June 29 – even more mushrooms…

Sometimes I worry a bit about my current obsession with mushrooms taking over this journal, about not focusing enough on the animal or vegetable kingdoms.  I think that with a project like this, it’s all about change and observation of change.  One’s eyes are drawn to what is different, what wasn’t there yesterday or last week or last month.  Early in the year, in the stark drab colors of winter, any bit of green stands out.  As spring picks up momentum, the plants and trees take over with bright flowers and newly-hatched leaves.  By the end of spring, things get a bit more static.  Most of the spring flowers have done their job of pollinating and showing off, now the plants and bushes are just packing on as much growth as possible during the long wet days closest to the solstice.  The leaves, having grown to full size, are now doing their work of feeding the tree that grew them.   There’s a lot of vegetative growth going on, but none of it is in that shocking “just appeared today” sort of way.

So now we’ve got mushrooms.  The next four months, July-October are the high season for mushrooms– many many species fruit between midsummer and mid-fall, and most days when I go out, I’m still seeing species that I hadn’t yet seen.  And there’s always such a thrill from finding a choice edible, even if it’s not the first of the year.  It really seems that the growth and decay of mushrooms is the most dynamic thing happening in the woods during this season, where you experience the satisfaction of walking into a familiar piece of the woods and encountering something that just wasn’t there the last time you visited.  So, mushrooms…

like this primo two-color bolete that I discovered quite close to my house on Friday evening…Image

And yet another beautiful patch of chanterelles that I spotted as I was on my way to do some recording on Saturday morning.Image

They’re as pretty as they are tasty!

Image

I came back in the afternoon to harvest them, then continued on for a short loop through the woods, accompanied by my younger son who is equally obsessed with finding edible mushrooms.  We didn’t spot much for a while (outside of the ubiquitous Russulas, several poisonous Amanitas, and some shrively wood clitocybes), then I came across two large “old man of the woods” specimens in quite good shape.   Having heard that they can be eaten, I collected them for future tastings (Sunday AM update:  while technically edible, they are far inferior to the other boletes and chanterelles that can also be found this time of year).  Image

Another first of the year– puffballs!  This lot had already started to change colors on the inside, but later on in the walk we encountered a solitary one on the forest floor that was pure white on the inside.Image

A cool thing about boletes is that you don’t have to identify every specimen in order to eat it.  If the pores underside aren’t orange or red and the mushroom doesn’t stain blue when you cut it open, then you know it’s not poisonous (there are boletes with one or both of these characteristics that can be eaten, but in those cases you have to be more careful in the identification).  This one was either a chestnut, admirable, or king bolete.  Whatever it was, it was plump, fleshy, free of worms, and delicious.  It was also growing along the edge of a wood-splitting yard, in extremely compacted soil that the tractor had driven over many times.  Go figure…Image

Just a little baby bolete.  I didn’t have the heart to pick it.Image

We walked by one of the spots where I harvested Reishi in the early spring.  It’s been fun watching them grow back over the spring and summer.  Now that I know where they all are growing, I can wait until the end of the fall and harvest them at their peak (leaving the mycelium intact in the stump, of course).  Image

Returning to my house, I came across a whole bunch of these worm-like fungi.  My guidebook identifies it as “white worm coral,” and it’s supposedly edible– according to Wikipedia, “Clavaria fragilis is edible, but the fruit bodies are insubstantial and fragile.[13] One field guide says “its flesh is tasteless and so delicate that it seems to dissolve in one’s mouth.”   I haven’t eaten any yet, but I might give it a try and let you know how that goes…Image

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One response to “June 29 – even more mushrooms…

  1. nice writing, Ez!

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