Mushooms

Mushooms

I would like to start off this webpage with something that gives me great joy.  Wild mushrooms.  I have been foraging for wild edibles since I was a teenager.  Every spring, summer and fall I will go out as much as I can to pick whatever is growing at that particular time.  It is great to be out in nature. 

I will be highlighting two easily identifiable mushrooms.  These two are easy to find if you know where to look.  The search should not take a person too far off the beaten path, nor should it take them places that are too dangerous like cliff sides or over any raging rivers.  For the sake of simplicity I will be referring to the mushrooms with their common names.  Generic names and specific epithets may come later in detailed identification posts. 

Some mushroom identification terms here:  Cap is the thing that grows on top.  Stem is the thing that the cap is attached to.  Reticulation is a net like pattern on a stem of specific mushrooms.  Pore surface is the thing under the cap that can be gills or spongy, or if you’re talking morels, the cap.  Confused?  Good.  Let’s move on. 

Morels go first.  Mainly because they show up first – in spring to early summer, mid-May if it’s a really hot spring to mid-June.   I have found morels growing in freshly disturbed soil, after wildland fires, and growing in south facing slopes under deciduous trees.  These can be found growing as a single mushroom or in clumps, ranging in size from too small to pick up to six or seven inches.  They are conical in shape with a stalk that is connected directly to the cap.  Morels have a series of pits and ridges.  There are lookalikes that bear a resemblance to a morel, but they have key characteristics that make them different.  A morel will have a cap that is attached to the stalk at the base of the cap and when it is sliced in half lengthwise, the mushroom will look like it is all one piece. 

King boletes show up later in the summer season – generally late July to fall.  They range in size from 1 inch button to one foot tall monsters.  The cap of a king bolete will look like a hamburger bun or a well-browned pancake, tan closer to the outside and darker brown towards the center.  And the caps can be slimy if wet.  The pore surface will be spongy and lighter colored, smooth in younger specimens.  The stem will be a light color with a netting pattern or reticulation.  These mushrooms are easy to identify and will grow in enough quantity to make a good addition to a meal.  I steer clear of larger king boletes because they tend to be buggy. 

Both mushrooms are pictured here. 

NOTE:  It is generally wise to go out with a knowledgeable friend to identify your first edible mushrooms.  Study up – read a book from the library, read about them on a web page.  Do not just pick any old mushroom and eat it.  If in doubt, leave it.  There’s no harm in admiring a mushroom and letting it be.  Please do not overharvest mushrooms either.  It is wise to only pick and clean as much as you feel like cooking that night.  Fresh wild mushrooms do not store well – so cook and preserve or eat what you pick that day.