Not-so-Successful Mushrooming Field Trip

We are so lucky here in the Pacific Northwest to have the Puget Sound Mycological Society (PSMS), an ENORMOUS group of people who love all things mushrooms.  And as of recently, I am a member!  Woo hoo!

The society hosts spring and fall field trips to areas that may or may not have mushrooms at the time, so we joined them a few weekends ago for a lovely outing on a perfect Pacific Northwest kind of day.  Foggy, cool morning, with the promise of finding chanterelles and boletes and all kinds of other delicious and beautiful 'shroomies. 

It's foggy!  There will be mushrooms!

It's foggy!  There will be mushrooms!

As you begin (or continue) your foraging adventures, you will soon learn a vital lesson: many outings are complete flops.  Others are massive hauls.  Most are somewhere in between.

Sadly with this trip, we were not so lucky with our haul.  That is, we did find quite a few specimens, but the choice types were not out in abundance, as we had hoped.  It was a bit surprising, because we were obviously in prime mushroom habitat - duff forest floor in a second-growth coniferous forest.  But we may have been a week early or a week too late - either way, we were in the right place at the wrong time.

Mark searching in vain for some fungi.  Possibly in the middle of FernGully.

Mark searching in vain for some fungi.  Possibly in the middle of FernGully.

Our one little piece of good fortune was that Mark found a little nubbin of a white chanterelle (one of the yummy-ist!), and we also found a small-ish bolete, also somewhat choice.  We were able to fry up the chanterelle for tasting back at home, but the bolete perished before we could sample it.  Wa-waaaa.

Back at the meeting point at lunchtime, expert mushroom hunter Brian Luther identified every type of mushroom that we all brought back and would explain the edibility of certain types in his wonderful home-made chart:

Straight-forward and simple.  He would stick the mushroom somewhere along this chart if it was edible.

Straight-forward and simple.  He would stick the mushroom somewhere along this chart if it was edible.

Brian discussing the fly amanita.  Not edible. 

Brian discussing the fly amanita.  Not edible. 

We all collected tons of fungi, both edible and non-edible, to bring back to Brian for identification.  Edibles were fawned over briefly, then were tucked safely back in the finder's basket for safe keeping and home cooking.  Some folks (Mark included) also found some that were good for dying wool, including some bright purple specimens, and one woman happened to do that sort of thing... so I gave them to her to test out.  Would be interesting to see how that turned out.

At the end of the day, our bounty was absolutely beautiful, and we learned a TON of new information about mushrooms from Brian.  So despite our almost complete bust, it was a great day, and we can't wait to head out again soon.

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