Mushrooming Motivation

by Paul Hill

In early November when you think season for the Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus formosus) may be winding down, what other mushrooms are there to find?  As we head closer to winter, the edibles become less common, but once you start looking you will see there are still many species out there.   Maybe you won’t find gourmet edibles all year round, but that might not stop you from enjoying the hobby of mushrooming.

There are many variations of mushroomers out there.  Myself, I love to take photographs of mushrooms.  When after the late summer and fall Boletes have faded, I am content with finding the curious, weird, and unusual mushrooms, including finding mushrooms in urban and suburban areas.

Another group of mushroom hunters sometimes found in parks of Washington and Oregon are the folks who found their way into mushrooming because they want to find the “magic mushrooms”.  Those are the little brown mushrooms which contain psilocybin, an hallucinogenic or psychedelic compound.  Mushrooming has a challenge in store for those looking for these mushrooms; making sure you have the right mushrooms requires learning technical features of mushrooms, because there are many little brown mushrooms growing in the Pacific Northwest in late fall and early winter – many more than are hallucinogenic.  Some of them are best identified by characteristics like having a peelable

LBMs in a Seattle Park

A least four Little Brown Mushroom species are in this photo.  There are so many LBMs to find!

 

pellicle and having a blue bruising reaction.  If you don’t know what a pellicle is, you might not  be sure you had a Liberty Cap (Psilocybe semilanceata).  Knowing what is meant by various descriptive features is important, because there are a dizzying array of other little brown (and gray) mushrooms that grow in the same areas.

Identifying a Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus formosus) is easier and certainly safer.  Those short gills, often called “ridges”, “veins” etc., because they are so short compared to most gills; along with the color; distinct silhouette; and a certain string cheese-like texture to the flesh is about all you need to separate the Chanterelles from anything else.  The one thing you learn about the popular edibles is that the ease of identifying helps to make them popular.

Golden Chanterelle

A Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus formosus) in the Cascade Mountains of Washington.

Sometimes the non-edibles catch my eye.  Here are some photos taken in November 2018. Here are some other picturesque mushrooms you might find in late fall in our area.

Witches Cap (Hygrocybe singeri) in Seattle

A colorful Witches Cap (Hygrocybe singeri) in Seattle in November

A Black Earth Tongue (Geoglossum umbratile)

A Black Earth Tongue (Geoglossum umbratile) in moss in Seattle.

Candlestick Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon)

Candlestick Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon) Curious white spores on black stems looking like a group of sticks. You might not think they are even a fungus.

reddish cap, widely-spaced gills, with a thick layer of clear slime on the long stipe (stem).

A Spike-cap (Gomphidius species) with its stipe covered in slime. Can you believe this is not the species Gomphidius glutinosus? There are even slimier species.