by Brady Raymond
So far this fall, things are looking good for the would-be mushroomer trudging around our neck of the woods although “looking” is the operative word. I can’t say I’ve had much luck with edibles this season but Phaeolus schweinitzii is fruiting very prolifically, at least in the places Erin and I have looked. We’ve found what I estimate to be right around twenty pounds over the last couple weekends, and a single specimen I found last Thursday while out dual sporting on some of my favorite forest service roads.
The edibles I’ve found thus far are limited to four Chanterelles, one Hedgehog, and some “past their prime” Sulfur Shelves. Overall, the past couple of weekends things have been fairly sparse yet there is a definite progression to the season and each outing we’ve spotted a few more species than the last. I expect this coming weekend to be spectacular as the temperature drops and precipitation moves in. The forest itself though seems ripe to burst with bouquets of fungi and is probably doing so as I write this article.
Erin and I have been hunting fairly low in elevation and I would think that if someone were up another 1000ft. they would have found much more. Our efforts have been everywhere from sea level to about 2200ft. I’ve heard a few reports of Sparassis and even some lobsters but I have yet to see a single russula. Hopefully, some of you have had a little better luck finding edibles but if you haven’t I think you’ll be finding them very soon. In the meantime, why not keep your eyes peeled for Phaeolus schweinitzii.
Phaeolus schweinitzii also known as the Dyer’s Polypore is just one of the many species of mushrooms you can extract color from and yields a beautiful forest green or goldenrod color, depending on how the yarn is mordanted. The Dyer’s Polypore is a common fall mushroom here in the PNW and tends to grow at the base of conifers. In my experience, it seems to prefer Douglas-fir both alive and dead. One often finds specimens from the previous year or possibly even older, although frustrating, those who are observant will usually stumble across a fresh specimen not far away. Young P. schweinitzii often times will be yellowish in color, sometimes with a greenish hue underneath. As age sets in the yellows are restricted to the tips of the shelf structures sometimes disappearing completely. This is when one may be mistaken for an older specimen from the previous year yet if you look underneath the pores will still be fairly brightly colored and the whole mushroom will be quite spongy. Year old specimens will be brown in their entirety and much more woody to the touch.
Check your spots for the Dyer’s Polypore regularly throughout the season. They seem to start early and can be found late into the season albeit, a little worse for ware. They can vary quite a bit in form, texture, and color but once you’ve found a few you’ll know them fairly well. If you spot one either young or old, circle the tree (or stump) there may be more.
Erin and I don’t have it down to a science but we have a secret for finding them that seems to be working pretty well for us. Unfortunately for you, if you haven’t figured it out on your own, I’m not going to tell you. I’ll just say don’t look too hard, they are often right under your nose or, just above your head.