Researchers have found a way to make jet fuel from a common black fungus found in decaying leaves, soil and rotting fruit. The researchers hope the process leads to economically viable production of aviation biofuels in the next five years.
by Brady Raymond
photos by Paul Hill. View all of Paul’s burn photos at Seattle Roamer and don’t forget to check out his other mushroom photo albums.
An uneasy feeling sets in walking around a landscape like this, the stark desolation envelops you, cutting through to the bone. It is a reminder of the inevitable, the reality of our own mortality. After walking around a few minutes you find your first mushroom, not a morel but a mushroom none the less. As you are examining it your hunting buddy shouts “I found one!” you toss your find aside and start to make your way in their direction. They shout again “Got two, three, they’re everywhere!” You tell yourself to slow down, you look up, take a deep breath and look back down. “They’re everywhere!” you shout. For the next couple of hours you fill your basket as giddy laughs echo through the forest. This is burn morel hunting, you’ve heard the stories and now you’re doing it.
This is the fourth article in a 4-part series on the fungi of Hawai’i from a Pacific Northwest perspective. This article touches on the historical links between Hawai’i and the Pacific Northwest, the environmental history of Hawai’i, and briefly, hallucinogenic fungi.
Hawai’i’s link to the Pacific Northwest begins with the Western explorers of the 18th Century. On Captain James Cook’s third expedition in 1778, he and his crew became the first documented Europeans to visit the islands. That same year he would visit the coast of the Pacific Northwest, naming Cape Foulweather in Oregon before heading north and mapping the coastline between Nootka Sound and the Bering Straight. After being killed in Hawai’i the following year, one of Cook’s crewmembers, George Vancouver, would revisit the islands and Pacific Northwest on his own expedition from 1791-1795.
Unlike Cook who missed the Straight of Juan de Fuca, Vancouver entered and mapped the Puget Sound while giving Western names to the landmarks of the region: Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, and Puget Sound itself. Vancouver’s Scottish surgeon and naturalist, Archibald Menzies, described many species from the expedition, including Pseudotsuga menziesii, the iconic tree of the Pacific Northwest: Douglas fir. Continue reading
Somewhere in the woods
The last morel stands proudly
Its function achieved
by Brady Raymond
Has the last morel of the 2016 season in Washington been picked? Maybe, but whenever that mushroom is or was plucked from the ground there will be somewhere in the woods “the last morel standing” unfound by man. It would be interesting to know who does pick that last found morel, or at least the last edible one. I would imagine that some old mealy dried out morels could be stumbled upon in the weeks to come though. I picture these fading fungi being found on the sun baked ground in one of the burns, a shell of its former glory.
Do you like eating matsutake?
by Brady Raymond
Gearing up is all part of the fun right? It’s also the smart thing to do if you have any common sense. Aside from the random mushroom find, you usually have to put some thought and at least a little bit of physical effort into the endeavor. You don’t want to get out to the woods and find the mother load only to realize you forgot a knife, and yes I have seen this happen to people, no knife. “What are they thinking” I always wonder to myself, I carry a knife ninety percent of the time I do anything, and if it’s not on me it’s almost always within reach. Well, maybe they didn’t have a handy article like this to read, hence I’m writing it.
Insider tip, carry a knife, always. The next logical thing would be something to contain your quarry e.g. basket, or sack of some sort (no plastic bags). You can clean up pretty good with these couple of items alone but for longer treks it is advisable to pack a bit more.
The more than 90,000 known species of fungi may owe their abilities to spread and even cause disease to an ancient virus that hijacked their cell division machinery, researchers report. Over a billion years ago, a viral protein invaded the fungal genome, generating a family of proteins that now play key roles in fungal growth. The research could point to new antifungals that inhibit cell division in fungi but not in their plant or animal hosts.