We're fond of the lovely 1859 Oregon Magazine and always look forward to receiving their new edition. We recently read Charlotte Dupont's joyful article, The Hunt for Spring Mushrooms, and would like to share it with you, our readers.
Every year we wait for this moment ... when the first reports of morels reach us by e-mail or by cell phone! Hurrah!
Truthfully, we had been concerned about this year's morel season. One of our dearest friends and most experienced morel gatherers had cautioned us over the phone last month that with such a relatively dry, mild winter in the Pacific Northwest, we shouldn't expect many morels. Well, thankfully, she was wrong, with a capital W.
We encountered these black morels (Morchella elata) under conifers in 2008. Note how well they blend with the pine cone in the lower left corner of the photograph.
On a somewhat regular basis, we receive correspondence and photographs from foragers who are seeking our assistance in identifying a mushroom. Frankly, this is not our area of expertise, and we’re always reluctant to offer an opinion. We respond to their e-mail, noting that for several reasons, not least of which is liability concerns, we are not able to identify mushrooms based on pictures and descriptions sent to us over the Internet, and hope that they will understand. We sincerely don't mean to come across as harsh or unhelpful or insensitive. Gathering wild mushrooms for the pot is a wonderful and rewarding hobby, but it needs to be approached responsibly. Picking wild mushrooms and choosing to consume them requires a significant amount of work and study, and it also requires a firm commitment to not take shortcuts.
We typically suggest that individuals who are seeking help with identification locate a mycological society close to where they live, and suggest that they get acquainted with the members and become active in the group. These mycological societies are a wonderful resource...and they're great fun, offering opportunities such as classes, field trips, monthly meetings with excellent and informative speakers, etc. with the opportunity for camaraderie with like-minded individuals.
From the video of National Geographic to the wireless bands of National Public Radio, the postage stamps detailed by Brian Luther in the December PSMS Newsletter, and the photographs of the gifted Taylor Lockwood (see selection below), all the world seems abuzz with bioluminescent fungi, i.e. fungi which are capable of producing light through a chemical reaction. We felt it might be time to tantalize you with some information we've heard being bantered about.
Bioluminescent fungi have been discovered around the world, in countries ranging from Brazil, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica to Japan, Malaysia and Madagascar. The majority of these are from the Mycena family of about 500 species worldwide. Only 71 species of fungi are believed to be bioluminescent, out of the 100,000 known species.
We all love a good story, especially when it features mushrooms and mushroomers! So we were delighted to discover the website, Oregon Mushroom Stories, which is composed of facts and factoids, some serious material and some clearly meant to be entertaining.
Unfortunately, it appears that the website may have fallen into neglect or been abandoned - the last posting that we could find was dated late in 2013. Nonetheless, much of the material at the website is timeless, and we believe that you'll find it an exceptionally good read!
Here's hoping that the creative team that helped Oregon Mushroom Stories to fruit in 2011 will soon be inspired to rejuvenate the project!
The new buzz word is Hamakua, that is, Hamakua Mushrooms. Located in the Hamakua District (natch!) on the Big Island with an ocean view on the northeast side, this farm is adding another layer of richness to Hawaii with its dedication to organic practices and sustainable philosophy.
It's the middle of November, and yet the days are consistently warm and wonderful. At 1:30 PM today the temperature's in the mid-60s, and the wind speed (Here at Port Orford, normally the windiest point on the Oregon coast!) measures 0.0 on our weather station. Shirt sleeve weather is the only way to describe it. It certainly makes it easy to head for the mushroom fields when the weather conditions are this favorable!
Yesterday's foray into the reserve revealed a world where mushrooms are still king. Golden chanterelles were the order of the day, but there were many other fungi fruiting as well.
The foray was spurred by curiosity more than anything else. We were curious as to what might be happening in our traditional hedgehog (Hydnum repandum) patch. We didn't expect to find hedgehogs because we usually don't encounter them until after the first freeze. However, we certainly didn't expect to find a collection of white chanterelles and yellow feet (Craterellustubaeformis) in the hedgehog patch, either. Typically, yellow feet show up in the reserve well after the first freeze.
Not all mushrooms are choice edibles. Some mushrooms are simply lovely photo opportunities!
Stephanie Pappas, a contributor for LiveScience.com, recently caught our attention with her list of “11 Odd Facts about ‘Magic’ Mushrooms,” i.e. mushrooms that contain the psychoactive ingredient psilocybin. We’re providing you with some teasers from the article that should send you scurrying to www.livescience.com for more information. Don’t hesitate to do so: you really need to read her entire article in order to get the full force of these claims. We’re thinking that the material may just give you another way of looking at our fungal world!
1. Mushrooms hyper connect the brain – “Psilocybin actually boost the brain’s connectivity … while under the influence of the drug, the brain synchronizes activity among areas that would not normally be connected.”
2. They slow it down – “Slowing down the activity in areas such as the thalamus may allow information to travel more freely throughout the brain…”
3. Magic mushrooms go way back – 9,000 year old rock art in the Sahara may depict hallucinogenic mushrooms.
4. Magic mushrooms explain Santa … maybe – Here’s where it gets a little quirky but really timely, considering that Christmas is just around the corner. Sierra College anthropologist John Rush is reported to have “said that Siberian shamans used to bring gifts of hallucinogenic mushrooms to households each winter. Reindeer were the spirit animals of these shaman, and ingesting mushrooms might just convince a hallucinating tribe member that those animals could fly. Plus, Santa's red-and-white suit looks suspiciously like the colors of the mushroom species Amanita muscaria, which grows — wait for it — under evergreen trees.”
Yes, there is a striking similarity between these amanita and Santa's suit, but ...
We were delighted to find Terry Richard's article in the August 31, 2014 edition of The Oregonian newspaper detailing the matsutake regulations in our beaver state. This is the kind of information that's really useful for everyone, whether you're picking for your pot or for the mushroom buyer down the street.