‘Tis The Season

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Erin’s first morel of the year.

by Brady Raymond

They’re Here! I’m happy to report, as some of you probably already know the 2016 Morel season is on. The wife and I headed out April 17th on Highway 2 with the hopes of finding morels. We knew we were taking a chance, heading over Stevens Pass and hanging around 2100ft. in elevation. The temperature seemed right, and we had loads of snow this winter, which means moisture levels had to be at least better than last year, our moral for morels was indeed high. Continue reading

Learning to identify candy caps

Our mushroom of the month this April is the candy cap! Danny Miller has already written an extensive post full of interesting facts and useful info for identifying. Here, I just wanted to share a couple of images that should make identifying a lot easier. As Danny mentioned, there are a lot of candy cap look-alikes in the PNW, and it can be hard to tell them apart at first. You can always take them home and dry them to confirm a positive ID, but that can be time consuming, and you might end up with a bag full of duds.

One macroscopic characteristic you really want to pay attention to is the latex, the liquid substance that oozes from any lactarius when it is broken. Candy caps have a murky clear latex, kind of like saliva or another bodily fluid. The most common look-alikes, in contrast, have a much whiter, more opaque latex. Take a look:

(These photos came from PSMS member Josh Powell (left) and Tim Sage via mushroom observer (right))

As you start to find candy caps with any regularity, you’ll get really good at identifying the real thing, even without the latex. Some of us (including me!) can actually distinguish their smell when they’re fresh!

Finally, I’d like to leave you with one last tip: dry your candy caps SLOWLY. For most mushrooms, it doesn’t matter a whole lot how quickly you dry them, or the temperature you use, but I’ve found that candy caps that are dried too quickly don’t develop as strong a smell, and often have a much stronger mushroom-y flavor instead.

Happy hunting! (or rather — happy future hunting. we still have several months before the season starts!)

This Month in PSMS History…

by Danny Miller

Our very first Spore Prints was published in April, way back in 1964! Back then it was not called Spore Prints yet, it was simply PSMS Bulletin #1. Meetings back then were held at the Pacific Science Center, and the first meeting’s topic was a talk by UW Mycologist and PSMS co-founder Dr. Daniel Stuntz, entitled “Painless Taxonomy or How Those Mushrooms Got Those Godawful Names”. I have a feeling that would still be a popular talk today.

Our very first president was Benjamin Woo, an avid Russula collector who contributed a whole lot to our understanding of that genus. Ben Woo’s Russulas, in fact, are going to be the topic of our May monthly meeting! Also, our big Fall Foray this year, a joint venture with other clubs, is going to be named after him. More exciting news to come.

Would you like to read the very first Spore Prints? Did you know that all 522 issues are available online at www.psms.org/sporeprints.php? And that the issues are all searchable? This is a great resource for mycological research. And here’s a question to get you started in your research… if there are 522 issues, why is the latest bulletin only numbered #521?

Making batteries with portabella mushrooms: Porous structure of portabella mushrooms is key to making efficient batteries that could power cell phones, electric vehicles

Can portabella mushrooms stop cell phone batteries from degrading over time? Researchers think so. They have created a new type of lithium-ion battery anode using portabella mushrooms, which are inexpensive, environmentally friendly and easy to produce.

Read more… Making batteries with portabella mushrooms: Porous structure of portabella mushrooms is key to making efficient batteries that could power cell phones, electric vehicles

Dispatches From Hawai’i: Edibles in Hawai’i

This is the second in a 4-part series on the fungi of Hawai’i from a Pacific Northwest perspective.  This article discusses foraging and edible fungi in Hawai’i. 

Foraging fungi for the table in Hawai’i is a challenge.  Unlike the Pacific Northwest where finding pounds and pounds of a variety of choice edibles is often not a problem, especially in the fall, this simply won’t happen in Hawai’i.  While Hawai’i is missing some of the most conspicuous and desirable ectomycorrhizal species such as porcini and chanterelles, there are a few good edibles, and if you are lucky, you may even get to see an elusive Hawaiian morel.

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Mushroom of the Month – Lactarius rubidus

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by Danny Miller

Welcome to the Mushroom of the Month, a new regular feature showcasing a different interesting Pacific Northwest mushroom every month. Our first mushroom has everything you might want: an unusual species, lots of tantalizing look-alikes, relatively common occurance and a delicious reward for finding it.

The most interesting thing about this mushroom can be told by its common name, the “Candy Cap”. It is a dessert mushroom. That’s right, you don’t use this one to make savory dishes or flavour your main course, you eat it for dessert! When it is dried, its odor and flavor become that of maple syrup. Unfortunately, that only happens when it is dried which means when you find it fresh, you usually won’t be able to tell that you found it (although some large patches create a vague maple odor in the air). Sure enough, at least a half dozen species look very much like it. But don’t despair, there are ways for a clever sleuth to figure it out.
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