Mushroom Forecast October/November
Our late September rains certainly helped get moisture into the ground and managed to inspire various mushroom species to start fruiting. Unfortunately, the rainfall was not equally distributed in all the local areas we like to hunt in. The central coastal region did very well as did the forested areas west of Eugene. We did not have time to check the Cascade Range or other areas east of Eugene but others have been reporting some success. The higher elevations of the Cascades have already started to receive some snowfall, with more predicted on the way. If it gets too cold too fast, the season may get frozen out in the Cascades; let’s hope that does not happen. On the positive side, our recent trip to the coast allowed us to bag 5 pounds of full-sized chanterelles along with several lobster mushrooms.
If you are out hunting for Chanterelles, be aware the False Chanterelle Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca, is now out in full force. We have been seeing this species in more locations each year and in increasing numbers. Considered a Chanterelle look-a-like, its color will often entice you into hiking over for a look only to discover it’s not what you hoped for. While we have found false chanterelles with true chanterelle like cap structures, the false chanterelle has true gills rather than ridges and the flesh is very flimsy unlike the firm structured, very sturdy, and white interior fleshed chanterelle. Most websites list Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca as not being poisonous but too bitter or unpalatable to eat.
Last month’s forward-looking prediction of Boletes, Matsutake, and Shaggy Parasols may have been a little premature. But, as of this week, we have spotted a few Shaggies (a Chlorophyllum oliveria fruiting above a C. rhacodes pictured right) in town and have received reports of both Matsutake and Boletes on the coast. We have observed in the last few years that getting some rainfall in September or early October is critical. We received very little early rainfall last year which resulted in a sparse edible mushroom season; they just never seemed to really ignite. This last round of rain should get everything going. However, based on Freeman Rowe’s vast experience it can take up to several weeks for recent rainfalls to really get the mushroom fruiting process fully energized.
We have also started spotting Shrimp Russulas in our travels as well as a few Hydnum repandum (Hedgehog) mushrooms. Historically, October can be a banner month for many of our prized edibles including Sparassis crispa (Cauliflower mushroom), Lyophyllum decastes (Fried Chicken mushroom), and Hericium abietis (Goat’s Beard). On the suburban front, we have yet to spot any Leccinum scabrum (Birch Bolete), which as its common name implies, is associated with birch trees.
Our neighborhood has lost many of its Birch trees to the Bronze Birch Borer’s destructive larvae and left others in a much-weakened state. This is a good example of what can happen when a fungus is dependent on a single plant species for its existence.
Best for Beginners: Both the Cauliflower mushroom and Hedgehogs are great mushrooms for beginners. The Cauliflower (Sparasis crispa) does have the rounded shape of a cauliflower you would find in your local grocers. But, if you look close it looks more like a pile of wide egg noodles. Either way, you will find this one on the ground near conifer trees and stumps. It can grow quite large (up to 50 pounds) and often fruits in the same location annually.
We have two species of Hedgehogs in our area, both are distinguished by teeth or spines under the cap.
- Hydnum repandum: Broad convex to plane irregularly shaped cap, pale cream in color, spines/teeth under the cap. Fruits earlier than umbilicatum.
- Hydnum umbilicatum: Smaller cap with “belly button”, cream to peach in color, spines/teeth under cap
So hopefully this is enough good news to get you motivated into traveling to one of our forested regions to see what you can find. Remember, without having the aid of a Forest Cam to monitor mushroom activity from the comfort of your couch, it is always a crapshoot as to what you’ll find and where you’ll find it. Timing is everything along with location, location, location. Never get discouraged and always take time to enjoy the incredible surroundings of Oregon’s forests. As some clever sage once recited, “It’s all about the journey”.