Does mushroom picking damage or encourage the Mycelium?

Steven Carpenter microbe at PEAK.ORG
Thu Nov 23 09:52:00 EST 1995

The disturbance by raking for #1, unexpanded, unsurfaced Matsutake 
(Tricholoma magnavelare) has gotten so bad in the Deschutes National
Forest in Oregon that the US Forest Service has even published a handout
in Laotian script to describe the disastrous effects of deep-raking the
forest-floor.  Isolated picking might not be so bad, but the hordes of
people by the hundreds seeking "white gold" will take its toll.  Greed
and ignorance are the main culprits.  The #1 Matsutakes come at such
a high price, that people will destroy the rhizosphere looking for them,
and undoubtedly destroy next year's crop at that site as well.  It 
doesn't take a million-dollar NSF grant to figure that one out (if you
had seen what raking does, you would be convinced; I have heard
trufflers claim that raking doesn't hurt anything, but they also 
haven't published anything to prove that is true!)

I am unaware of any GOOD, published scientific works on the effects of
picking and how different modes of picking may affect local ecosystems or
microenvironments.  There may be some studies going on right now, but
whether they have made it through rigorous statistical analysis and peer
review remains to be seen.  I believe the Germans were doing some work
in the early 1980's, but I haven't seen or sought the references.

-Steven E. Carpenter
 Cascade Research Associates
  & Abbey Lane Laboratory
 microbe at 
Robert D. Darby (darby at wrote:

: On 21 Nov 1995, Richard W. Kerrigan wrote:

: > In addition to picking (in the strict sense), one might consider other 
: > related impacts (soil compaction, organic horizon displacement, etc.).  
: > The matsutake research station I visited near Sonobe, Japan, restricted 
: > foot traffic to well-defined paths which were minimally used.  -- Rick
: > 
: I have been photographing, creating works of art, culturing, and gathering 
: mushrooms for 25 years.  Regarding the matsutake I can testify that 
: destruction of the surface areas with such things as garden rakes will 
: destroy an area.  When the moss they typically fruit from is raked back 
: and left to dry out, they will not fruit until the moss returns taking 
: years.  Also the mycelium on the surface is exposed at this time and 
: dries out sending god knows what message to the growth below.  They might 
: move a few feet away the next year but generally the same army of rake 
: preditors will return and rake back further, until there is no moss.  I 
: know an area near Seattle where this was done for decades until there is 
: no moss at all--nor matsutake.

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