Mushroom hunting reason to be afield

truffler1635 at my-deja.com truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Sun Oct 22 06:40:39 EST 2000


>From The Oregonian, Oct. 21, 2000, p C3

Mushroom hunting reason to be afield
Finding a favorite, flavorful fungus is the goal, but the real joy is
simply the tromping through the woods

By FIONA COHEN, The Associated Press

	BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- The mushroom's cap was covered with velvety
brown on top, and had an underside of spongy yellowish-green spore tubes.
It was big, with a cap the size of a saucer. Nearby was another with a
cap the size of a dinner plate.
	Looking at these big, brown fungi, the idea of sauteing them in
olive oil and garlic doesn't leap to mind. But according to mushroom
enthusiasts, Boletus mirabilis is a "choice edible" with a slightly
lemony taste, one of the more delicious mushrooms that can be found in
the woods near Bellingham.
	As the woods grow moist in the fall rains, those with the expertise
to find the edible mushrooms have a choice of a variety of tastes,
textures, sizes and shapes.
	The flavors are well beyond anything you an find in a supermarket,
says Douglas Morrison, 67, president of the Northwest Mushroomers
Association.
	But the joy is often in the hunt.
	"It's sort of like fishing," says Morrison, "Whether you get things
or not, it's great being outside."
	Morrison, his wife, Norine, and a few other members of the Northwest
Mushroomers Association recently set out ot a second-growth Douglas fir
and hemlock forest east of Bellingham - a secret location.
	The party scattered as soon as everyone entered the woods. There
were Russula brevipes, an edible species, flavorless on its own that
turns into a delectable red "lobster mushroom" when another fungus,
Hypogmyces lactiflorum, parasitizes it, says Fred Rhoades, a Western
Washington University professor who studies the ecology of fungi and
lichens.
	A decaying alder log showed the white folds of oyster mushrooms.
Erin Moore and Eric Swisher, two group members, dove into the forest and
came back with delicate, peach-colored chanterelles. But while a mushroom
can be delicious, or deadly, it's only a small part of the complex living
entity, Rhoades says.
	The part of the mushroom that appears above the forest floor during
the wet months is the fruiting body, which disperses the spores of the
fungus.
	The main part of the fungus exists below the surface year-round, as
a mycelium, a large network of tubes. Forest fungi can grow very large
and very old.
	The largest documented living thing is a forest mushroom. The
"Humongous Fungus" of Malheur National Forest in Eastern Oregon covers
2,200 acres and is an estimated 2,500 years old.
	Most mushrooms are good for trees, either by helping with the decay
of leaves, trees and branches on the florest floor, or by helping the
trees digest food.
	Boletus mirabilis only grows with the Western hemlock, and it helps
young hemlock trees colonize decaying dead trees on the forest floor,
Rhoades says. The mushrooms' relationship with the trees is the main
reason mushroom farmer shaven't succeeded in growing them, and why they
can only be found in the wild, Moore says.
	Swisher said many people have an unjustified fear that most
mushrooms are poisonous. Instead, Rhoades says, of the 280 local species
about a third are edible, a third are poisonous enough to make people
sick, and a handful are deadly, even in small quantities.
	Mushroomers learn to be cautious, only eating mushrooms when they
are sure they are edible. "The adage is if you can't name it, don't eat
it," Moore says.
	They consult experts, check mushroom identification guides (the best
for this area are David Arora's "Mushrooms Demystified: A Comprehensive
Guide to the Fleshy Fungi" (Ten Speed Press, 2986, 959 pages) and his
pocket guide "All that the Rain Promises...and More" (Ten Speed Press,
1991).
	Morrison says that when trying a new mushroom, eat only small
quantities, in case the new mushroom sets off a food allergy. The risks,
real and imagined, are part of the charm of mushrooming.
	Every March, the association has a potluck dinner with a mushroom
theme. The name of the dinner? "The Survivor's Banquet" - because by
March the mushroom hunters will have survived five or six months of wild
mushroom picking, Doug Morrison says.


COMMENT BY POSTER: First off, B. mirabilis is notable for its dark red
velvet cap, not brown. So, B. mirabilis can only be found in nature.
What's to keep a tree farmer who has Western hemlock and large woody
debris on his land, to try cultivating it? Nothing. Large woody debris is
one of the pre-requisites for this particular fungus. It is one of the
few boletes that grow _always_ from wood, never from the soil. No large
woody debris on your tree farm? Not to worry. Try growing B. zelleri, B.
chrysenteron, B. edulis, B. pinicola, or any of the Suillus sps (most
Suillus are edible).

Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler
www.oregonwhitetruffles.com


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