Mushroom Forecast – September/October
~ This article is an excerpt from the September issue of the Cascade Mycological Society (CMS) Enews ~
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It’s time to dig out your mushroom hunting paraphernalia. September can be a slow time for finding mushrooms, especially in a dry summer like we have had. As Sandy said last month, it is truly an Easter Egg hunt, not designed for the impatient picker or those that like to spot and pick mushrooms from the comfort of their vehicle. And living under a cloud of smoke courtesy of so many forest fires does not help foster that let’s go mushroom hunting enthusiasm. However, remember what Bluto Blutarsky of Animal House fame once quoted “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. Luckily, we are now in the middle of September and things are looking up, as in clouds in the sky. As I am typing this article our local weather guessers are predicting as much as an inch or more of rainfall over the next week or so. That’s great news for clearing out the smoke and for energizing fungi species of many genera to get with the program of fruiting. This could be BIGLY.
One of the earliest big edible guys to emerge is Chlorophyllum rachodes, also spelled rhacodes (Shaggy parasol). As you can see by the picture on the left, these mushrooms have a large cap at maturity (this one is an 8 incher). They are white with a large brown center patch and what can be described as shaggy shingle like brown scales radiating out from the center. The stems are very fibrous and inedible, and will turn a pinkish-orange when sliced or scratched, then slowly brownish. The best part is you don’t have to go to the woods for these guys; they will come to a neighborhood near you. We generally find them around stands of Douglas firs or other mature conifer trees in town. They are saprotrophic or decomposers of organic matter so tree type is not that important. While considered a choice edible, some people have experienced gastrointestinal distress after eating them. Also be cognizant of the environment you harvest them in as they are known to accumulate heavy metals that may exist in the substrate. Otherwise, cook them well, do not pig out on them, and enjoy.
If you’d rather hit the woods you’ll be sure to find many of the usual suspects like Chanterelles, Lobsters, and Chicken of the woods that have already been appearing at the coast. The extra moisture should really get them going. We have also started to see Shrimp mushrooms (Russula xerampelina) at the coast and have also seen some online reports of Matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare) and Hericium abietis being found – but no hints as to where. A status check on Cascades range activity to the CMS Forums let me know that despite the fact that the Cascades are still quite dry, Chanterelles, King Boletes, Chicken of the Woods, and Albetrellus edibles have been found. So, I think we can easily forecast that Boletes are on their way in.There are several edible Boletes to be found in our area, the most popular are the prized King Bolete (Boletus edulis), and the very similar Boletus fibrillosus which will also pass for a King. My favorite is the Boletus mirabulus, perhaps a good topic for Mushroom of the Month in next month’s issue. Like Lobsters which start getting wormy as the season progresses, it is also wise to go out looking for Boletes as soon as you start hearing reports.
You may be disappointed if you rush out and expect a bonanza right after our first rains. Give this much needed moisture a week or two to sink in and get things fruiting. Remember that every moisture starved organism in the forest will want their slice of this rain pie and fungi aren’t always the first at the feeding trough. While the coastal areas may receive the greatest amount of moisture don’t ignore the cascade range, which has a great deal of fungal diversity. No matter where you go once the rain has a chance to work its magic, just get out there and enjoy why we all love Oregon and this amazing time of year.
Best for Beginners: Hericium is near the top of my list for best mushrooms for beginners. If you find a large white cluster of branching icycle like structures growing on a dead tree or log, you have most likely found a Hericium. Hericium coralloides is the more common Hericium species in our area. CMS co-founder Marcia Peeters is pictured with one to the left. You will learn more about Marcia in the Mushroom of the month article.
You can also add the Shaggy Parasol to your list. I normally do not recommend gilled mushrooms to beginners, but the Shaggy Parasol is one exception. It’s distinctive patches and it’s in town location make it unique. You may have heard of the poisonous look-alike Chlorophyllum molybdites (AKA the vomiter). With the exception of its green spore print, rather than the white spore print of the edible Shaggies, they do look very much alike. But, the molybdites is more of a tropical mushroom that you would find in the summer in Southern California. To my knowledge, there have been no reports of molybdites here in Oregon. According to Mushroom Observer, Chico California is the furthest north it has been found on the west coast.
If you also want to foray for Boletes, remember to stay away from any Bolete that has a red sponge under the cap, or stains blue when you cut or scratch any part of the mushroom. The very stately King Bolete is your best bet. They have a buff-brown bun shaped cap, a white spongy spore surface (when young), and a large stem which is sometimes much larger at the base than the apex (top) near the cap, and a net-like reticulation on the stem.