A hike in the woods
Last week when I needed a few Chanterelles for a recipe I wanted to make I decided to search for them in the nearby Lorane Valley area. There are several spots that are fairly reliable for finding these golden wonders, so I drove there to try my luck. Sandy was busy doing other things so I made it a solo trip to the woods. At my first stop I was quickly greeted by a couple of eyeballs staring back at me. I frequently refer to this mushroom as the Eyeball Lepiota because that’s what they remind me of and more importantly because I can never remember their species name. I do believe them to be Lepiota magnispora only because I looked them up and made my best guess.
Not too far away from this interesting pair of mushrooms was a fresh sprouting of Western Grisettemushrooms. This fairly easy to identify mushroom is Amanita pachycolea. While it’s in a genus of some very bad hombres it is considered a good edible by some. The thick white membranous sack (Volva) at its base and patch of white on its cap along with deep grooves or furrows at the caps edge are good identifiers. The patch on its cap can disappear in time but the Volva and grooves will remain. That is until the mushroom gets so old you wouldn’t want to pick it anyway.
A little further into the woods I came upon another edible mushroom called Lactarius rubrilacteus or more commonly called the “Bleeding Milk Cap”. Its common name is somewhat of a misnomer since all species in the genus Lactarius lactate or bleed out some color of latex. Perhaps “Red Bleeding Milk Cap” would have been a little more appropriate, but hey, what do I know.
Well, my journey at spot number one was a big goose egg for turning up even a single Chanterelle mushroom so I moved on to spot number two. There I was also greeted with an assortment of mushroom species. The most interesting of the bunch was probably another Lactarius mushroom known as Lactarius Rubidus or more commonly called the “Candy Cap” mushroom. Those of us who have sought this mushroom out later in the harvesting season like it mostly for drying and making the famous Candy Cap Cookies. Its ability to create aroma compounds when dried and rehydrated add a maple syrup flavor to whatever bake good you add it to. While the Oregon version of this mushroom does not seem to be quite as aromatic as those harvested in California, it’s still worth giving this cute little mushroom a try in making your favorite maple flavored dessert.
Unfortunately, while I found some very interesting mushrooms, my second spot was also void of any Chanterelle activity. And true to the old adage of “the third time’s the charm”, there they were, not many but they were there. Although, it could have just as easily gone the way of “three strikes and you’re out”. Luckily, it was a bright spot in my mushroom hunting day and as a result I felt compelled to write this little poem to one of my favorite mushrooms that I call “Ode to the Oregon Chanterelle”.
Oh Chanterelle with your decurrent gills,
You’ve given me so many thrills.
Your golden color and fluted style,
always makes me want to smile.
With Hemlock, Spruce, and Douglas fir,
the Oregon trees with which you occur.
Playing so nicely with your woodland friends,
your loving embrace on their tiny root ends.
I sometimes see you in mid September,
and even as late as the month of December.
But something’s changing and not for the better,
your forest home is not getting any wetter.
Long hot summers and our lack of rain,
make it very hard for you to remain.
But at least today I can see your cap,
so very glad that you came back.
You little wonder that came up so late,
While I did need to try three different spots for a successful Chanterelle harvest, at least I did find enough to satisfy my dinner recipe requirements. So, if you’re out looking for your favorite edible and are having a difficult time finding them, take note of all the other mushrooms that did pop up. Although they may not be what you went out for, they still may inspire you to write a little poem about them.
Take care, stay safe, and happy mushroom hunting.