by Brady Raymond
Cold frosty nights usually spells the end for most mushroomers, but the observant are still rewarded with a plethora of fungal finds. 2017 may not go down as “the year” at least in our neck of the woods but I have valued each moment spent outdoors with my family and have enjoyed very much what nature offered up to us this year. Although the inevitable cold wet months of winter have yet to set in, the general gloom and sulk of it all are lessened by thoughts of spring and of course, Morels.
The cold weather doesn’t have to be the end of your season, there are plenty of rotten, moldy slimy mushroom carcasses to be found under wet leaves and amongst saturated duff. Good luck identifying any of them. There are also conks and other persistent woody fungal fruitbodies, scattered through the forest and parks. Thankfully, cold weather is relative, and often times what folks around here complain about, folks in other parts would laugh at as being considered cold. Truth is, winters around the Puget Sound are fairly mild and as long as it gets above freezing during the day, I think it’s worth keeping your eyes open, ready to spot any frosty mushrooms that make themselves apparent.
The two mushrooms on the left were found down the road from my house. The mushroom on the right is one from my yard. Are they the same?
by Patrick Bennett, PhD Candidate. Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Oregon State University
After finishing my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at Humboldt State University in 2012, I came to Corvallis, Oregon to pursue a graduate degree with Dr. Jeff Stone in Botany and Plant Pathology at Oregon State University. The Pacific Northwest is a mycological wonderland, and I feel compelled to take full advantage of all of the opportunities that this region has to offer. Although I have tried to spend as much time as possible in the outdoors, most of my time has been spent in the classroom teaching and learning, and in the laboratory collecting data for my thesis research. Teaching has been a major part of my responsibilities in grad school. I have taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses ranging from introductory biology to mycology and plant pathology. I am currently in my 5th (and final!) year as a PhD student and am planning to defend my thesis in June 2018.
My research is primarily focused on the population genetics of the ascomycete Phaeocryptopus gaeumannii. This is likely the most abundant fungus in western Oregon and Washington, as it is found in nearly every Douglas-fir needle. Its causes an economically and ecologically important disease known as Swiss needle cast (SNC) by reproducing in the foliage of its host. Its spore-bearing structures (pseudothecia, technically) obstruct stomata, the pores through which plants exchange gases and water vapor with the atmosphere, leading to an inhibition of gas exchange and photosynthesis. Once the fungus begins to form pseudothecia in a needle, its ability to take in CO2 from the atmosphere is impaired and the foliage cannot produce sugars-the building blocks of complex carbohydrates. The symptoms of SNC include chlorotic (yellow) foliage, premature shedding of needles, and growth reduction. It was first recognized in the 1920s in Switzerland (hence the name) and was then reported from Douglas-fir timber plantations across Europe and New Zealand in the following decades.
Subsequent surveys showed that P. gauemannii is likely native to the Pacific Northwest, and although once considered harmless in the native range of Douglas-fir, it is now inflicting devastating economic losses in the region’s Douglas-fir timber industry and causing ecological impacts that are only beginning to be understood. Prior to the 1990s, outbreaks of SNC only occurred in Christmas tree plantations or where Douglas-fir was planted as an exotic. In the mid 1980s, foresters in coastal northwestern Oregon began to notice the symptoms of the disease, particularly around the town of Tillamook where Douglas-fir trees from various seed sources had been planted in the reforestation efforts after a devastating series of fires that burned over 350,000 acres between 1933 and 1951. By the 1990s, the SNC problem in this region had reached epidemic proportions. This outbreak led to an increase in research efforts to understand its emergence. The disease now affects approximately 600,000 acres in Oregon and over 300,000 acres in Washington, with estimates of economic impacts around $198 million per year in Oregon alone.
The fruiting bodies of Phaeocryptopus gaeumannii cause Swiss Needle Cast (SNC) by blocking the stomata (pores used for gas exchange) in Douglas-fir needles. Left: A pseudothecium of P. gaeumannii, showing the asci. Right: The undersides of Douglas-fir needles infected with P. gaeumannii showing pseudothecia protruding from the stomata. Photo credit: Jeff Stone, Oregon State University.
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.
The snow line was not far above our elevation of 2000ft.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017-7:30PM
Danny Miller presents
or “You would think that, you’re human!”
Doors open at 6:30 pm at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Come early and bring any mushrooms you want identified!
Danny’s talk will be an entertaining take on human bias in mushrooming, how wrong we’ve been when trying to figure out what’s important about a mushroom, and how the things we dismiss as irrelevant often turn out to be the most important features. It includes some of the strangest and most surprising results to come out of DNA studies lately and he will piece together a bit of the history of the evolution of mushrooms shapes.
Danny Miller is the PSMS Librarian, Education Chair and one of Brian Luther’s ID Committee members and an emergency poisoning point person for King County Washington Poison Control. Danny also belongs to the PNW Key Council, a group of amateur and professional mycologists and is a co-author of MatchMaker with Ian Gibson, the free PNW mushroom ID program for the PC and MAC. He has a big interest in taxonomy and figuring out where all of the mushrooms fit into the fungal tree of life.
by Erin Raymond
When it comes to edibles the pickings have been slim so far this year, at least for us. So what do you do with a handful of white Chanterelles? I decided to make soup with half and pizza with the other. Continue reading
by Brady Raymond
“Things are looking good” and “Things are good” are two very different statements. As I stepped out of the car this year at the 2017 Ben Woo Memorial Foray my heart was filled with excitement. My brain, on the other hand, was much more suspicious of what awaited us in the forests skirting Mt. Rainier this year.
“What’s the scoop?” I asked Milton who was nearby as I hopped out of the car.
“Not good.” He replied.
My heart sank a bit, surely there had to be something. Once all the attendees arrive we’re bound to find mushrooms. Over a hundred sets of eyes will be searching these woods, zigzagging and crisscrossing each others path. My heart lifted a bit at the thought, but then froze as a few flakes of snow started to fall. It’s just not the year I guess, not like last year, at the Ben Woo All Sound Foray.
Hydnum repandum, the Hedgehog, one of the “toothed fungi.”
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.
Laetiporus conifericola, the Sulfur Shelf or Chicken of the Woods. The mushroom formerly known as L. sulphureus. These were quite large, the column was about four feet tall. These were definitely past their prime.
by Brady and Erin Raymond
As the rains begin soaking in and temperatures start to drop don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled this fall for dye mushrooms. We often get so consumed with finding the consumables we forget that mushrooms have other uses too. If you are into cooking and you like crafting, specifically with animal fiber, dyeing with mushrooms may be right up your alley. Here’s a quick run down and if you’re interested check out the links at the end of the post for more info.
by Brady Raymond
This article is intended as a preseason metaphysical mushrooming warm up. As our summer edges closer to the inevitable rains of fall, I think it is important that we get our heads right. What follows is my attempt at explaining to myself something about mushrooms. What that is and if it is of any value to the reader is for them to decide.
You don’t have to put a name on a mushroom to understand a mushroom. Putting a name on it only identifies it, understanding a mushroom is a whole different thing. Names help when communicating with other people about a given mushroom, but if you’re trying to understand it from a name alone good luck.
Experience only comes with time, the more time you spend with mushrooms the more you will start to understand them. To fully grasp mushrooms takes time, and as your experience grows so too will your perception of the patterns which associate with fungi. However, many patterns as soon as they start to form become disrupted, but if you broaden the scope of your perception, you may see the same or similar patterns start to reemerge.
When you can instinctively calculate the patterns around you and benefit from understanding them to find more mushrooms, you know you have moved from a novice to a novice+1. It’s a long way to go to get to expert and there is a kind of scientific inflation if you want to get to pro. Though, for many of us being a novice+1 is sufficient enough for what we hope to achieve.
Having a hunch may just be your brain telling you it is recognizing a pattern. In a spot like this, what have you got to lose poking around a bit?