.

I guess I’m writing this article because slugs are cool, and a little gross by most human standards but so are mushrooms to many folks, but us mycophiles seem perfectly delighted by their curious ways. So why not give slugs a chance? Plus, I saw more slugs in the last couple of outings than I did mushrooms, and that’s ok because in my opinion these gooey gastropods are a good omen. When you see slugs it means conditions are progressing in a manor which will facilitate the growth of fungi and that condition, is moisture.

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Arion rufus, this species also occurs in a lighter brown, orange and a jet black variety.  Notice the pneumostome on the right side of the mantle, the hole by which the animal breathes.

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Mushroom of the Month, Pluteus ‘cervinus’ (Deer Mushroom)

Pluteus

by Danny Miller

I hope everybody had a wonderful summer. Usually there is not much happening in the Pacific Northwest mushroom-wise during this time, due to the long dry spells, but we had a good amount of rain in June! This led to a nice flush of some fall species of mushrooms in July, including a whole lot of chanterelles! I hope you were among the lucky ones to find some. If not, they and all your other favourites should be back later this month, with any luck!

So it’s almost time to think about wild mushrooms again! If you’ve read any books or taken any courses on identifying mushrooms, you’ve probably heard that although we typically think of a mushroom as something that has a cap, stem and gills, they actually come in many different shapes and forms (see May’s mushroom of the month, the Morel, for a good example). In fact, there are so many different kinds of them, that the “regular” gilled mushrooms are the hardest to identify. It is suggested that beginners learn some of the non-gilled mushrooms first. But if you do want to learn the gilled mushrooms, you’ll need help. There are two pieces of information you will almost always need to get – the spore print colour and the way the gills attach to the stem.

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Mushroom Dyes Part 2 – Dyeing Process

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Ramaria sp. found in the spring.

by Erin Raymond

In the last post, we talked about getting ready to dye with mushrooms.  Now that all the prep work is done, we can start getting into the actual dyeing process!  Remember, don’t be discouraged if your results are mixed, especially at first.  Many dye mushrooms are quite prolific and you can no doubt solicit some of your mushroom hunting friends to collect for you to bulk up your supplies.  It is also worth noting once again, as in the first article to label all dye mushrooms as such and keep away from edible mushrooms you may have stored.  It is also recommended that you use separate pots and grinders (coffee grinder) than what you would use for food.

Dried mushrooms are typically used because you can accurately measure the weight of the mushrooms. Fresh mushrooms can also be used, but it can be hard to reproduce results because you do not know the water content of the fresh mushrooms. Typically a 1:1 ratio of fiber to dried mushroom weight is used.  Some mushrooms require you to use more or less, but a 1:1 ratio is a good place to start. Continue reading

How fungi stage a deadly under-water attack on Aedes mosquito larvae

Insect pathogenic fungi can grow in liquid suspensions and on solid substrates, and their spores can attack and kill mosquitoes in aquatic or terrestrial environments. A new study demonstrates that the fungal attack of aquatic Aedes larvae is a particular rapid and effective way of mosquito control.

Source: How fungi stage a deadly under-water attack on Aedes mosquito larvae

Mushroom Dyes Part 1 – Getting Started

Yarn Drying

A variety of different colors can be derived from fungi.

by Erin Raymond

Throughout written history, humans have documented the use of plants, insects and lichens in the coloring of natural fibers. For whatever reason fungal dyes seem to be missing from the records of mankind, possibly lost in the many voluminous accounts of bygone times, not garnering the attention of translators, or maybe, being the knowledge of peoples with no written language at all, lost in the ether. It seems inconceivable that somewhere throughout time these secrets were not known by someone, yet culture, geography and time have no doubt played a roll in concealing this knowledge from the modern practitioner.

It wasn’t until the 1960’s that books were published, at least in the english language where we can begin to learn the ways of fugal dyes. It was Miriam C. Rice who’s teaching was the driving force in the use of fungi for dyeing, Here is a link to a short History of Mushroom Dyeing.

This, and upcoming dye posts, are a general overview of the dye process.  There are a number of excellent resources with more information that are listed at the end of this post.

Unless otherwise stated, these posts describe the process for wool yarn.  Different types of animal fibers can also be used.  I will go into these further in a later post.

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