Southwestern New Mexico

NM Lichen 1

by Brady Raymond

I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that Morel season may be starting early for me this year, as I jetted across western skies on my way south to Silver City, New Mexico.  I had found a few articles online about mushrooming down yonder but I couldn’t find much on the topic.  All I really had to go on was the weather and as things go around here, things down there seemed just about perfect.  For those of you interested only in mushrooms, I’ll be up front, I didn’t find much.  However, it was a good exercise in getting my eyes tuned up for the season albeit maybe tuned a little sharp as I was looking for cacti.

Silver City is located in Grant County in Southwestern New Mexico, it rests at 5900 ft. and is home to around 10,000 people.  I’ve visited this region some fourteen years earlier on a road trip with a friend just out of high school and things still looked pretty much the same.  One thing that caught my attention on this trip was the incredible abundance of lichen, all sorts of the stuff coating rock and tree alike.  I’m no lichen expert so these couple of photos will have to suffice, but trust me when I say it was everywhere, adding little splashes of color to the browns and grays that dominate the landscape.

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Lichen, lichen everywhere.

NM Emory Pass 8200ft.

Emory Pass 8200 ft.

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Color In The Dark Of Winter

Waxcaps In Seattle City Parks

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Hygrocybe aurantiosplendens

by Paul A. Hill

In the dark days of winter, I’m still thinking of mushrooms, but sometimes they are hard to find.  Luckily in January, I often start seeing Waxcaps in my local wooded city parks. I believe there are at least three species I have spotted over the years in Seward Park on Lake Washington in SE Seattle.  All of the following photos were taken in 2017.  A note on usage, Waxy Caps or Waxcaps are both names used for several related genera in Hygrophoraceae family.  Above is a picture of the common red Hygrocybe with lots of yellow, but little, if any white.  I identify it as H. aurantiosplendens, generally because of the colors and size.

The following photo is of a ragged H. aurantiosplendens showing the orange-red gills.  In January, I often come across these orange-red Hygrocybe which have become tattered.  It appears the mice and slugs in the park nibble on them through the winter.  Since these Hygrocybe seem to be the first ones up in January and there are not very many of them, they seem to suffer more nibbles then those which come up in larger numbers later in the winter.

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Hygrocybe aurantiosplendens, this specimen has seen better days.

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Still Going…

IC Hericium abietis

Hericium abietis, Mmm, good.

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.

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The snow line was not far above our elevation of 2000ft.

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NAMA Photo Contest Winners

The North American Mycological Association recently announced the winners of the 2016 photo contest.  PSMS Vice President, Daniel Winkler, was awarded first and second place in the Pictorial category!

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First place: Boletus reticuloceps

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Second place: Ceratiomyxa sphaerosperma

Congratulations Daniel!  You can see the rest of the winners here.

 

‘Tis The Season

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Erin’s first morel of the year.

by Brady Raymond

They’re Here! I’m happy to report, as some of you probably already know the 2016 Morel season is on. The wife and I headed out April 17th on Highway 2 with the hopes of finding morels. We knew we were taking a chance, heading over Stevens Pass and hanging around 2100ft. in elevation. The temperature seemed right, and we had loads of snow this winter, which means moisture levels had to be at least better than last year, our moral for morels was indeed high. Continue reading

Learning to identify candy caps

Our mushroom of the month this April is the candy cap! Danny Miller has already written an extensive post full of interesting facts and useful info for identifying. Here, I just wanted to share a couple of images that should make identifying a lot easier. As Danny mentioned, there are a lot of candy cap look-alikes in the PNW, and it can be hard to tell them apart at first. You can always take them home and dry them to confirm a positive ID, but that can be time consuming, and you might end up with a bag full of duds.

One macroscopic characteristic you really want to pay attention to is the latex, the liquid substance that oozes from any lactarius when it is broken. Candy caps have a murky clear latex, kind of like saliva or another bodily fluid. The most common look-alikes, in contrast, have a much whiter, more opaque latex. Take a look:

(These photos came from PSMS member Josh Powell (left) and Tim Sage via mushroom observer (right))

As you start to find candy caps with any regularity, you’ll get really good at identifying the real thing, even without the latex. Some of us (including me!) can actually distinguish their smell when they’re fresh!

Finally, I’d like to leave you with one last tip: dry your candy caps SLOWLY. For most mushrooms, it doesn’t matter a whole lot how quickly you dry them, or the temperature you use, but I’ve found that candy caps that are dried too quickly don’t develop as strong a smell, and often have a much stronger mushroom-y flavor instead.

Happy hunting! (or rather — happy future hunting. we still have several months before the season starts!)

Dispatches From Hawai’i: Mushrooming in Hawai’i

This is the first in a 4-part series on the fungi of Hawai’i from a Pacific Northwest perspective.  This article provides an introduction to fungi in Hawai’i.  The following articles discuss edibles and fungi with psychedelic properties, mycology in Hawai’i, and the connection between Hawai’i and the Pacific Northwest.

In the years leading up to my move to Hawai’i Island in 2014, my interest in fungi was growing, and I knew I would continue my hobby after I moved.  I wondered about the mushroom culture in Hawai’i: when and where to forage, what the edibles were, and who was studying mycology.

I asked members in PSMS and attendees of the 2014 NAMA gathering in Eatonville their thoughts.  Despite nearly uniform replies—there are few good edibles, it’s hard to find anything at all, there’s not much going on—I was not deterred.  Many areas receive plenty of precipitation, therefore, there must be plenty of fungi and people interested in them, I reasoned.

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Morels

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Burn Morel

 

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“Natural” Morels 2 Years After a Burn

The top photo is a morel found the year after a burn near Leavenworth.  The bottom photo shows morels found 2 years after a burn near a stream by Blewitt Pass (who says old burns are worthless?).

Photos by Brady Raymond