I got excited about Dave M’s posting about 6 lbs. of morels yesterday, so we changed plans and headed up to Green Ridge. We didn’t see many cars up there, so I was a little worried that Dave was pulling a fast one on me, but we eventually found some after several hours and stops. You can see that we didn’t get 6 lbs.!
What we did find were some perfect deer mushrooms, Pluteus cervinus. Yum! Note how very close together the gills are and how they start out slightly pink and get very pink as the pink spores of the mushroom mature. The gills are totally free from the stem and are very distinctively broad. What also makes them easy to identify is there habit of growing right out of wood and the stringy narrow stem. The one huge deer mushroom in the photo is the biggest I have ever seen! It measures 16 cm across! Typically deer mushrooms are like the smaller specimens. With some caution not to mix them up with a large pink-spored Entoloma (never truly free gills), deer mushrooms should be identified and eaten because they are a delicious edible tasting something like, well, a lot like peanuts. They have a pleasant chewy texture even after cooking and are great with eggs. We rarely find more than a couple at a time, so this was a treat today! I think the name is referencing the color the cap because the variations in color perfectly mimic the shiny coat of a deer. Look for Pluteus cervinus on dead wood on the ground or on buried wood. If the mushroom is not growing from wood, it is not Pluteus cervinus!
PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL FROM AN OBSERVANT MUSHROOM HUNTER AND TAKE NOTE! THANK YOU CLAIR FOR THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION.
The first picture is the common spring Amanita, Amanita aprica, and the second is Agaricus albolutescens. Please look at the color under the cap. Agaricus is slightly pink and turns to chocolate brown in age, while Amanita is never pinkish and stays whitish even in age. Clair was smart to do a spore print before she considered eating them. This Agaricus is delicious and it would be easy to get blinded by the excitement of finding them. Please be cautious! I just reviewed the toxicity information on A.aprica and found that is has not been implicated in any human deaths, however, it might make you wish you were dead for a bit and certainly cost you an unpleasant trip to the hospital.
FROM CLAIR’S EMAIL:
“I saw your post regarding Amanita aprica, and thought I should send along this caution regarding the similarity of some specimens to Agaricus albolutescens (see attached photos).
Last year in June I had just picked a few nice Agaricus a., and was thrilled when I found 4 more humps nearby that initially appeared to be beautiful, fresh Agaricus a. I accidently broke the base off the first three, but found the fourth to have the typical bulge at the base that Agaricus a. often has. However I split the base to be cautious, and found that it was a very tight cup, not noticeable without splitting. I took the four home and did a spore print, which was white (rather than the dark spores of Agaricus). I identified these “wannabees” as the poisonous Amanita aprica.
I was amazed at how superficially similar these two species, found right next to each other, appeared. It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of success and miss some vital details. One of my goals is to become as familiar with our toxic species as I am with our edibles.”
Here is a link to more information: http://www.bayareamushrooms.org/mushroommonth/aprica.html
People have been sending me photos of this beautiful Amanita. I am calling it Amanita aprica because Jan Lindgren assured me that our locally common spring Amanita is this species, not Amanita gemmata, as I once called it. It is known to be toxic, so protect your animals and remove the mushrooms from your property. They seem to grow in pines in this area and often just push up the duff if the weather has been dry.
I am wondering how well people did this last weekend. We hunted a little on Sat. and found enough morels on Green Ridge for a nice breakfast with eggs but we found them quite low, like 4,000 ft. Some of them were a bit dried out at that elevation, but the upper areas of the ridge were not ready.
I stopped into the OMS foray at Suttle Lake on Sat. afternoon just as few of the field trip groups returned to give a quick “hi” and see what they found. They said that they will have to limit the foray more next time because 85 participants stretched the foray organizers to find field trip leaders It’s great that so many people made that long trek from Portland just to learn about mushrooms.
The three groups who had returned from the field trips found a pound or two, but no one was bragging big. Maybe the later groups did better, but I had to leave. I did hear that the commercial folks are not happy about the morel season so far, but have been very busy picking King Bolete buttons for more than a week. That sounds way too early. This is from a good source who knows commercial pickers. Strange season! The id. tables at the foray had many of the typical spring species and lots of yellow coral, so you won’t be disappointed if you like to deal with coral.
Dr. Michael Beug was the mycologist and presenter for the weekend. He let me see a draft of his new book which will be published soon on the Ascomycetes [morels and many more] of the Pacific Northwest with something like 600 species, large paperback size, and tons of pictures. The picture key sounds really useful for those of us who struggle with dichotomous keys. More on this when it comes out.
Please post your finds so you can inspire others. Pictures are also good. Don’t forget about next week’s COMC meeting on Weds. May 23 at 6:30. Bring mushrooms for us to handle.
This weekend, May 11-13 is the Portland club’s foray to the Suttle Lake area. They know that morels start coming this week in force.
Don’t forget your mushroom permits! You can’t get them on the weekend.
Here is a wonderful link to a great photo easy on morel species, and much more.
Also, Central Oregon Mushroom Club is having their May meeting on Weds. May 23, 6:30 pm, at the Rosie Bareis Campus, 1010 NW 14th. I plan to do a slide show on spring mushrooms, but I hope you will bring in some of the REAL thing so we can pass them around and learn to identify them. See you there.