The Spring Kings are just starting to show up as fresh buttons in the mixed coniferous woods, about 2 weeks late. Note how they are brick colored unlike the tan caps of King Boletes (Boletus edulis.) They also taper at the bottom of the stem instead of staying bulbous. No matter because they are quite good and will probably fruit prolifically in the next couple weeks. Catch them before the heat does or the maggots will have their way first. They are best if dried before eating. This seems to concentrate their flavor.
Folks are still finding morels, but above 5000 ft. The lower morels are very big and often dark brown with age, resulting in an unpleasant earthy taste even if you dry them.
I have changed the Latin name on this picture three times now because I found what I hope to be the latest in the name changes. Chlorophyllum rachodes, also known as Lepiota rachodes and Macrolepiota rachodes is shown in this picture from the internet, but the Shaggy Parasol in Valerie and Dave’s yard looks just like it. It is a delicious mushroom and often fruits in quantity in gardens and pastures. Since Dave and Valerie have such a great crop growing, check out your own garden to see if you have these treasures.
This is a beautiful parasol shaped mushroom with free gills, white spores and a stem that bruises brown when handled and stains instantly orangy-red when cut. Because of its bulbous base, you may think it is an Amanita, but not so. The shaggy parts are not on the actual stem and bulb – look carefully when digging it up. The stem of this Lepiota is very stiff, though hollow in the middle. It is so delicious and well worth learning. Some folks have allergies to it so only eat a little at first.
One rare look-alike called Chlorophyllum molibdites grows in warmer climates (Cal. ) though I have heard reports of it occuring in southern Oregon. It has GREEN spores and will make you very sick. It is very unlikely that you have the green spored parasol, but check it out to be totally safe.
Be sure to post here if you have ever found this mushroom in our area. It is nice for others to know how lucky you are!
From Frank’s May 30 email….
After a huge dinner for 4 of morel pasta with asparagus tips and peas, we still had to deal with these! What a wonderful problem! Why are folks complaining about the rain? These had just popped in an area that had been harvested before.
An email from BOB C. in SUTHERLIN, OR
May 27, 2010
“These were near Prospect. As far as I know, spring kings don’t fruit under 2500 feet in our area. Many people think they’re mycorhizal with grand fir, so I look for a grand fir and then look nearby, a lot further out than the dripline. If there’s lots of grand fir then I just walk and watch the ground for a bump or a bump with a crack where it looks like the soil’s being pushed up from underneath. Early in the season they’re by roadsides, later in deep woods. You can follow them up the mountain. A Prineville resident told me that they find them around Father’s day there. They young ones fetch the most money, but the older ones have more flavor. More on preparation at another time! Bob
Gyromitra gigas is also called Gyromitra montana in our part of the country, though the DNA work for a final name decision has not been made to my knowledge. I just go with G. gigas because it is what I know right now and most mushroom books continue to use. At this moment, G.gigas is in the woods in large numbers with a correspoonding number of questions about its edibility.
What I have read and heard from “old timers,” is that “Bull’s nose” has been eaten by many people through the years. Some say they parboil the slices, drain off the liquid, parboil again, drain, then fry up and eat. (Don’t breathe in the steam while boiling!) I say, why bother? We have tried it this way once or twice and I can still say, why bother? I know it is a temptingly large mushroom that can fruit in quantities when few others are out there, but some Gyromitras are known to contain a carcinogenic toxin, gyromitrin, which is said to accumulate in your body over time. This means you could eat it for a long time with little ill effect until many years later. G. gigas (a.k.a. G. montana) is not known to contain large quantities of this, but they can’t test all of them, so I personally can skip the possibility of toxin build up. I suggest you do the same unless you know other information about G. gigas and we would love to hear it.
Gyromitra gigas comes up early, right after the snow melts, so morels should follow . Check the same areas another week later.