Category Archives: Mushroom Hunting

The False “Beefsteak” Morel (Gyromitra esculenta)

Article by Bruce Pandoff
Included here with permission by equip2endure.com

It is mushroom season in many parts of the US and morels are some of the most prized popping up at this time. They are considered easy to identify but there are some potentially deadly lookalikes growing in the forest and making their entrance at the same time. The false morel, commonly known as Beefsteak Morel, or Gyromitra esculenta is one of these such poisonous mushrooms and is a common mushroom for beginning mycophagists (mushroom hunters) to poison themselves with.

Before consuming any mushroom I highly recommend seeking the in person tutelage of an expert in the field of mycology or otherwise foraging expert. Look for groups and clubs that often are lead by these experts. Check bulletin boards at libraries, civic centers, college universities, and local co-op stores for such postings by these groups seeking members. If all else fails, search the internet for a local group. I am adamant about the seeking of experts and will rarely teach about edible mushrooms except for a very small selection for the simple fact that there are expert mycologist that poison themselves each year where as I gladly teach others about plants as this phenomenon with mycologists rarely happens with botanists. As you progress always keep in mind, there are old mycophagist and there are brave mycophagist, but there are no old brave mycophagist. Often how we find out if a mushroom is poisonous is due to those brave souls finding out for us and the mycological community learning from the toxicology report. Venture forth carefully.

Here is the poisonous lookalike of the prized morel, Gyromitra esculenta. It often grows under conifers such as balsam, pine and spruce. Fruiting bodies (mushrooms) may be found in spring but summer and fall are the predominate fruiting periods.

The mushroom from a distance or to the beginner may look like a morel, but upon closer inspection key identifying features will be revealed. The surface is not truly pitted, it is wrinkled, folded, and convoluted where as true morels will be pitted like a sponge.

The stem may be white, cream, or have a slight yellow tint. When cut open the stem is solid though may have air pockets. A true morel will be hollow all the way through.

It had previously been thought that these mushrooms could be parboiled, the water discarded, to be made edible but recent evidence indicates that this is in no way a reliable method of removing all the poisons. This species and other false morels cause poisoning through a compound known as Monomethylhydrazine which is found in jet fuel. When poisoned, the victim’s symptoms will be delayed anywhere from six to twelve hours. Eventually, fatigue, headache, abdominal pain, and occasionally watery diarrhea may occur. In more extreme cases, liver damage, delirium, and occasionally death will occur. There are no antidotes as of yet. There are plenty of other edibles to learn out that do not requiring doctoring to be made edible making Gyromitra not worthwhile.

Note: Before consuming any wild vegetation or plants please consult an expert. This is for informational purposes only!

Common Mushroom Checklist

This file contains a Common Mushroom Checklist for the Pacific Northwest area, composed of species commonly found and displayed at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Annual Mushroom Show, during the 1983 – 2002 years.

Mushroom Picking Permit Information

VISIT THE FORAYS PAGE FOR UPDATED INFORMATION.

Provided by the Cascade Mycological Society

Cascade Mycological Society

P.O. Box 110
Eugene, OR 97440

www.cascademyco.org

DISCLAIMER:

This information is provided for your general information and is liable to change without notice. The Cascade Mycological Society makes no guarantee as to the accuracy of this information. Please check with the appropriate offices for any changes. When eating mushrooms, it is vital that you are positive about identification. Poisonings occur when people eat incorrectly identified mushrooms. Using a good identification guide helps, but does not guarantee that you have a good ID. Be sure you know what you have before eating mushrooms!

Bureau of Land Management, Eugene District
3106 Pierce Parkway
Suite E
Springfield, OR 97477


Personal Use permits:

No personal use permit is required; however picking is limited to one gallon per day per person (this includes all species, edible or not). Having more than one gallon of mushrooms in your possession without a commercial permit is regarded as theft, and you can be ticketed.

Commercial permits:

 Other Districts (Salem, Medford, Coos Bay, Tillamook) do not necessarily have this restriction.

Siuslaw National Forest

541-750-7000
Florence District Office
4480 Highway 101, Bldg G
Florence, Oregon 97439
541-902-8526
Hours: Mon- Fri. 8-4:30

 

Personal Use permits:

(This is also called “incidental use.”) People visiting the Siuslaw National Forest may collect up to one gallon of mushrooms per person per day with no permit or fee required. Up to 6 of these mushrooms may be matsutake. However all matsutake mushrooms collected under incidental use must have at least ½ inch of the stem cut off immediately after picking. Selling or exchanging mushrooms gathered incidentally is a violation of Federal regulations (Title 36 CFR 261.6F), punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both.

 

Commercial permits:

Quantities under this permit are unlimited. Each person picking must have a permit and be at least 18 years of age. Permits may be purchased for one month of consecutive days (there is no limit to the number of permits per person per year). A one year permit is also available. Regular commercial permits do not include matsutake mushrooms. Only the following edible mushrooms are included: Chanterelles, Boletes, Oysters, Sulfur Shelf Fungus, Slippery Jack, Imperial Cats, Hedgehogs, Shaggy Manes, Lobsters, Cauliflowers, Pig’s Ears, and Coral Fungus.

 

Commercial Matsutake Permits:

 

Quantities under this permit are unlimited. Each person picking must have a permit and be at least 18 years of age. The permit will list other specific terms and conditions that apply to picking matsutake mushrooms. This is only sold as a six month permit, one permit per person per year. The exception is at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, where 100 permits are offered once a year. Purchase the permit from the District office where you plan to harvest, either the Hebo, Florence, or Waldport Office or the Supervisor’s Office in Corvallis. Permits start at the 100 pound minimum and cost $27.50. They are good for one week. There are six areas on the Eugene district to pick in. For the Eugene District BLM, commercial permits can only be purchased at the Eugene District office on Wednesdays 8 to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Other Districts (Salem, Medford, Coos Bay, Tillamook) do not necessarily have this restriction.

Willamette National Forest
3106 Pierce Parkway
Suite D
Springfield, OR 97477
541-225-6300

 

Personal Use permits:

Personal use permits are available at the Willamette National Forest office in Springfield. They are also available at the McKenzie River Ranger District office. A personal use mushroom permit issued from any of the following five forests is valid on all five forests. Deschutes, Willamette, Umpqua, Fremont, Winema. Personal use permits are free. Collections are limited to 2 gallons per day, 10 days per year (days may be non consecutive). Permits may be renewed. There are restrictions that vary by District, such as requirements to cut specimens in half. Be alert to frequent changes to the permit details, especially regarding Matsutake mushrooms. Make sure to check any regulations on the permit itself, such as whether it needs to be in your possession, and if there is a map attached.

 

Commercial permits:

For commercial use, a fee is charged. For more information about how to get a permit, fees, or regulations covering collection, please contact the Forest Service office nearest your intended activity.

In addition to general conditions, restrictions, and requirements on mushroom permits which are common to all five forests, some forests may have conditions, regulations, or restrictions for mushroom harvest that are specific to that forest.

U S National Forests
Info on permits: www.fs.fed.us.
Info on policy: www.fs.fed/us/r6/willamette

Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests
(541) 383-5300 or (541) 416-6500

Personal Use permits:

All personal collection of mushrooms requires a personal use permit which can be obtained at all Forest Service offices for the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests. These permits have some differences in conditions, restrictions, and requirements. The Ochoco National Forest has a mushroom permit that is valid only on the Ochoco. Deschutes is part of the five forest permitting system noted under the Willamette, and personal use on the Deschutes is currently covered by the permit you get at the Willamette.

Commercial permits:

All commercial collection of mushrooms requires a commercial use permit which can only be obtained at District Forest Service offices for the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests. There are two types of commercial permits: Permits for Matsutake mushroom; and, Permits for all mushroom species other than Matsutake.

State Lands:

For information contact the Oregon dept. of Forestry at 503-945-7200 or 503-945-7420.

Private Lands:

It goes without saying that one should get permission to pick on private lands. Neighbors or public land agencies may be able to help you find out who owns the private land you are interested in.

 

Information is from official sources and was current as of October 1, 2006.

 

Important guidlines to follow when collecting and eating wild mushrooms…

There are many species of delicious wild mushrooms which grow in our area, and learning to find and enjoy these gifts is satisfying on many levels. Caution should be exercised as there are many species that are not considered edible and may cause various levels of discomfort if eaten, and a handful that contain potent toxins that can cause permanent organ damage, or even death. For your safety and enjoyment, please follow these guidelines, and always remember: “when in doubt, throw it out!”.

  • Every mushroom you plan to eat should be ACCURATELY IDENTIFIED as an edible species.
    Despite folklore to the contrary, there are no simple guidelines which will separate edibles from other species. You must assume the responsibility to identify all wild mushrooms you collect to eat with 100% confidence. Many edible species have toxic look-alikes; learn what these are, and don’t rely only on photographs or drawings!
  • Never eat raw mushrooms.
    This applies to all mushrooms: improved digestibility, flavor, available nutrition and the elimination of some potentially harmful substances all result from thorough cooking. However, be aware that cooking will not eliminate all types of toxins and will not make poisonous mushrooms edible.
  • When trying a mushroom species for the first time…
    Eat only ‘two’ cooked teaspoons of one species, and wait at least 24 hours before eating any more of that species or trying another new species. A few people have an allergy to one particular mushroom species, just as some people are allergic to shrimp, wheat, dairy or other foods. If you are eating new species for the first time, and you eat more than one species and have a reaction you won¹t know which species you are allergic to. So sample new species one at a time (one per day maximum), and for the first sample, limit to two teaspoons. Keep a whole, uncooked sample of the mushroom species in your refrigerator in case the identification needs to be confirmed later.
  • Do not consume alcohol when trying a mushroom for the first time.
    Wait until you are sure you are not allergic to a particular species before having it with wine or beer. When consuming a new mushroom species, the presence of alcohol may produce stronger allergic reactions. Also, one species of the genus Coprinus (the shaggy manes) reacts with alcohol resulting in uncomfortable symptoms. Before eating any shaggy mane, learn to identify the one which causes this reaction, and its look-alikes.
  • Only eat fresh mushrooms.
    You wouldn’t eat moldy or rotting produce from the grocery store -the same should be true for wild mushrooms.
  • Do not eat fungi growing on ornamental trees. In some cases toxins in the wood may be incorporated into the fungal tissue. (A recent instance of illness in Eugene was reported from eating Laetiporus growing on black locust).
  • Be aware of where you are collecting your edibles.
    Mushrooms can readily pick up chemicals from the environment. Never consume edible species from a lawn where fertilizers or pesticides might have been applied. Avoid collecting along busy roads or anywhere near old dump sites. Do not eat fungi growing on ornamental trees. In some cases toxins in the wood may be incorporated into the fungal tissue. A recent instance of illness in Eugene was reported from eating Laetiporus (sulphur shelf or chicken-of-the-woods) growing on black locust.


ENJOY! Having an understanding and appreciation of the variety and beauty that surrounds us in the fungal world will enrich your diet and your life!

Version 2003.10

Forays — General Information

Liability Waiver

Participants on all trips will be asked to sign a standard waiver form.
To save time, you can download the waiver now (click here), print, sign, and bring it on the foray.
You can also download a PDF copy of our edibility guidelines (click here).

Equipment and Gear needed: *Always be prepared for wet conditions.*

*Most Important: A watch to keep track of the time.
*Rain gear, waterproof boots/shoes and a change of clothes and socks.
*Mushroom Basket, Pocket Knife, and/or soft brush for wiping mushrooms clean.
*Identification Books (optional, there will be identification on site),
*Lunch and some sweets or snacks that will give you energy to last through the day.
*A partner to survey with and help keep track of (can be assigned at foray).

Mushroom Picking Permits

You should always check with all the federal agencies on whose lands you may pick before the beginning of each mushroom season to find out what the latest regulations are. If you are not picking on federal lands, make sure that you have the correct type of permission from the landowner.

On CMS-sponsored forays we usually visit federal lands, and you may need a permit. Obtaining a FREE USE PERMIT from the Willamette National Forest office (downtown Eugene) or a Ranger District Office before the trip is strongly encouraged.(Click here for additional mushroom permit information)