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 (firstname.lastname@example.org.) We hope to find those elusive morels, but no guarantee since the season has been so sparse. Come join us!