Foraging for Mushrooms: A Wild Edibles Nature Study

Foraging for Mushrooms: A Wild Edibles Nature Study @EvaVarga.netOne of the things I just love about the Oregon coast is the plethora of fungi. This past week, my daughter and I attended a Fall Mushrooms class at the interpretive center. It was a fabulous class whereby we learned to not only identify many of the local species but we also learned which are edible.

We spent the first couple of hours in the classroom engaged in a lecture format whereby the instructor began with an introduction to basic mycology. He walked through the life cycle of mushrooms and as well as the anatomy of a mature mushroom.

He also shared a slide presentation of the species we were likely to see. With each photograph, he discussed the species’ habitat preferences (in other words, where they were most likely to be found) and the typical time of year they were most prominent.

fungilifecycle

We then took a short break and proceeded down the trail for our foraging excursion. We didn’t find too many in the first half mile or so of the trail. Those we did find had begun to decay so we were beginning to get a little discouraged. Perhaps we were too late in the season?

We didn’t give in however, and our perseverance paid off. The group had begun to spread out and cheerful exclamations of “I found Chantrelles!” or “Wow! Look at the size of these!” could be heard in the near distance.

velvetbolete

Here is a list of just a few of the species we found:

  • Hawk Wing
  • Chantrelle (illustrated above)
  • Velvet Bolete (illustrated above)
  • Beef Steak (pictured at top)
  • Pine Spike (illustrated above)
  • Oysters
  • False Chantrelle
  • Lobsters
  • Slippery Jack
  • Blue Polyphore
  • Coral
  • Toadstool (toxic)

Without doubt, the best mushroom text available is Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora. Published in 1986, it is an encyclopedia of mushroom facts and lore, lavishly illustrated with full-color photographs, literally everything you need to know about mushrooms, edible or not. Any botanical field guide should have is a good dichotomous key and Arora provides a very good key. The photos are excellent and the color plates are spectacular. This is a hefty volume, however, it is not the best for field identification.

The author has thereby released a field companion All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms. This pocket-size book allows for quick and easy identification of common mushrooms. It also provides delicious recipes and stories of friends and funny anecdotes are sprinkled among hard facts.

Another favorite resource is the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. Organized visually, this book groups all mushrooms by color and shape to make identification simple and accurate in the field. With more than 700 mushrooms detailed with color photographs and text, this is a great guide for identification in the field.

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We’ve always enjoyed taking part in the monthly challenges at Handbook of Nature Study. This month, our selected challenge was Make a List.

About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥

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