by Brady Raymond
Morels are here, and that means it’s time to gear up and head out. I have reports of landscape Morels being found in the Puget Sound lowlands and as warmer weather moves in we can start moving up into the mountains. Landscape Morels are good but mountain Morels are better and probably cleaner too. Make sure if you find landscape Morels to be discerning when picking them for the table. Many urban landscapes are fouled with pesticides and other harmful contaminants, caution is urged when collecting near human populations. If you are lucky enough to spot some locale landscape Morels count it as a good omen for the rest of the season.
Spring also means the beginning of the 2018 PSMS field trip season. If you’ve been on field trips in the past you probably already know that it is one of the best ways to learn about mushrooms and if you haven’t been on a field trip let me reiterate, it is one of the best ways to learn about mushrooms. There is no substitute for getting out in the woods and finding mushrooms first hand, taking in all of the peripheral clues and of course having access to one of PSMS’s most valuable resources, Brian Luther.
Brian works tirelessly each year securing old locations and finding new ones should the need arise. Whether a fire causes closures or a flood takes out a campsite Brian is on top of things seemingly before damage even occurs. It just so happens he is an expert in all things fungi related and will knock your socks off with his deep knowledge of native plants as well. The best part about Brian is his endless enthusiasm to teach and share his wisdom of the forest to all who are interested.
One mushroom that really peaks Brians interest is Echinodontium tinctorium also know as the “Indian Paint Fungus” (pictured below). This is a great fungus to keep a look out for during our dry summers as it is an all-season kind of mushroom. E. tinctorium tends to grow inland of the coast at higher elevations. Although it resembles a polypore to the casual observer, it is noted for having “teeth” on its underside instead of pores or gills. For more info read an article written by Brian with a good description of the fungus from this May 2014 edition of “Spore Prints.”
If you make it out to a field trip this spring make sure to introduce yourself to Brian and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Brian is one of the most engaging folks you’re sure to come across in the PNW. Don’t be frustrated either if things seem above your head, it takes time to learn mushrooms, maybe even a lifetime.