Edible Mushroom Forecast November/December

Despite the fact that we have had a slow start to the season we broke our species record for the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Mushroom Festival Display. The count of 409 included  56 new species, so this means we did not have some of the mushrooms we have had in the past.  This was definitely our experience in collecting for the show.  There were several mushroom species that were just not out by festival time due to the lack of ground penetrating rains.  Since the festival, we have had more rain which has spurred more mushrooms and more diversity.  But, this article is not about diversity, it is about edibles.  I have stopped counting the number of Facebook postings I have seen of King Boletes, they appear to be pretty prolific this year.  On our last outing to the coast, we saw no less than a dozen in one of our spots. The Shrimp Russula is also out in numbers. On the Chanterelle front, the false Chanterelles are starting to wane. They have a much shorter fruiting period than the true Chanterelles which are still fruiting as evidenced by the picture above/left posted by Erin Brown on the CMS Facebook page.

Other edibles that should be fruiting now include the very lovely Pigs Ears (Gomphus clavatus) pictured right, the Fried Chicken mushroom (Lyophyllum decastes); only harvest from gravel roads, Matsutake, and Harriet’s favorite mushroom for making “bacon bits” Laccaria laccata (also L. bicolor, and L. amethystina)

Looking forward from mid-November to mid-December we should start seeing Winter Chanterelles, the belly button Hedgehog (Hydnum umbilicatum), and perhaps one of my favorites the Candy Cap mushroom. The Winter Chanterelles (Craterellus tubaeformis), is also known as the Yellow Foot mushroom. You will find them on the ground on moss, woody debris, or rotting stumps/logs in conifer forests.  They are not considered to be as tasty as the Golden Chanterelle and they are certainly not as meaty. But, when you find them they are often in an abundant troop too difficult to pass up.  They do have a look-alike, the Chrysomphalina chrysophylla. In the quad picture to the left, the Winter Chanterelle is shown in the top 2 pictures. The underside of the mushroom on the left, and a top view of a small troop on the right.  Below is a Winter Chanterelle next to a Chrysomphalina chrysophylla. Shown from the top and underneath. In both bottom pictures, the Winter Chanterelle is on the left. The most distinguishing feature is the blade-like gills of the Chrysomphalina chrysophylla versus the decurrent ridges of the Winter Chanterelle. The edibility of Chrysomphalina chrysophylla is unknown.

I mentioned both species of Hedgehogs we have in this area in last months forecast. What I failed to mention is that the Hydnum repandum starts fruiting in early to mid-fall while the belly button Hedgehog starts fruiting in late fall. You will find them in a habitat similar to Winter Chanterelles, maybe even near each other. They are also on the small side so you will need to find quite a few to make a meal. Both species of Hedgehogs should persist well into December and perhaps into January.

Now on to one of my favorite mushrooms, the Candy Cap. In our experience, Candy Caps do not normally appear until December. But, as we all know, mushrooms cannot read so they don’t always do what we expect.  The earliest we have seen them was our banner year of 2013 when we had good soaking rains in early September; they were out by the end of October. CMS member Michelle Parish posted a comment to the CMS Facebook page that she had found some this week. So, hopefully, they will be in full swing soon. In time for a good discussion on them in December’s “Mushroom of the Month” article and for a Candy Cap foray. 

Best for Beginners – Continue to hunt for Chanterelles and Hedgehogs, and Boletes if you can find fresh young ones. Conifer forests in the lower levels of the Cascades, the Coast, and the Valley are your best options. If you are looking for something new to try that is easy to ID, try the Pig’s Ear (photo shown previously). They are vase/funnel shaped that cluster into rosettes with outside crinkly ridges reminiscent of Chanterelles. The inside color is a tan/olive color, but it is their outside violet color that sets them apart from any other mushroom. 




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