Rocky Mountain Pines

truffler1635 at truffler1635 at
Wed Sep 15 18:37:42 EST 1999

In article <20682-37D8871A-6763 at>,
  timmandjoanna at (Joannna Van de Ven) wrote:
> Could somebody please steer us in the right direction to find pine
> mushrooms in the Rockies near Vail, CO.  No street address needed!  Just
> approximate elevation, terrain (steep or level), relationship with which
> type of trees, near water, that sort of stuff.  We have had about a
> weeks' worth of frosts now.  Is it a good time to start looking?  Much
> obliged!
Since I've never been in Colorado (although I've heard John Denver's
song I Guess I'd Rather Be In Colorado), you should maybe take this
suggestion with a grain of salt.

First, you should know that the mushroom you are trying to find has a
scientific name: Tricholoma magnilevare (aka Armillaria ponderosa),
which has come to be known as matsutake. Matsutake is from two Japanese
words: matsu, meaning pine; and take, meaning mushroom. While it is
appropriate that it be called pine mushroom, it is seldome found with
pine trees in my experience.

Habitat is probably the first thing to look for: matsutake likes sandy
or well-drained soil. I'd try looking near river beds in your area, or
along the streams, anyway.

Secondly, matsutake is a mycorrhizal fungi, meaning it needs a host tree
or plant. Aurora notes that matsutake are found in CA with Pine,
madrone, Douglas fir, Western hemlock, Tanoak, mixed with and understory
of rhododendron, huckleberry and manzanita. The most productive sites
seem to be second-growth Douglas fir in Oregon, with some Western
hemlock mixed in, and understory of rhododendron, manzanita or
huckleberry. However, along the Oregon coast at lower elevations the
preferred host appears to be Lodgepole pine.

I would expect Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) to be common in CO. So,
try to find an area with a long of sandy or alluvial soil deposition.
BTW, another good geological area is volcanic ash deposits, which is why
Mt. St. Helens is so popular now days.

Matsutake can also be found in older stands of trees, but seems less

Daniel B. Wheeler

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