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.
We found a decent amount of Phaeolus schweinitzii, some nice buggy, gross lobster mushrooms and some Hydnellum aurantiacum. All of these are great mushrooms to dye with. If you’re interested in dyeing with fungi check out Erin’s articles on the subject here; Dye Mushrooms Part 1, Part 2 and stay tuned for Part 3 and Part 4. Part 3 will be dealing with Lobster mushrooms as well as toothed fungi.
We found a few Boletes on this trip, mostly B. zelleri, which we collected as well as a couple of B. fibrillosus, or so I believe them to be. I was tricked at first, from a distance they looked like the much more sought after and king of Boletes, B. edulis. I found another Bolete, pictured at left, that resembled a B. zellei but was quite large and also sported a cap the same color as the stipe. I found a few other large B. zelleri not far away but they had the much darker cap of the small ones we found earlier in the day. Was this a different species? I don’t know, I’m not an expert, but these are the things you start to notice the more time you spend in the woods and the more you wished you would have taken a few more photos. I guess I’ll be spending more time reading North American Boletes this fall and trying to get a grasp on the wild world of fleshy pored mushrooms. At thee hundred plus pages this may be an endeavor that takes me well into winter.
There were lots of mushrooms on this trip that stumped me and there will be many more in the future, I’m sure of it. But who said you learn mushrooms over night and if you’re like me your interests start to wander into other things like moss, lichens, ferns, birds, slugs and snails, amphibians, etc… And that’s ok, because getting out there is what it’s about, at least for me. I’ve experienced some really cool things in the ten years I’ve called the PNW my home, the most memorable were out in the woods, memories not soon forgotten either.
If you’re a fan of the Honey Mushroom, Armillaria mellea (old name), you’re in luck because they were everywhere. We have a couple of spots that we regularly hit up each fall, we do pretty well, finding a variety of fungi to fill our baskets each year. Never before have I seen so many Honey Mushrooms in these spots and one spot in particular. I’ve seen lots in other places, but here in our secret enclave they have been all but absent, or have they? I assume they were there the whole time and fruit on a kind of boom and bust cycle. We’ve been regulars at this spot for a few years now and I’m thinking we’re at the start of a new cycle. This is all very unscientific but I feel like I’ve noticed these cycles in a few city parks that I used to frequent with other fungi. Time will tell, maybe in a few years I’ll notice a lull and then an uptick, or maybe I’ll forget and wonder where all these damn Honey Mushrooms came from.
We also found smatterings of young Winter Chanterelles, Craterellus tubaeformis, these often fruit in great profusion in one of our spots and I expect this year to be no different. We may still be a couple of weeks out on finding any real quantity of them though, at least at this elevation. Winter Chanterelles grow closely together and are rather small, using scissors to harvest makes life easier, or so I’ve heard. I always forget to bring them but I imagine that this is sound advice, after collecting a few hundred by pinching I’m sure most would agree. We like to put these guys on pizza or throw into soups, we like to roast them first getting out some of the water and making them a bit crispy.
Our haul of chanterelles and dye mushrooms was quite nice this excursion and in a few hours of searching we found more than we can eat ourselves. So, we will share, that’s a big part of mushroom hunting except of course with morels. I don’t share morels, I jealously guard them. Erin was planning on making quiche for dinner and thought she would toss in some chanterelles. She did and boy was that some good quiche.
We’ll be out again soon looking for more, always searching for the next mushroom.