ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Wild Mushrooms I Have Known

Updated on September 25, 2010

Some of the mushrooms I've found

Boletus mushrooms come in a wide variety of colors, but the basic form is consistent.
Boletus mushrooms come in a wide variety of colors, but the basic form is consistent.
Oyster mushrooms are highly popular and can be easily grown by the connoisseur.
Oyster mushrooms are highly popular and can be easily grown by the connoisseur.
Morels are highly prized as they have a wonderful flavor that works for many dishes. Chefs will pay a good price for fresh morels.
Morels are highly prized as they have a wonderful flavor that works for many dishes. Chefs will pay a good price for fresh morels.
Chantrelles are also highly prized and the season is rather limited. These also fetch a high price. How wonderful if you can find your own.
Chantrelles are also highly prized and the season is rather limited. These also fetch a high price. How wonderful if you can find your own.
There is a large amount of literature based on this single mushroom, the amanita muscaria. which is one of the most easily distinguished mushrooms.
There is a large amount of literature based on this single mushroom, the amanita muscaria. which is one of the most easily distinguished mushrooms.

The exicting world of mushrooms and fungi

To gather mushrooms from the wild can be a challenging, but rewarding experience and not without its risks. This is not a hobby or a practice for someone who is looking for wild edible mushrooms who does not have a good grounding in mycology (the study of mushrooms and fungi). At the outset, the author states that the field of mycology is vast and thus this is only an introductory guideline and not a thorough expose of this fascinating subject. It is advised to be absolutely sure with what you are dealing with as far as an individual mushroom is concerned. For this, one should consult a knowledgeable and reputable mycologist (a person who is an expert on mushrooms and fungi). If you are not absolutely certain of the edibility of a particular mushroom, it is better not to take the risk. There are a lot of mimics in this field that can be mistaken for edible varieties with fatal or injurious consequences. Differences can so minor that even the expert can be fooled. There are many reasons why a person would seek out and gather mushrooms from the wild. These reasons can include the following.


  • Wild edible mushrooms for the dinner plate like Chantrelles, Oyster, Ponderosa and Boletus

  • Financial reward for sought after, but rare mushroom delights like morels and truffles.

  • The potential of finding an intoxicating or hallucinogenic mushroom such as the Amanita Pantera or Muscaria, or pysilocybin

  • Learning about harmful fungi such as those in the garden and how to control them

  • The sheer joy of finding something unique

  • Advancing one's knowledge in this vast field


Mushrooms are a fascinating and large group of species that can be subdivided into several main sub-groups. They do not live by photosynthesis, nor are they animals that hunt. They are a whole category of life in and of themselves. They live primarily by feeding off decaying matter and breaking down toxins as a result. Some incorporate the toxins for their own protection. Alternately, mushrooms and fungi form symbiotic relationships with various species of trees and shrubs, such as the relation between the Amanita Muscaria with the birch tree. It is said that mushrooms are the recyclers of the earth, keeping everything healthy for other forms of life. They show up in virtually all types of land based ecosystems except for barren deserts, frozen wastelands and solid rocks. In the ocean, the more common form is mycelia fungi that can grow on fish and other hosts. Mushrooms love moisture and can be seen from spring to fall, but primarily the fall as there is plenty of dying leaves and plant material to feed on. Some species, like the morels, prefer post burn areas of the forest and typically grow two to five years after a forest fire has razed an area.


The typical mushroom consists mostly of mycelium, which is often below the surface of the earth and out of sight for the entire year. These are thread like structures that grow underground, searching for and feeding off any decaying organic matter below the surface of the earth all year round. Not all fungi live off dead organic matter, as some are parasites on living plants and animals. During fruiting season, the mycelia will come together to form a fruiting body which will break through the surface of the earth on a stem and a cap that contains the spores, the offspring for future mushroom colonies. Mushrooms are totally asexual and reproduce purely by spores that are clones of the parent. The spores are microscopic and are dispersed in the lightest breeze. The fruiting body of the mushroom typically lasts only for a few days and then dies off, sometimes to be absorbed by a different species of mycelia. The fruiting body can be any size and of numerous configurations. They may sprout individually or in large groups. In most cases, when you see them in a group, they are typically the same organism, all interconnected by a far more vast underground network of mycelium. In your mushroom hunt, you will find types that have the following basic forms.

  • The typical button or cap form

  • The trumpet shape

  • The sponge-like form

  • Branching coral appearing often white or grey

  • The cone shaped cap with narrow stem

  • Elongated cone shaped

  • Dry and leathery

  • Very moist and slimy

  • Rounded form that puffs out a cloud of spores when stepped on

  • ruffled and wavy form

  • Fan shaped

  • Big mushrooms with small ones growing on them like branches

  • A mix of these

  • In addition, the under cap gill structure may be either

  • even gilled

  • branched gilled

  • porous

  • sponge form

  • non existant

Of all the mushrooms that are out there, the author is familiar with chantrelles, morels, boletus, russela, oyster, amanita, pysilocybin and some of their variants. Many of these have been “tamed” recently with our advancing knowledge of mycology, so an interesting variant to finding these mushroom jewels, is to gather spores and grow some yourself.


Some mycologists now offer packages with spores already in a substrate that the mycelium prefers. This is purchased, placed in a suitable location and kept damp. In as little as six weeks, one can have mushroom fruiting bodies. The varieties now available consist of oyster, ponderosa, chantrelles, white and brown money's type mushrooms and several others. Just a few years ago, one was restricted to oyster and the white buttons. With increasing knowledge of fungi, a wide variety is now available for home growth.


Chantrelles are often orange in colour and vary in size from a few centimetres to about 15 centimetres tall and can be a few centimetre to 10 across. They invariably have a ruffled cap, indented in the center with an undulating rim. The gills form from the bottom of the stem to the edge of the rim and often branch, being quite pronounced at the top. They prefer rotting stumps and wooded areas where there is a lot of moisture. Expect to find them in September and October in the Pacific north west and away from populated areas. Chantrelles are highly desirable and many people hunt them for resale


Morels are also sought after and only grow where a forest fire has razed a part of the forest. You have to wait two years after the forest fire, but not longer than five years. The first bloom is often the best. Morels can be grey or brown in colour and range in size of several centimetres to 15 for the larger ones. They have a distinctive sponge-like cap with large pores over the entire surface, which itself is rather variegated and lumpy in appearance. There is also a false morel, that has nowhere near the taste of the coveted morel. When they are out, professional pickers will descend on burn outs and hunt for them to fetch a good price on the international market.


Oyster mushrooms are prized for their oyster like taste and grow from multiple stems to form half round fan caps as an extension of the stem. They are usually a light shade of Paine's grey. Oyster mushrooms are usually commercially available and kits to grow your own are easily available. They range in size from a few centimetres to almost half a metre for the largest.


Boletus type of mushrooms have a wide range of colours and sized, even in a single type. Typically, they have a wide variety of stems from thin to almost as thick as the cap in the same type and usually bulbous at the bottom. The cap can be flat and thick or rounded. The gill structure is porous. As the colours produced are a wide variety, even in the context of a single type of boletus, the best guide is to consult a work on Boletus types or a mycologist.


Almost everyone knows the Amanita Muscaria with it's distinctive red cap with white spots and white stem with a skirt. Often considered poisonous, the amanita variety is in actuality, mildly intoxicating. You would have to literally eat up to 15 plate sized caps to have negative toxic effects. No one can eat that many! If you can manage to eat a cap, then you will be as intoxicated as having consumed a couple of pints of beer. The effect will last for a few hours and gradually wear off. Different people react differently to amanita muscaria, some with almost no effect and others who may feel a need to vomit. The watchword here is to take only a bit and work your way up to your comfort zone. They come up appearing as a small white egg shape that breaks through to expose a bright red button covered with white spots. This expands in a day to three to a large flat cap with a pronounced gill structure that ends at the stem. Just before they disintegrate, the cap will fold up exposing the gills. The whole process unfolds in about four days and for the Pacific northwest, the season is late September through October.


As an aspiring mycologist among other activities, the author is still in the learning curve of mushroom hunting and gathering. There are a huge number of books on the subject and it is highly recommended to get a resource and to have a mycologist as a friend for your foray into the wilds.


References


http://www.mykoweb.com/


Some indispensible mushroom and fungi resources

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • syzygyastro profile imageAUTHOR

      William J. Prest 

      6 years ago from Vancouver, Canada

      Mushrooms can be easily dried, resoaked and cooked. Just go to Chinatown to see the wide variety of dried mushrooms.

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 

      6 years ago

      Mushrooms are healthy. But remember to always cook mushrooms before eating. Cooking releases the nutrients from the mushroom. And some button mushroom have a natural carcinogen that is neutralized when cooking.

      Reference: https://hubpages.com/food/Mushrooms-Needs-to-be-Co...

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 

      8 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      Useful. I used to eat some wild mushrooms. One that I particularly liked were giant puffballs. In those days I lived in a country area. I dont think I would eat anything that grows in the city. Magic mushrooms were the craze that we all indulged in at this time of year. Then the government made possession of them illegal. Occasionally some people had bad reactions, but I thought they were brilliant. They slowed down the perception of time amongst other amazing effects. Those were the days.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)