A fellow mushroom hunter brought me a couple young plants that look very much like these photos. He thought that they were some kind of mushroom. This is the fringed pinesap, Pleuricospora fimbriolata, a plant with no chlorophyll. There are other types of these plants that you may see more often, i.e. indian pipe or pine drops. Fringed pinesap is also quite strange and changes appearance in different stages. Note that the seed heads in the last photo look nothing like the young shoots. The most interesting thing about these type of plants is they are generally parasitic on fungi mycelium. The fungi mycelium are in a helpful relationship with trees or shrubs (mycorrhizal) but these plants are “mycotrophic,” living off the energy of the underground fungi. Fringed pinesap, like the others, is a true vascular plant with flowers and a seed-bearing capsules. Cool to find.
Nine of us spent 3 nights at the small group campsite at Walton Lake in the Ochocos. 6 more folks joined us for one night, and 4 more for just a day or part of a day. That makes 19 mushroom maniacs in one place, all hoping for a nice stash of morels to take home. We hunted far and wide, way up and way down, over and under, 5200-6300 ft. Whew! Morels? Most of us ended up with a handful, maybe even a dozen, or nothing at all after many hours of hunting.
The beauty of the Ochocos and the occasional batch of incredible wildflowers almost made up for the lack of tasty treats.
The coyotes howled and yipped each morning. A pileated woodpecker visited our campsite, drumming and drumming on a snag, looking for a mate, we guessed. What a huge woodpecker! A bald eagle visited the same tree as the crowd thinned down Sunday afternoon.
The mushroom table had some interesting specimens, along with the usual suspects – morel indicators like Sarcosphaera coronaria (Violet Cup,) Hygrophorus purpurascens, & H. subalpinus (waxy caps,) and troupes of Ramaria (corals.) The Calvatia sculpta, Sculpted Puffball, brought in by West and Justin perked our culinary attention. It was so fresh and perfect that we sliced it thick and breaded it with Tim and Tanya’s fresh green eggs and cracker crumbs, frying it in butter and olive oil. Yum. It’s hard to explain the taste, but well worth the trouble. Peter and Anne found one lonely Pluteus cervinus (the deer mushroom) that we sauteed for a tiny taste of peanuty mushroom flavor.
Penny and Paul with a little help of a crew, cooked vegetables and potatoes over open coals. Julie and Jim’s corn on the cob added to the delicious feast. To top it all off, Penny’s pineapple upside down cake was amazing. Plenty of food to feed all. Some of us brought our own additions to the meal and had to just STOP eating!
Three of us spent Sunday hiking up Round Mt. from the Walton Lake area. The wildflowers in certain spots filled the open areas. This trail is a National Recreation trail, one of 800 in our whole country. It’s a strenuous 4 mile up, 4 mile back hike (1800 ft elevation gain,) but we could see all the mountains from Diamond Peak to Mt. Adams in Washington! We found only a few mushrooms and nothing we hadn’t seen back at camp, but in the natural splendor all along the trail, we just didn’t care.
This is the required photo to make spring official. Clair sends his shot of cleaned and perfect Spring King boletes from Century Drive. I hear they are up, but this high heat will promote vast worm hatches in the stem and flesh. I just cut it all away in the field and bring home the firm clean flesh sometimes. Don’t let them sit overnight in the frig without inspecting for worms. These are easy for beginners to identify and relatively simple to find.
Central Oregon Mushroom Club has reserved the group campsite at Walton Lake campground for this coming Thursday-Sunday, June 9-12. The lake is a busy summer spot in the Ochoco National Forest, so we are lucky to get the reservation. We have room for more club members if you would like to come. If you don’t want to camp, you can come for a field trip for the day on Saturday, but email Linda to let her know (email@example.com.) We hope to find those elusive morels, but no guarantee since the season has been so sparse. Come join us!
Well, we had high hopes for a great morel foray this weekend, but it didn’t work out that way. My camping buddies decided to try a new area of the Ochocos, east and south of the town of Mitchell. The forest was mixed conifers, including pine, fir and tamarack, with all the right signs for morels where we hiked. Strawberries blooming, Sarcosphaera cornonaria (Violet Cup,) parts of the forest that were disturbed, even Calypso Orchids. Our camp was up high – 5700 ft. and the nights were cold, but the days were just beautiful. We varied our altitude from 5100 – 5800 and found maybe a dozen between the eight of us, hunting for several hours. Some were big, some were too old and some were just right (Goldilocks morels, as Judy called them.) The wildflowers were worth the trip and all of us saw pronghorns on our way out of the Ochocos. The mushrooming was very disappointing especially for my friends who traveled 4 1/2 hrs. to get there. I would love to hear from others who did far better than us. I know there are rumors of amazing finds, but usually it is a single gigantic mushroom, not clusters in any number. Please comment!
Our Central Oregon Mushroom Club meeting for May will be Monday, May 23, at 6:30 at the Environmental Center in downtown Bend. We had planned to have Dr. David Pilz present “Oh, Those Eccentric Morels” at this meeting. Today, Sunday, he cancelled due to illness, but we will reschedule this interesting talk soon. Stay tuned
COMC members will present information on morel hunting (Laurence) and spring mushrooms (Linda.) We will have the ID table for all your treasures and share stories of our finds. Please join us and bring mushrooms!
The last field trip taught us many lessons. The main take-away is that everyone should hunt with a partner and stay in voice contact with that person the entire time hunting. A very loud whistle is an important piece of equipment for everyone to have with them at all times. Standard signals are 1 whistle = “where are you? check in,” 2 whistles = “heading back to the vehicle,” 3 whistles = “I’m in trouble, come here!” At minimum, each hunting pair should have a map and compass (better if all carry these,) with a GPS being ideal. Best of all would be a GPS that had the car marked on the map.
This post is pertinent because we lost one of our members when he did not return at the designated time. Despite our horn honking and whistle blowing, the member did not hear us. He was already far too far to hear. We were so surprised that we did not find him while searching the side roads. Our cell phones were mostly out of range, but he was eventually able to get a text through to the trip leader when he figured out on what road he was traveling. All of this took a little more than an hour, but it seemed like many hours and had us all worried about his safety. It turned out okay this time, but it could have been a much sadder story. Please be prepared, responsible and err on the side of caution.
COMC club members headed up to Green Ridge on Thursday. We met up with folks in Sisters for a carpool and 13 of us did our best to find morels. We stopped around 4200 ft. and a few people found one or two. We climbed to about 4400 ft. and looked thoroughly for a long time. One couple found a nice clump of fresh morels and two lovely Spring Kings and others found just a few nice sized, fresh morels. I should have known we wouldn’t find much when the roads we traveled were devoid of any cars, despite the beautiful day. No one else hunting anywhere. Bad sign. We headed near the top, 4700 ft., no luck. and then over to Prairie Farm for a rest at the lovely pond and looked around just in case. The forest was not significantly dried out, though it could use a rain. The usual morel indicator species were present (see below.) I have found morels in these areas other springtimes. Morels are so hard to understand!!
Some of the basic fungi that we usually find with or near morels that we found on Green Ridge:
*Tricholoma vernaticum (Cuke Trich) – smells like cucumber
*Hygrophorus purpurascens – (Purple Waxy Cap) – redish-purple streaks on white gilled mushroom
*Sarcosphaera coronaria – (Violet Cup, or Violet Crown Cup) – beige ball that cracks open in a jagged crown with violet insides
*Clitocybe albirhiza – small tan, usually clustered, has clumps of mycelium at the base of stem – early fruiting, even before morels
*indicator species – appear at the same time and in the same habitat as morels, if you’re lucky
We found several clusters of Lyophyllum decastes (Fried Chicken mushroom) but they were dried up. Ramaria rasillispora, (Yellow Spring Coral) was also a bit old in places. There were two Suillus sp. under pine trees. Buddy took photos of Caloscypha fulgens (Spring Orange Peel Cup.) I found one very small, what appeared to be, Amanita aspera. Not much else out there. Maybe rain would help?
Thanks for the photos, Buddy!
“I went morel hunting this morning [5/4/16] at my favorite early season spot along the Deschutes, near Dillon Falls, and found about two pounds of mushrooms, enough to make a superb gravy for the baked chicken I’m cooking this evening. But I wasn’t the only mushroom hunter in the field. This mule deer was pawing up coral mushrooms and stuffing herself. And she wasn’t a bit afraid of me either, which is a little bizarre. I was within eight feet of her. That’s very unusual behavior for a deer that lives outside the city limit.
There are a lot of mushrooms popping out, just not many morels. You really have to look to find the little patches of them.”