Showing posts with label mushrooms. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mushrooms. Show all posts

August 13, 2019

Hawk's Wing in Hiding


This is Sarcodon imbricatus, known to its friends as hawk's wing — or hedgehog mushroom, but there are no hedgehogs in North America, ergo we don't use that name.

Some people say they can be bitter, but I, my wife, and Wild Food Girl like them.  There is a soup recipe in the download at the link, or see this.

August 07, 2019

Things that Grow from White Fir Stumps

Another fir seedling. It is not growing from the stump's
root system, but from a seed that started in the decayed sump.

A mushroom. Yes, it is attached.

A rock. I figured it was attached as well.

August 10, 2017

Off to See the King

King bolete. Slightly past its prime, but with careful trimming and slicing,
onto the drying screen it goes.



After last Friday's hailstorm left our vegetable gardens looking bombed and machine-gunned, there was only one thing left to look forward to — mushroom season.

I envy people who live in wetter climates like Alaska and the Pacific Northwest for this one thing: they can hunt mushrooms much of the year. We get some in the early summer, but the frenzy starts in August.

The first part of the week produced a flush of "slippery jacks" (Suillus granulatus) near the house. They are boletes but low-grade ones (from the eating standpoint)  that quickly turn wormy and mushy — the window for picking them lasts about two days.  M. says that they are "too bland" but dries and adds them to her vegetable soup stock mixture.

Today M. and I  drove up to the mountainside that we call The Mushroom Store, and the first thing we saw was a car parked in "our spot," a little pullout that I like because it is is a couple hundred yards from where the picking starts, instead of right beside it. I pulled onto a nearby old logging road instead, and we got out as quietly as we could.

We started toward the first area that we always check — and saw movement through the trees. Time for another route. We wear muted colors and communicate with little whistles and hand gestures. You never know, there might be Russians.

So we faded off into the woods and in about an hour had 23 pounds of mushrooms, mostly boletes with some hawk's wings. That made for a couple of hours of processing — the dehydrator full and laboring, screens all over the greenhouse, another screen on the hood of M's Jeep in the garage — for now, because it's raining. We will be dancing them in and out of the sunshine for the next two days.

All this rain — the high water, flash floods, sandbagging — at least it's producing mushrooms here in the Southern Rockies.

May 17, 2017

People Who Run With Dogs Are Doing It Wrong

Hoedad (Forestry Suppliers).
• "And it might seem harmless to push especially active breeds beyond what their owners do themselves, for example by having them run alongside a bicycle. Some can handle this, but apparently not all."

• Intersectional squirrels transgressing ontological boundaries. Or something. The weirdest, most contorted, theory-obsessed (in a stumbling mechanistic way) sort of academic paper on wildlife you will ever read.  Usually it's grad students who write like this. But Teresa Lloro-Bidart has, presumably, a tenure-track job.

• I have swung my hoedad and planted a few trees in my time. So did Dad in his forestry-student days. We did not know about innoculating them with fungi, but thanks to people like mycologist Paul Stamets, the idea is catching on, as shown in this spruce-planting video.

UPDATE: Second link fixed. Sorry.

June 17, 2016

The Mushroom Hunter, Her Dog, the Wolf, and the Bears

This is a "lost mushroom hunter" story with a twist. Joanne Barnaby, a resident of Canada's Northwest Territories tells the Washington Post how she and her dog were stalked by a wolf who tried for hours to separate them.
[She[ had been picking mushrooms in the remote Canadian wilderness [on June 10th ] when she had heard a growl behind her. She turned around and saw Joey, her faithful mutt, locked in a snarling standoff with a skinny black wolf.
Then a chance encounter with another top predator led a plan to extricate herself and Joey from what felt like a losing game.

Some people accuse her of being a nature-faker, claiming "wolves don't do that." (They're just furry angels who want bring us spiritual blessings.) She says otherwise, vehemently.

November 18, 2015

Mushrooms: Manipulating Your Mind . . . and the Weather?


Helen Macdonald's latest New York Times column is on mushroom hunting, in which she observes,
Hunting for mushrooms can feel surprisingly like hunting animals, particularly if you’re searching for edible species. Looking for chanterelles, I’ve found myself walking on tiptoe across mossy stumps as if they might hear me coming. It’s a bad idea to walk around and try to spot them directly. They have an uncanny ability to hide from the searching eye. 
And they can change your perception too — and I am not talking about the designated "hallucinogenic" mushrooms either, but the ones we eat for food. 

Beyond that, some researchers suggest that mushrooms can make it rain. Their spores are like cloud-seeding.
“We can watch big water droplets grow as vapor condenses on (the mushroom spore’s) surface,” said senior author Nicholas Money of Miami University’s Biology Department. “Nothing else works like this in nature.”
Read the rest.

July 27, 2015

Four-legged Forager

Suillus americanus (Wikimedia Commons).
July rains brought a brief flush of Slippery Jack mushrooms (Suillus americanus) near the house. We don't see them every year; it takes wet weather to bring out the mushrooms in this ponderosa pine-Douglas fir-Gambel oak environment.

 I collected a few on morning dog walks for drying— they turn wormy very quickly, and many that look good are not. The flavor is OK, nothing special, but they are mushrooms and picking them fulfills the Hunting and Gathering Imperative.

But someone was watching.

Twice this morning Fisher the dog darted into the oak brush and started munching. He was after the mushrooms — and he does not care if they are dessicated and/or wormy. (We have to keep him away from screens of drying mushrooms at home.)

So this is another one of those dog-behavior conundrums. Does he like mushrooms naturally, or does he like them because they are People Food and hence higher-status than Dog Food?

M. says that he is a dog out of place (but then she says that a lot). If we had truffles, he could have easily been trained to find them.

Given his love for finding dead stuff in the woods, he could have been an outstanding corpse-searching dog too.

July 10, 2015

Looking for the Gifts of Rain

Old cabins in the rain with broad-tailed hummingbird
On the 4th of July, walking in the Sangres, I found two boletes near the trail — and they were already a little past their prime. Then came more rain— five inches (0.25 Egyptian cubits) since Saturday — and further mushrooming was postponed, until last night, when M. and I thought we had a chance.

We wanted to check an area in the Wet Mountains that seemed promising for early, lower-altitude foraging, but about half a mile along, it started to pour.

We ended up at the old lodge, watching hummingbirds dart under the eaves while we had coffee and cherry pie.

RIGHT: The large mushroom is Agaricus silvicola,  I think, and if so, not edible.

Twenty years from now, whenever someone says "It's been a rainy spring," the retort will be, "This is nothing compared to 2015."

In one nearby town, the precipitation is at 209 percent of the average year-to-date figure. And the summer monsoon season is just beginning.

A double rainbow formed briefly over the lake, while anglers with inadequate rain gear walked past, heading for their cars or cabins.

September 17, 2014

A Quick Journey to Fungal Paradise

The Anchorage-Seward train running past Kenai Lake
Semi-free range mycophiles
Just back from Anchorage, a trip that was part work and part pleasure. Alaska is outside the remit of this blog, but I wanted to record a few images none the less.

The train photo is from the Coastal Classic train, almost purely a tourist train, where the engineer slows way down when the onboard guide announces a moose or bear sighting. The water is Kenai Lake.

My hosts are extraordinary urban foragers, and their 8-year-old son celebrated his birthday by inviting some of his friends to go mushroom hunting, which is to say that some hunted mushrooms (none knew as much as he already does) while others just ran around waving sticks, but it was all good. Afterwards, ice cream.

Some of the moms and dads were there too, to keep an eye on the kids and watch out for free-range moose. But actually, when the boy and I went geocaching in another of Anchorage's large and mostly wild city parks, it was he who spotted the moose while I was busy looking at the GPS receiver!

I was seeing mushrooms that I knew only from books, and there were countless other colorful fungi to photograph and marvel at.

Coming home, the 737's overhead bins were full of fishing rod cases, and yes, I was a little envious, but at least I had a bag of Alaska gold (Phaeolepiota aurea) in my suitcase.
Delicate, lovely, don't know what it is.
Young Alaska gold mushroom, Phaeolepiota aurea. See also the red box that the boy is holding.

August 27, 2014

Dodging Anatoly and Other Mushroom Thoughts

Emerging king bolete.

"Anatoly"

Baskets were stacked in the pickup's bed — big, flat-bottomed baskets with integral handles — serious mushroom-collecting baskets.

I had just parked M's Jeep at the edge of a little clear-cut, a spot close to but not too close to the place we call "the mushroom store." We were standing behind it, her looking sort of woods-ninja, all in black with binocular slung, me in the red shirt I wore so that she could keep track of me. No packs, no baskets, no bags.

That pickup came up the narrow rocky Forest Service road and stopped, "Finding any mushrooms?" asked the driver. He was  a big guy with a pronounced Eastern European or Russian accent.

"We're looking for elk,*" I answered. Sorry, Anatoly, you think I am going to tell you? Archery season was two weeks away at that point, so scouting is a reasonable thing to be doing in the boreal forest.

He and his passenger drove off and turned onto another little logging road that went right to "the store." But then we heard doors slamming, and we saw the truck coming out again as we slung our packs (each holding several string or cloth shopping bags) and walked into the woods

Hunting mushrooms is like hunting elk in this respect: You do better away from roads. The farther we walked, the more we saw. When we saw big boletes next to one of the old logging roads, I knew that "Anatoly" had not ventured that far.

Snobbery

The local Search & Rescue (SAR) group drops hints about some kind of Chicago (Polish immigrant) — Wet Mountains pipeline: unprepared flatlanders getting dropped off to hunt mushrooms and becoming lost. ("Anatoly" did not strike me as one of those.) Apparently they are out there somewhere.

I have always felt there was a sort of snobbery with SAR: the mountain climbers they pluck (dead or alive) off peaks like Crestone Needle are idiots, but heroic idiots. The lost mushroom hunters are laughable idiots, "old ladies," etc., in their re-telling. But you won't get easily lost mushroom-hunting if you know to walk uphill — the roads are on the ridges. And blown-down trees usually point northeast. (I have relied on both of those bits of knowledge at one time or another.)

Is This All There Is?

We cut and cleaned mushrooms part of two days, filling the electric dehydrator and the screens in the greenhouse. Now that they are in jars, will the season allow us another hunt? But once the storage shelf in the basement is full, I find my desire changing

It is like the old fly-fishing dictum: First you want to catch fish, then you want to catch the most fish, then you want to catch the most difficult fish.

First I want to find "good" mushrooms, then I want to find lots of mushrooms and then . . . maybe I want to learn more about all those mushrooms that I walk past, whether they are "good" or not.
________
* OK, if the Huichol Indians, while on their sacred peyote hunt, can refer to the cactus buttons as "deer," I can refer to Boletus edulis as "elk"—especially as the elk do eat them. I saw some with cervid tooth marks and only the stems remaining.

August 23, 2014

Would You Eat Amanita if David Arora Cooked It?

David Arora's book All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms  is one of our favorites, right after Vera Evenson's Mushrooms of Colorado and the Southern Rocky Mountains. (His magnum opus is Mushrooms Demystified.)

So with that expertise, would you sit down to a steaming plate of Amanita muscaria (fly agaric) if he cooked them?

Wild-food blogger Langdon Cook did and got an education.

More than any other species, though, Arora is known for serving his guests Amanita muscaria. This practice is not uncontroversial. Amanita muscaria, also known as the fly agaric for its ancient use as a pesticide, is generally considered by English-language field guides to be a dangerous toxic mushroom. It’s been documented as a hallucinogen and used as a drug by social groups as varied as middle-class American hippies and Siberian reindeer herders, and occasionally it’s implicated in deaths, though not directly. In one recent case a victim ate the mushroom for its psychotropic effects and died of hypothermia.
But, as Arora points out in his workshops, Amanita muscaria is also used as food. It turns out the mushroom can be easily detoxified and consumed.

But you still get the feeling that Cook is torn between his desire to write honestly and worries about telling people to go eat any kind of Amanita.

August 02, 2014

Walking in the Wets


I apologize to everyone whose email I did not answer or whose editing job I am behind schedule on, but yesterday despite (because of?) the rainy week, I just had to get out of this house. So M., the dog, and I took a walk in the rainy forest and found some mushrooms, some to admire and some to eat.

The Wet Mountains were living up to their name. All the pores of the forest were open. That is Lake Isabel down below.


April 22, 2014

Fire Fungus after the Black Forest Fire

Wandering through the burnt woods around their school, students at the School in the Woods in Black Forest, northeast of Colorado Springs, discover a "fire fungus" never before seen in Colorado.
Experts identified it as the rare Neottiella hetieri, a fire fungus that has been found only twice before in the entire country and never in our state.
Video at the link from KKTV, Colorado Springs.

August 27, 2013

Mammoths, Mushrooms, and Extinction

Coprophilic fungus offers a clue to the extinction of North American mammoths, seeming to point away from the "Pleistocene overkill" hypothesis. Maybe.

The debate continues here at the Vanished Giants blog.

(I chose the title for the alliteration. It is fungus but not really a mushroom. But it was on the Cornell Mushroom Blog. OK?)

August 16, 2013

Monsoon on the Conejos (3) Pagosa Springs & Assorted Mushroom Thoughts

Boletus edulis in the Wet Mountains
Saturday the 10th was our last full day of the camping trip. I put away the fly rods and picked more mushrooms (and wild strawberries) on Cumbres Pass, then drove on west through Chama, N.M, to Pagosa Springs.

I had planned to be in Pagosa the previous weekend for a state-sponsored fire class, but it was cancelled, so this was sort of a consolation visit.

In Pagosa, the weather was warm, and the San Juan River was running high and brown. Tubing outfitters were busy shuttling their customers to the east side of town so that they could ride down past the city park and the mineral springs, where the terraces were crowded with bathers.

In the midst of this "rubber hatch," I saw one guy casting a spinning rod. I thought of congratulating him for upholding the archetype of the always-optimistic fisherman, but he gave up and walked away.

We visited a couple of thrift stores—nothing exciting—where does all the outdoor gear go?—and then had a late lunch/early supper at the Riff-Raff brew pub ("Hoppy people. Hoppy earth").

I reckoned that my cabrito burger with Hatch green chiles was sort of quasi-locavore-ish.

It rained steadily most of the way back to the campground.

The next morning I observed a mulie doe moving strangely through the woods. She had her nose down like a dog following a scent trail.

Was she eating mushrooms? I had picked a few in that area, mostly Suillis  ("slippery jacks"). I tried to follow, but I could not get too close without spooking her, and there were a lot of spruce boughs in the way.

I did see some Suillis that had been scraped by what looked like a deer's lower incisors (Deer don't have upper incisors.) Were there fewer mushrooms than before? Not sure.

Two days later, having done well on a mushroom hunt closer to home, M. and I were easing down a rough forest road in the Jeep when we saw a squirrel wrestling — or something — in the road. It turned out to be trying to carry the stem of a Boletus edulis ("king bolete"), which was nearly as big as it was.

Yesterday M. was walking Fisher on lead down the driveway when he dashed into the oak brush, dragging her along. He had scented another bolete, one unfortunately past its prime. It was probably another Boletus chrysenteron, which grows under oaks, like the one he snarfed off the kitchen counter a few days ago.

Does this mean that he might have a talent for finding good mushrooms? If the French have truffle-sniffing dogs, could we have a Southern Rockies bolete-sniffing dog? Further research is required.

August 13, 2013

Monsoon on the Conejos (1)

We brought a screen for drying mushrooms.
The campground host's name tag said "Noah." That should have been a hint.*

M. and I set out Thursday for a camping trip to the Conejos River. I had looked at the stream flow online, and it was up from July's average, but I still had this picture in my mind from other late-summer trips: clear waters, a slight crispness in the air.

Just getting there had its moments. When we stopped in Antonito to get some snacks from the trailer, people driving by kept looking at us. Sure, Antonito seems a little insular, but why the stares?

Maybe it was because the Jeep and the pop-up trailer were liberally coated with mud.

Conditions on the Secret Cut-off Road had been worse than I had expected. Seeing the trailer in the rear-view mirror going sideways is unsettling. All I could think was, "This would be worse if I were going downhill."

We kept going and later in the afternoon reached the Forest Service campground that was our destination. About 5:30 p.m. it started raining. That would be the pattern: two-hour downpours each afternoon or evening.

But with a hot meal, wine, a good book, and a Coleman lantern, all was good.

Friday morning I got up (mist-filtered sun), put on hip boots, and walked to one of my favorite fishing spots. The river looked like chocolate milk. A tributary stream was re-enacting the June run-off.

Walking back to the campground, I picked a few mushrooms. That would be the theme.

(to be continued)

* No, there was no name tag. I am joking.

August 05, 2013

Fisher's New Job

Walking the dogs yesterday morning, I picked a mushroom not far from the house, a bolete,  but not one that I knew

I left it on the kitchen counter while I fed them, then got busy with other stuff.

After M. was working at the same counter, I asked her if she had seen it.

No, she had not. It was nowhere to be found.

The obvious suspect was lying on a rug by the front door: Fisher — Raider of Kitchen Counters, Eater of Everything.

Going from memory, I checked the mushroom book, and it looked like I had had Boletus chrysenteron, which is edible. (From Fisher's viewpoint, if it fits in his mouth, it is edible.)

Mushroom taster, that can be his new job.

July 16, 2013

A Truce with Summer

The higher you go, the wetter it looks.
It has rained more than three inches at the house  this month, which is great, but we are still in "extreme drought," say the meteorologists.

But the dampness, temporary as it may be, eased my mind. For the first time, it felt as though summer was not the enemy.

M. and I wondered if any mushrooms were coming up at higher elevations. So we went into the misty mountains.

We tried "The Mushroom Mine," and saw only one or two inedible varieties. As I drove up the Forest Service road, I spotted an excellent bolete nearby. Oh no, said the cook, it's too close to the road! Mushrooms soak up pollution!

And that would be the only one we saw, even up at the area we call The Mushroom Store. But there were flowers.
Yellow: some kind of Potentilla, I think. White: yarrow.
This flower I am not sure of. Anyone?

Columbines are the state flower, and you are required by law to photograph them.
And we shall return — even if the foothills dry out again.

UPDATE: Al Schneider at Southwest Colorado Wildflowers suggests that the mystery yellow flower above is a species of Corydalis and that the Potentilla is specifically Potentilla gracilis variety pulcherrima. Thanks!

August 17, 2012

When It Comes to Mushroom-Hunting . . .

. . . I am glad that I do not live in one of the chic parts of Colorado.

Otherwise, instead of trying to out-maneuver mysterious Russians, I would be coping with the luxury trade.
Within minutes, legal recruiter Morgan Warren, 36, of Houston had cut a mushroom the size of a portobello. An hour later, while sipping wine, snacking and sitting in camp chairs the Four Season staff brought, the group reconvened to examine the dozens of mushrooms they had collected. . . . . Then it was back to the SUVs, which dropped everyone off at an aspen grove to stomp through a thicket of prickly plants and fallen logs to find more species.
Apparently they go out, pick everything in sight, and then let some expert hired by the Four Seasons Resort at Vail. tell them what is what.

It is sort of like the way that Sir George Gore went hunting in the Rocky Mountains in the 1850s: Shoot everything, and let the guides sort them out.
"That was the takeaway for me — how bad I was at mushroom picking," quipped Warren's husband, David Warren. "I picked 99 pounds of mushrooms, none of which I can eat."

August 02, 2012

Mushroom Days: The Russians are Coming

Hawkswings and boletes, mostly.

It's been raining some (although not enough at our house), so M. and I decided to go mushroom hunting.

We went once last week, but brought back only about half a shopping bag's worth. Today was better.

We had filled two bags at the place we call The Mushroom Store when M., who was closer to the narrow Forest Service road, heard a car pass and then stop. Then we heard a man shouting something in the woods.

She came over to me. "He's calling, 'Anya! Natalia!,' " she said. "I thought that I heard kids."

"Oh, ****," I said, "Russians!" Notable mycophiles, those Russians.

Keeping in touch with soft, bird-like whistles, we faded away through the thick firs, crossed a barbed-wire drift fence at a place where we knew it was broken, and circled off down the ridge.

If they spotted us walking towards the Jeep with our heavy bags, we would be coming from the exact opposite direction from where we picked most of the 'shrooms. This is just basic Mushroom Tactics 101.

As quietly as we could, we drove away.

Then we tried another stop, hiking up a washed-out old road to a small mine. The road was just blossoming with Amanitas, but we found more king boletes as well. It's going to be a good year.


Some other blog posts about mushrooms in the Wet Moutains.