Month: September 2013

Bountiful fungi for our mushroom class!

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Fungi from our field trip table

What an amazing year for fungi! The class tromped around the woods on the west side of the pass and couldn’t help but step on mushrooms. The rain had soaked and destroyed many specimens, but more were coming up. Everyone went home with at least white chanterelles to eat. The Lactarius rubrilactus was more abundant than I have ever seen it (see a previous posting for a photo.)
Don’t miss this fall for mushroom hunting! It’s wonderful out there.
Thanks, Buddy for the photos.

John, Jo, Krista and Paul listening to Linda talk fungi

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Strange growing Lactarius deliciosus

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A close family connection

What makes mushrooms grow in such bizarre ways?  This Lactarius deliciosus was photographed by Buddy Mays during our field trip this weekend.  He wants to know what makes this happen.  Anyone have ideas?  We found many distorted and nearly unrecognizable chanterelles as well, but those I have seen other years.

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Amanita or not?


A woman brought these to Julie, concerned about her dog eating them. These do look a little scary in the photo, but Julie said the caps are smooth and there is not sign of a volva or material at the base. Their habit of fruiting in the lawn makes me think they are probably Leucoagaricus naucina, a.k.a. Lepiota naucina in older books. Comments?

Amanita or what?

Julie did good job of carefully keying it out to the Lepiotas and reassuring the woman that it is probably not toxic.

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More Hawk’s Wing information


From Clair’s email:
I’ve continued my experiments with eating the “hawk wing” mushroom (Sarcodon imbricatus aka Hydnum imbricatum) and would like to share my experience here. My wife and I have found this to be a delicious mushroom, easy to prepare, and adaptable to many uses. Furthermore they tend to be large (6-12 inches and larger) and provide a great yield; a perfect bonus mushroom to add to the usual finds in our area (Central Oregon Cascades). So far I’ve taste-tested about 20 individual hawk wings from several different sites, and all have been mild to sweet in flavor, with no bitterness. All were young to middle aged specimens found under spruce and hemlock at higher elevations (3500-5000ft) near lake shores in the Cascades.My method of preparation has been to scrape off the teeth (not necessary in the youngest mushrooms where the spines are less than 1/16th inch in length). Then carve out the stem, which is fibrous. Cut the flesh into bite size pieces, then sauté with a bit of salt and one or two tablespoons of added liquid (wine, broth, water, etc.). It’s important to cook hawk wings very thoroughly, and they hold up very well to long cooking.

I start off with low heat, stirring until the mushrooms start to release their liquid. A little salt, and a tablespoon or two of added liquid can help start the liquid release process. Once there’s a bit of liquid in the bottom of the pan, turn the heat up to medium high and boil off the liquid, stirring occasionally. The key is to evaporate the water out of the liquid and concentrate the flavor (don’t discard the liquid, as it’s full of flavor). Once most of the liquid has boiled off, reduce the heat, stirring constantly until nearly all the liquid is gone (just a teaspoon or less left). Be careful not to let the pan go completely dry or burn the mushrooms. This process may take awhile, but leaves the mushrooms very moist and tender, ready to use as is, or incorporate into any other dishes. Once cooked, the mushroom takes on a deep brown color. Now is the time to add olive oil or butter and fry a bit if desired.

Sauted Hawk's wing

The cooked texture is a very tender and pleasant “al dente”, and the taste is mild and earthy, reminiscent of domestic Agaricus mushrooms. They readily absorb other flavors such as garlic, onion, broths, herbs, and spices. We’ve found they go well with meat, especially lamb and venison, and incorporate well into other dishes like soups, stir-fry, pastas, with eggs, or however you like your mushrooms. When cut into long, thin strips and sauted, these make an excellent substitute for noodles.

If you do some research online, you’ll find that the hawk wing (also known as shaggy hedgehog) has a kind of “Jekyll and Hyde” reputation. Some describe it as tough and bitter, some as bland and tastless, and some as delicious. In “Mushrooms Demystified”, Arora labels them as “edible but poor”, however in “All that the Rain Promises…” he describes them as “excellent”; go figure! Edible quality may also be affected by differences in environment, or associated plants where the hawk wing is found. Most sources recommend that younger specimens are superior in taste. Some sources report mild digestive upset if undercooked. The site “California Fungi” states that the montane forms are better than coastal forms; that may be good news for us Cascadians!

Some experts believe that there may be several different forms, or even more than one species that are presently lumped under Sarcodon imbricatus, and that more taxonomic work is needed to sort these out. Also, a related species (Sarcodon scabrosus) is very bitter, and may be misidentified as S. imbricatus lending to the confusion. Another similar species is S. squamosus. The hawk wing may also be known (or misidentified) by some ambiguous common names including “pheasant back” and “Dryad’s saddle”; these names are also used for some entirely different species in the polypore family. These other species may appear similar to the hawk wing when viewed from the top, but have porous gills, rather than the spiny gills of the hawk wing. This may add to the confusion concerning the hawk wing’s edibility.

I intend to make this mushroom part of our regular fare. It appears to dry well, and freezes well (sautéed before freezing). I urge other pickers in our area to give the hawk wing a try, and report your results here. I’ll report back with any new information that develops from my own experimentation.

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What do you recognize in this box?

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Gathering fungi for my class, thanks Jirka

My fungal friends are collecting diverse mushrooms for my class on Mon. Sept 23 since I will be out of town and not able to collect. In this box, J.N. kept each mushroom separate in a supportive container, good, but they must be kept cool. Mushrooms rot quickly especially in heat. I try to pick them as close to class time as possible, so keeping them identifiable for 4 days might be challenging. When gathering mushrooms for learning purposes, small or more fragile mushrooms should be carefully rolled in wax paper or a place in a small paper bag. Remember to only bring home specimens that you really will work on to identify in the next couple days. After that time, mushrooms lose their colors and distinctive characteristics making id. so much harder.

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Amanita muscaria buttons

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Beautiful red jewels in the forest - Amanita muscaria

Thank you, Clair, for submitting this very pretty photo of A.muscaria buttons. Much folklore has been written about this mushroom. Some say it has hallucinogenic properties. Apparently the european version of this has more psychoactive ingredients than the western variety and is less likely to cause damage than ours. It’s not worth the risk since the chemical composition of each muscaria mushroom varies greatly. Besides its incredible beauty, this mushroom is an excellent indicator species for Boletus edulis! They often grow right next to each other. Keep your eyes open wide when you are drawn to marvel at this jewel in the forest.

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“King me”


Strange growth of Boletus edulis, the King. This is Clair’s lovely picture of a baby mushroom growing on the top a of a mature one.

The King Family

Clair writes: The recent rains brought on a new flush of fall kings. I found these around 5,000ft, under mature spruce, small opening in semi-wet area.

Here’s something you don’t see very often; a fall king button growing out of a mature king. I’ve seen this more with chanterelles than boletes.
I left these in place.

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Disappointed Dale


Huge Bitter Bolete!

“Disappointed Dale ”

My friend Dale heard there were tons of boletes near Todd Lake. He brought back many huge specimens, hoping they were Kings. All of them were heavy, dense, some red on the stem, and stained blue instantly. Despite their alluring size, these, again, are the Bitter Boletes, probably Boletus coniferarum or calopus. A small nibble of the cap is a safe way to test if it is worth hauling these clunkers back home. You learn to spot them quickly after that without the taste.

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Clair’s posting with photos


Clair:  We had a good day (Saturday). We found 6 clumps of blue (black) chanterelles, and a nice bunch of fall kings. Also several matsutake (no photo) and a few pounds of chanterelles (probably C. cascadensis; no photo). We saw a lot more chanterelles, but had enough from yesterday that we left most of them. Also found several nice Sarcodon imbricatus.

The fall kings were under spruce, on relatively moist ground. Associated groundcover was the ground huckleberry and various forbs. Elevation was about 5,000’.
The blue chanterelles and C. cascadensis were in similar habitat.

We covered a lot of ground (around 12 miles).

I believe that good habitat to find fall kings right now would be around high elevation lakes, creeks, springs, and wetlands.

Black Chanterelle

Classic Clair stash

Classic Clair - a stash of Kings

Young King Bolete

Young king bolete

Sarcodon imbricatum - not edible

Sarcodon imbricatus - Hawk's wing

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