by Brady Raymond
Fall 2017, is this a mushroom season anyone is going to really remember? There are mushrooms to be found and an acceptable diversity, but any real quantity seems to be lacking. Although, quantity is really only important if you are collecting for the pot either for consumption or dyeing. 2017 is probably not the year you would want to start a study on Russulas or Chanterelles. I have only seen a handful of Russulas this year and most were what other folks had collected. As far as Chanterelles are concerned the most I’ve seen in one place was the grocery store and they were selling for $17.98 at one point. I have only found a few handfuls of them myself this year, enough though for Erin to make a few dishes, but none to share.
So, the big question, “Is the season over?” Well, as evident from the above photo, no it is not. There are still mushrooms to be found and as long as the weather stays mild as it has been for the last week or so we may be able to milk this season for a while. I think it’s safe to say that over about 3,000ft. in our area, your chances of finding much of anything are probably limited. The photo below was taken around 2000ft. and the snow line was not far above that.
If you are a fan of Jelly Fungi now seems like a good time to go for a hike. On our little jaunt this last weekend there was no shortage of what I’m calling Dacrymyces chrysospermus also known as D. palmatus in some field guides. This fungus has a similar morphology to Tremella aurantia but is differentiated by the layman by its growth habit on dead hardwoods whereas Dacrymyces chryospermus typically grows on dead conifers. Additionally, Tremella aurantia is found in association with Stereum hirsutum which it is a parasite of.
All “true” jelly fungi are Basidiomycetes but that doesn’t stop a few Ascomycetes from doing their darndest to get in on some of that jelly action. One of those Ascomycetes happens to be Ascocoryne sarcoides photographed below. Urnula padeniana is another Asco you may encounter with a gelatinous fruit body, I often find them in the spring while searching for Morels.
Of course, when all else fails you can always look for Polypores and Crust-Fungi. Many fungi in this clade (if you can even call it that) have fruitbodies that persist over multiple seasons. We are all impressed finding our first Fomitopsis pinicola but often we tire of these mushrooms once we realize how common they are. But the truth is many are quite interesting and it is recommended that the reader seek out info better written on the subject than this author is capable of. One such source is “Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast” by Siegel and Schwarz. They have a short but great breakdown of the group on pg. 458 and fantastic descriptions of polypores and the like in the pages that follow.
The fungi pictured below is a rather interesting specimen, its underside is made up of bumps and wrinkles quickly making any hope that what I spotted from a distance was Oyster mushrooms. Upon further inspection, I noted it’s growth on dead wood and a cottony edge where it attached to the trunk of the tree. When I got home and started thumbing through some field guides the description of Meruliopsis corium in “Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest” by Trudell and Ammirati fit my specimen rather well. Looking up a few more images online I wasn’t convinced so I reached out to Danny Miller who gave me the name Plicatura nivea. Thankfully, there are people who know these kinds of things.
There were a number of mushrooms on this hike which I did not photograph. Many were either a little past their prime and thus not as photogenic as I would hope, or the lighting was sub-par, etc… We did spot some Helvella, one Bolete of the cracked cap variety, a few Mycena, Ganoderma, Angel Wings, and quite a few specimens that I’m at a loss for. The Hericium (photographed at the top of the article) was the only mushroom we gathered for eating along with another smaller specimen found not far away.
Don’t forget Hypholoma, they were everywhere. I mostly saw what I’m pretty sure were Hypholoma capnoides, but there did seem to be a few Hypholoma fasiculare too. From what I’ve read and seen in the field the main difference is that H. fasiculare has fairly bright greenish yellow colored gills when young, while H. capnoides has grayish gills when young. “Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest” also says that H. capnoides can have a viscid cap, a characteristic I can verify on some of the specimens I observed (Hypholoma capnoides photographed at the end of article).
If the weather continues on its current course we still have time to collect before heavy snow sets in. Maybe I’ll find my first Lobster Mushroom of the year, or maybe I’ll luck out and find a Sparrasis or even two handfuls of Chanterelles. Or maybe even moss carpeted slopes of Cortinarius smithii for the dye pot, or if I’m extra lucky some Matsutake. It’s hard to have faith at this point but a little hope and maybe, just maybe a little luck and I’ll have a basketful of something tasty before the year is up.
So, weather permitting I will be out there once again in the coming week, I hope you will too and I hope we all luck out and the mushroom jackpot is still out there.