Mushroom of the Month, Hygrocybe ‘conica’ (witch’s waxy cap)


by Danny Miller

Just in time for Hallowe’en but a day early for the November mushroom of the month, we have the classic Hallowe’en mushroom – Hygrocybe ‘conica’, the witch’s hat. I thought it would be fun to follow up last month’s colourful Leptonias with my other favourite group of colourful mushrooms., the waxy caps. Just like in Leptonia, there is something extra magical about these colourful little beauties. Not only do different species come in different bright colours like red, orange, yellow, pink, green and blue, but the texture is often like a fake mushroom made out of wax. And you will soon have success if go looking for them, as they can be very common and are much easier to find than Leptonia.

Of the dozens of common colourful waxy caps around here, I want to talk in particular about Hygrocybe ‘conica’ (perhaps more accurately called Hygrocybe singeri). Not only is it a bright red-orange-yellow that looks like it is made of wax, it is the only one that will turn black after it is touched. Wait long enough, and it might turn entirely black! Plus, it has one of the most sharply pointed caps, like a witch’s hat. This definitely qualifies it for the nickname of Hallowe’en mushroom. And when are you most likely to find it? You guessed it… right around Hallowe’en!

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Our 2016 Annual Fall Wild Mushroom Exhibit will be on October 29th and 30th. For the second year the show will be held in the cafeteria at Bellevue College, 3000 Landerholm Circle, Bellevue, WA 98007. This location is a large venue for our event, abundant free parking, and all of the exhibit is under one roof on one level! Bellevue College is close to and is easily accessible from I-90 and does not require a toll going over the I-90 Bridge from Seattle. It is also well serviced by Metro for people who prefer to ride the bus.

The exhibit will be open to the public on:

Saturday, Oct 29th: Noon – 7PM
Sunday, Oct 30th: 10AM – 5PM.

Admission fees for this event are:
Adults: $10
Full time students (with IDs): $5
Children 12 and under: free.
Tickets will be pre-sold online on our website at starting Oct 1st.

Mushroom Dyes 3- Experimenting


by Erin Raymond

Once you are comfortable with the dye process, starting to play around with changing colors is really fun and adds a whole new level of excitement when dyeing with mushrooms.  Adjusting your mushroom dyes is most commonly achieved by altering the pH.  This can be done directly in the simmering dye bath or after in a separate bath, in which case no simmering is needed.  To do this, you will need pH paper (I got mine on Amazon) and something to make your dye more alkaline or acidic.  To increase the pH, I use washing soda and to decrease the pH, I use white vinegar.  Ammonia can also be used to make an alkaline bath, but you need to be sure not to breathe in any of the vapors and the dye bath tends to become more neutral faster than with washing soda.  When using washing soda, be sure to only add 1/8th tsp at a time, checking the resulting pH.

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Rozites (Cortanarius) caperata or the Gypsy Mushroom.  Although edible, caution is urged with this rusty-brown spored mushroom as it superficially resembles Amanita, a genus which contains some of the deadliest species of mushrooms.  When in doubt, throw it out.


 Gypsy Mushroom, spore print

by Brady Raymond

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Things couldn’t be better if you like spending your free time trudging up and down mountains, wrestling your way through tangles and don’t mind getting a little wet.  It’s all part of the fun, and it’s all part of foraging in the PNW.

Diversity was on full display this outing, at least when it comes to the Basidiomycetes.  There was lots to see, all sorts of fungi to be found, unfortunately though, pictures just don’t do it justice.  Many specimens were very small, difficult to photograph in low light without a tripod and on top of that we had time constraints which meant that setting up a shot and working it was out the window.  We were mainly focused on finding dye mushrooms for the Ben Woo Foray in a couple of weeks, where Erin will be doing a workshop on the subject.  Of  course we note interesting mushrooms along the way and collect edibles as well.

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Mushroom of the Month, Leptonia spp.


by Danny Miller

Last month we talked about Pluteus, one of the two families of pink spored (actually salmon-pinkish brown spored) mushrooms. This month we will talk about the other, and in particular, some of my favourite mushrooms of all time!

Unlike Pluteus, with free gills that do NOT attach to the stem and mostly found growing on wood, Entoloma has gills that DO attach to the stem and is found mostly on the ground. They also have a unique spore shape, usually like little stop signs under a microscope instead of the usual round shape. No other mushrooms have angular spores like that, making them easy to spot.

Most mushrooms in the Entoloma family, in particular the Entolomas themselves and Nolanea are very boring. They are almost completely non-descript watery brown mushrooms of little interest. But then there are the magical Leptonias which have special pigments making them almost metallic blue or orange (and sometimes pink and the related Alboleptonia are a radiant white colour). Leptonias are usually small and graceful. Unfortunately, they are not found that often, but keep your eyes open because it will be a truly special day when you finally do find one.

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