Tenth Issue, November 2002
(updated 11/22/02)
Published about twice a year from Greenville, California
by Herman Brown




This was another extremely dry season.  However, the areas that had some sort of moisture, either from underground springs or automatic sprinkling systems, provided us with a good variety of fungal fruitings.  In late October, Cecelia and I also got to attend the Breitenbush Wild Mushroom Conference in Oregon and, despite the dry spell there, saw many different species, more than a few that were new to us.

Since I have become a member of the Mycological Society of San Francisco (MSSF), I have found lots of material to use to use in my newsletters.  This issue is no exception. The material I included all came via the MSSF online newsgroup mailings, and is being used with the author's permission.

If you live near Central or Northern California, and aren't yet a member, I would strongly suggest you think about becoming one, as there is lots to share and learn from the mailings, the members, and from reading the MSSF newsletter, the Mycena News.  The membership includes lots of friendly individuals, many whom you will meet at their many mushroom forays.  

To find out more information about MSSF and to how join the society, go to www.mssf.org.

Findings, August to November (top)

Tuesday, August 27: Because of a recent tip from Mike Wood, that the Sulphur Shelf might be found this month in the Sierras, we decided to go mushrooming up Yuba Pass, down Weber Lake Road towards a seepage area.

We rarely find mushrooms at this time of year, probably mostly because we don't look for them.

But we were pleasantly surprised.

We found many Ganoderma oregonense, one Sulphur Shelf, Laetiporus sulphureus, four of what seemed to be the Gypsy Mushroom, the Rozites caparata, some Lactarius, a few Russulas, a huge Boletus, and some bitter-tasting Boletus.

As we walked along, and also when I got home, I took some pictures, which can be seen at august-27.htm along with more of an explanation of the day.

Wednesday, August 28: An added note regarding the Ganoderma oregonense and the Rozites caparata:

Under the microscope, the spores for the "Rozites" looked just like the description in David Arora's Mushrooms Demystified. I think I will cook them up tonight, taste a bit, and see what happens.

I scrambled some eggs this morning with the tender tips of a rather large G. oregonense, along with some salt, butter, and garlic.  I had sliced it thin across the grain just to make sure it was the most tender.

It still had a very good texture and tasted great this way.  If anyone else experiments with it and comes up with some good recipes, let me know. I'd like to hear from you.

Sunday, September 1: This afternoon we decided to see if we could find any Sulphur Shelf or Ganoderma oregonense near the small lake above Greenville.

We didn't find any of those, but we started finding some fresh Russula brevipes, var. acrior, those with the beautiful green-tinged gills. Because this was near the area where I sometimes find the White Chanterelle (Cantharellus subalbidus), I made a mental note to return to the same area in mid-October, the time when we usually find them.

As we walked back towards the truck, we spotted a small mound along the side of the dirt road.  It turned out to be a few small White Chanterelles. They were very dry, seeming to contain no moisture, but I took the biggest anyway. What a surprise!  Not only was it a bit early, but it had been drier there than last year, when I had found no Chanterelles at all.

This encouraged us to start looking more carefully on the ground, and to check our old Chanterelle spots.

Gastroboletus subalpinus
A Gastroboletus

As we walked, we saw more mounds containing the R. brevipes, and found one of those unusual-looking Gastroboletus subalpinus, or Gastroid King Bolete.

The cap is the thin covering in the center, and the tip of the bulbous stem is just barely visible on the lower right.  The rest is the pore surface.

As we walked, we found more mounds, these all containing small Chanterelles. We then checked all of our old Chanterelle spots and found a few at each spot.

We brought back enough Chanterelles for a nice taste at dinner.

Again, what a surprise!

Tuesday, September 3: Late today I decided to go back to the area where I had found the small, dry White Chanterelles, hoping to find some that were larger and hopefully less dry.

When I got to the area I thought might produce some results, a friend who lived near the lake came by and wanted to know if I was having any luck. I said no and asked if he would like to walk along with me. I was hoping to at the least show him some mounds.      

We saw a few mounds, under which were more of the short-stemmed Russula which were too dry for me to want to stay where we were.

I then took him to another area where I had found chanterelles in the past, but we found nothing there.

Then I pointed out an area across the road, saying I thought it looked like it might be a good spot to hunt. Very soon after we got into the area, I found a large mound, and brought him over to show him what might be under it.

I lifted off the duff, and below that were sheets of bark.  I lifted of those and lo and behold, in a little cavity, there was a couple of good-sized chanterelles. As I cut them out I found a third.

We didn't find anything more that day other than a large clump of buried mushrooms that were far too young to ID.  I plan to go back in a few days to see if they continued to grow any.

I gave him the two larger chanterelles, pointing out their chief characteristics, and told him how to clean and cook them.

I had already introduced him to the Spring King Boletus that grow near his residence.  This spring he actually found some on his own.

Thursday, September 5: Today we went back to Yuba Pass hoping to find more of the Gypsy Mushrooms, but didn't find any.  We looked VERY carefully along the edge of a seepage area and found many types of other mushrooms however.  Not many of each though.

Calvatias sculpta

We found a few Suillus, a few red-stemmed bitter boletes (Boletus rubripes), a few massive boletes that seemed to develop entirely under ground near the base of conifers, a few more of the Ganoderma oregonense, several tuberales (probably Deer Truffles), various gilled mushrooms, a clump of yellow coral mushrooms (Ramaria rasilispora), a small dried puffball, and another perfectly formed dried puffball (Calvatia sculpta) for which I took pictures because of its spectacular display of pyramidal warts.

The weirdest find had to be the massive boletes, which seemed to be spread all over under the duff, hugging the ground, but which appeared to have a bulbous base. It was too hard to collect anything to bring back.  It always broke apart as I tried to lift it out.

In a month we will probably return, especially if we get some rain in the meantime.

Saturday, September 7: This afternoon we decided to check out an area near Canyon Dam, just before Lake Almanor. We didn't see any mounds but brought back 3 Phaeolus schweinitzii to bring to the upcoming Breitenbush Wild Mushroom Conference in Northern Oregon next month.

These mushrooms, which look like dark brown shelf mushrooms, usually growing on the ground (in the roots of trees), are supposed to be very good for making dyes.

We then went back to the lake above town, to check that clump of mushrooms I had found earlier.

We didn't find the clump, but upon checking our favorite chanterelle spots again, found about a half dozen very dry White Chanterelles.

After we picked the spots again over pretty good, even finding some under piles of sawdust, we tried to find another spot that had produced some a few years ago. When we got to what looked like the spot, we started looking VERY carefully, and started finding them almost everywhere.

Cantharellus subalbidus
White (stained, not Golden) Chanterelles

None had a very visible mound. Many were found just by moving our hands over the duff. All were very close to the surface, and about 2-3 inches in diameter. When we finally stopped, it almost seemed like we had been in a picking frenzy.

But the cleaned tally only came to 1 1/4 lbs chanterelles. I even washed these under running water, something I would normally NOT do, hoping to gain some moisture. I don't think it affected them very much.

The fall season must be here!

Wednesday, September 11: I had sent the following message to Fred Stevens and Mike Wood, to see if they could help me with an ID:

TO:  Fred Stevens and Mike Wood

I found some mushrooms in a friend's yard, who lives near Round Valley Lake at 4400 ft, that key out to be the Marasmius oreades, but are in rather dense clusters, and they do not seem to have the same odor.  Plus, the spore print is more of a creamy-buff than bright white.  They do tend to grow in rings, with the inside of the rings filled with dead grass.

In the yard when young, they look from the top like dense clusters of light-colored Lyophyllum decastes, but they don't seem to have the thick common base like the Lyophyllum.

The cap has an umbo when mature, the gills are well spaced, not crowded, the apiculate spores are buff-white and not amyloid, 4-6 x 8-10 microns.  The gill shape, cap color and cap size fits the oreades, as well as the tough, equal, stuffed stalk.

Have you ever seen them in dense clusters?  I will take pictures of the clusters, if you think it would help.

Individually, they sure look like oreades to me. Her yard has millions of them. 

Any ideas for me?  - Herman

Both of them agreed with my ID.

So, they next day, after deciding that they were the edible Marasmius oreades, I went back, took more pictures, and gathered many.

I thought the find was so interesting, that I put the whole story with pictures on the Internet to share at marasmius.htm

Wednesday, September 18:  I went back to the place where I found all the Marasmius oreades, and after filling my basket again, went to another area on the property to check a couple of mushrooms that had been in a button state a week ago.

They still weren't open, but I took one to see I could get a spore print (which I couldn't get).  It looks like an Agaricus, no apparent odor, the flesh does not have an odor even when crushed, the flesh almost turns black slowly when rubbed, it has a felt ring as described in the Agaricus hordensis, and the cap is covered with dark brown, almost black scales.  

I planned to keep checking the one I left behind to get a better specimen, including the base of the stalk, and hopefully to get a spore sprint.

I went back a few more times, took a few pictures, and they can all be seen at agaricus.htm, which shows the pinkish, free gills, the scales, and the thick collar-like ring.  After several communications with Fred Stevens, and after finally noticing a faint phenol odor, I decided it was an Agaricus praeclaresquamosus, a new one for me.

Monday, September 28: This morning, a friend called to tell me that the mushrooms growing in his yard were starting to look large enough to pick. I had told him to call me when they got about 2 inches in diameter.

These mushrooms were the large clumps of Lyophyllum decastes we had identified last year, which had overtaken a large portion of his lawn and had returned about 2 weeks ago.

On the way, I decided to go back to the lake above town to harvest more Marasmius oreades, and to bring some back for my friend to taste.

The automatic sprinklers were on, so I only got about a half-pound.  Before I continued down to my friend's house, I stopped at the other side of the valley to see if any new chanterelles had appeared.  No new chanterelles, but I did find one pretty large Gastroboletus subalpinus, and one striking Amanita silvicola.  The Gastroboletus was too old to pick.

When I got to my friend's house, we harvested about a half a pound each of the Lyophyllum for our tables. I told him how to cook them for his first taste, which I also did for myself when I got home later, and I thoroughly enjoyed both the taste and texture.

He also showed me some other mushrooms growing in his yard.  One was a small Lactarius deliciosus, and the other was an unusual Agaricus with the gills still being off-white even after it had opened up.  It later turned out to be a Lepiota naucina, which it looked like, because it had a faint phenol odor when I crushed the flesh.  I told him to try the Lactarius but not to expect too much.

The Agaricus I brought home to try to identify, but I am pretty sure it is an A. californicus.

I also gave him my small batch of Marasmius oreades for his first taste.

There were still plenty of each left in the two grassy areas, for future meals.

Follow up:  The next day, I looked at the few spores I could get from the "Agaricus", under the highest power of the microscope, and decided that I had a funny-smelling Lepiota naucina after all. I should have noticed how easily the stipe separated from the cap, but the slight phenol odor through me off.  The spores were colorless in water, but dextrinoid (turned reddish-brown) in Melzer's reagent.

Saturday, September 28: Instead of working in our own yard, Saturday we went to some other yards in town to harvest our various crops of mushrooms.

The day before, my son-in-law had brought over a rather large Agaricus augustus, which he found near the spot in his garden I had found one last year.  Saturday morning I went to his house to see if there were more, found none, but collected a few Tricholoma imbricatum, which look very tempting to eat.  Not this time.

Then we both went to the yard where we have been collecting the Lyophyllum decastes and picked a small bunch along with the darker-capped L. loricatum. I spotted a few Shaggy Manes (Coprinus comatus) but left them for the homeowner, as these are his favorites.

The next stop was the big yard at the home above town where the large crop of Marasmius oreades were found earlier, and we collected a good batch of those.

Under a Spruce on the corner of that property, we found a small patch of what keyed out to be the Clitocybe deceptiva, but these were all-white and the odor seemed more like maraschino cherries than anise.

Later, it the town park, I found a few wormy Lactarius deliciosus and a few squashed Suillus ponderosus.

At least the yard mushrooms (where the automatic sprinklers are working) are coming out!

Saturday, October 12: On Friday, 10/11, Cecelia and I went to Yuba Pass for a 2-day campout, so we could accompany Dr. Dennis Desjardin and some of his mycology students, on their fall foray there.

I brought along some pictures and samples to hopefully show to Fred Stevens, but he wasn't there so I showed them to Dennis.

The pictures included those of the clusters of Marasmius oreades, an unusual looking Gomphus, and an unidentified Boletus.  He was impressed by the size of the clusters, laughed at the Gomphus sample I brought with me (it looked like it had exploded), but couldn't I.D. the Boletus from my pictures. Basically it was all-yellow except for reddish tones on the lower half of the stalk, bulbous stalk with a tapered root, no obvious reticulations on the stalk, slowly bluing flesh, very tiny pores, and tasted when cooked like a B. appendiculatus.  I can't seem to key it out in any of my keys.

I showed him some samples of the red Cortinarius I had found earlier, which I later decided was a C. phoeniceus var. occidentalis.  I will take those to Maggie Rogers when I meet with her at Breitenbush, along with a fresh Phaeolus schweinitzii that I just happen to obtain later from one of the grad students, Denise Gregory, "in exchange" for a Clitocybe that I had brought her for a current project.  I think I got the better part of that deal.

You can see pictures of the funny-looking Gomphus at:
closeups/80491_24a.JPG (side view and out of focus, but you'll get the idea)
closeups/80491_25a.JPG (view from the bottom) and the Boletus at:
closeups/MVC-114Fa.JPG (overall view)
closeups/MVC-115Fa.JPG (close-up view of the top)
closeups/MVC-116Fa.JPG (close-up view of the stalk with the  top removed)

I would appreciate any suggestions on the Boletus.

Follow-up: After going back to the same spot to see if I could find a younger specimen of the all-yellow boletus, I noticed that it had been growing near an old stump.  I found a dried one, took it home, and measured some of the spores.  I had previously asked Fred Stevens, David Arora, and Mike Wood for help in the ID of the Boletus, and when later I told them about the stump and the spore size, they all agreed that it was probably a Boletus orovillus with yellow pores, another new one for me.

By the time I left the group on Saturday afternoon, Dennis had counted over 60 different species, and I think he even found a new one to add to his list.  All were found in or near the seepage areas.  Cecelia or I helped only locate a few which included an old dried-up Phaeolus schweinitzii, some Suillus tomentosus, a nice sample of one Lactarius deliciosus, a couple of clusters of the ground-inhabiting Pholiota terrestris, a small Suillus brevipes, an as-yet unidentified Hygrophorus, and some of the beautiful yellow Pholiota aurivella group, which was in a stump near the field campus parking lot.

After the foray, I went back to the field campus and listened as Dennis talked about the different mushrooms. I learned lots about the terminology used to describe the mushrooms and their growing habits.

It turned out to be a very enjoyable weekend, both meeting all the friendly students, and the learning experience.

Friday, October 18: This afternoon I went back to the property above Greenville where I had been finding the large clumps of Marasmius oreades, this time to see if I could find more of the red Cortinarius.

I did found a few of those, put them in my basket, and decided to check out a ring of greener grass I had noticed earlier in the fall, that was about 5 feet in diameter, but had yet to produce any fungi.

I immediately noticed several clumps of what looked like all-purple Cortinarius, but when I picked one, there was no sign of a cortina, and the margin was inrolled.  It seems like almost every mushroom on this property grows in tight clumps!

The sizes varied from ¼ to 1½ inch in diameter.  I took some of each of the different sizes to look closer for any cortina, but found none.

A nice ring of firm, young Blewits (Clitocybe nuda)!

I cooked up all but the largest two, which I put aside to get a spore print, but went ahead ate a few to check the taste.  They actually tasted pretty good, so I cooked them up and they tasted even better.

This may change my past feelings about Blewits.  I will most likely return in about a week to see how much they have grown.

Monday, October 22: I went back to see if the Blewits had grown much since my last visit to Round Valley and only picked a few.  I also found two yellowish mushrooms with dull yellow, scaly, viscid when moist, caps that look like they turn tan from exposure, pale yellow, close adnate gills, white-yellow stipe with scales on it, and with what looks like veil remnants on the margin of the caps. Fred Stevens identified them for me from the pictures I sent him as the Armillaria albolanaripes.  I was thrown off originally by what seemed to be a farinaceous odor.

The blewitts (Clitocybe nuda)in the pan

Thursday, October 31: The temperature in Greenville has been getting colder each day, and on this morning, it got down to 18F.  I think the mushroom season is over up here.  But I decided anyway to go back to the property above town to see if the ring of Blewits had grown any since I checked them last, and hopefully that they didn't freeze.

They hadn't grown very much in those 9 days, but they showed no sign of having been frozen and there was enough there to fill a small bag, which I did.

Using some advice recently given to me by Larry Stickney, I sautéed them in butter to later make a cream of mushroom soup.  DELICIOUS!

We also had just returned home from the Breitenbush Conference, and the web page I made for our experiences there can be viewed at:  breitenbush.htm.

Thursday, November 21: Because of the recipe I just received (below), I decided to go back to my Shaggy Mane spot to see if I could find enough of them to try the recipe.

The ones I found hadn't seemed to have grown any in four days, probably because of the freezing nights, so I picked as many as I could, removing as much of the stem as possible.

Some looked like they had been frozen, and most were small buttons only about as large in diameter as a quarter.  I figured they wouldn't last much longer in the duff, as a few of the buttons had already started to turn black.

I still got about 4 cups worth, enough for a good taste treat and left-overs for inclusion in a meal later.  WE plan to use them in our Thanksgiving Wild Mushroom Strudel.

We both thought that they tasted great broiled this way, had a great texture, and I now have a greater respect for these mushrooms.

I think this REALLY means the end of the season at this elevation (unless we get some warmer weather).

Thanks again Larry, for the recipe.

The recipe:

From: Laurence Stickney
To: Herman Brown
Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Subject: Re: Shaggy Manes

Here's another scrumptious Coprinus recipe:

Cut C. comatus in half lengthwise.
Lay a long piece of cheese into each open half.
Lay in as well a sliver of butter atop the mushroom.
Place under hot broiler until golden brown, turning once.
Fast, easy, and a spectacular treat.

There are many possible variations for flavor outcomes,
whatever pleases you!

- Larry

Monday, November 11: We've already had about 4" of rain since last Wednesday, so I have been out looking for some signs of fungal growth.  The only mushrooms I found so far were a large bunch of Shaggy Manes (Coprinus comatus) near Lake Almanor (4400 ft), in an old staging area that always seems to produce Shaggy Manes about this time.

The rest of the forest was still pretty dry just a few inches below the top of the duff.  I had scraped a small area away to see if there were any signs of mycelium, and what I saw looked like a light dust.

More rain is expected, and I am sure the moisture will slowly penetrate the duff, so I will be checking periodically.

I haven't looked very carefully along Highway 89, along the stretch that also seems to produce a crop of Shaggy Manes every winter, but will probably do so soon.

Mushrooms and the Coastal Indians (top)

The following are reply messages from fellow MSSF members, in response to the following question from Jim Maley to Mike Wood and posted to the group:


Did our Bay Area Native Americans, who were great acorn gatherers, every collect and eat mushrooms?

Nobody, so far, has been able to answer this question and cannot find anything on it.  Does your fine group have anything on this ethno botany related subject? 

Thanks, Jim Maley
FFSC & UC EX. Master Gardener Santa Clara County

Here are most of the responses (by permission from the individual writers):

From Peter Werner: 

Ethno mycology is one of my favorite topics! Edible mushroom gathering has definitely been recorded among California Indian groups. Getting information specifically about the Native American groups of the Bay Area (that is, the various Coast Miwok and Ohlone bands) is a bit more problematic, since the Spanish rounded them up, forced them into the missions, and effectively destroyed their culture before very much was known about them.

The Pomo are a group that lives very near to the Bay Area, and the book Kashaya Pomo Plants by J. Goodrich, et al. records eight species of mushrooms gathered and ate by them, and two that were rightly or wrongly considered poisonous:

Agaricus campestris
- Baked on hot rocks or in the oven or fried.
Agaricus silvicola
- Plant top cooked on a flat hot rock and eaten.
Boletus edulis
- Cooked on hot stones, baked in the oven or fried.
Cantharellus cibarius
- Baked on hot stones or fried with onions.
Dentinum repandum
- Baked on hot stones, in the oven or fried.
Hericium coralloides
- Baked on hot stones, in the oven or fried.
Peziza aurantia
- Cooked on hot stones, coals or eaten fresh.
Pleurotus ostreatus
- Cooked on hot stones, baked in the oven or fried.
Amanita muscaria
- Plant considered poisonous.
Lycoperdon sp.
- Plant considered poisonous.

(I got the above information from an ethno botanical database that got the information from the Goodrich's book rather than directly from the book.)

The above survey was done in 1980 and its hard to say whether any or all of these mushrooms were consumed in pre-contact times. The Kashaya Pomo are the indigenous inhabitants of the Sonoma Coast, and had extensive contact with the Russians at Fort Ross (in fact, a hybrid Russian/Aleut/Pomo culture arose around Fort Ross in the early 19th century), and later would have had contact with the Italian-American ranchers who came into the area later in the 19th century. On the other hand, if the Kashaya use of Boletus edulis pre-dates Russian contact, then that would push back the tradition of porcini gathering at Salt Point many centuries!

I have some other references to California Indian mushroom use that I need to recheck - I'll talk about these in a follow-up post. - Peter Werner

More from Peter Werner:

I've gone through some ethno botanies of California Indian groups and found some references to mushrooms gathered by groups in Sonoma/Mendocino (Pomo and Yuki) and the Central Sierra (Miwok and Maidu). Its kind of extensive, so I'll probably scan the information into a document this weekend and leave it in the MSSF archive - I'll drop a note when I do this.

In Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, the Yurok, Karok, and Hupa have a longstanding tradition of gathering Matsutake, which they often refer to using an English-language common name, "the tanoak mushroom". 

(Interestingly, this same English common name is used by the Pomo to describe Amanita lanei.)

These groups are apparently avid Matsutake/tanoak mushroom collectors to this day, and in 1993 the tribes filed a brief trying to block the commercial Matsutake harvest in the Happy Camp ranger district of Klamath National Forest, complaining that commercial collecting was interfering with their traditional harvest. - Peter Werner

From Debbie Viess:

Amanita "lanei" nomenclature is headed back to A. calyptroderma, but it all points to native amanita eating.

BTW, all this use of past tense is problematic and misleading. There are descendants of all of these tribes still living in California. The gal who told me about the coccora was a friend of several of the Pomo up north, and if you have questions about what the Ohlone ate (eat) in the way of mushrooms, why don't you ask them? There is an Ohlone festival every year in October at Coyote Hills Regional Park.

Picking nits 'til the mushrooms arrive, Debbie Viess

From Irma Brandt:

Here's a couple of things "picked" off the gomendo.com website......

Mushroom Tips & Tidbits

Coastal Pomo Indians cooked local mushrooms such as chanterelles, hedgehogs, and oysters by baking them on hot stones.

In a restaurant, ask which wild mushrooms are in a dish to encourage chefs to put the names on their menus.

Labor Day is near and mushroom season almost here....!

Happy Harvest,


From Jeanne Campbell:

David and I have been under the impression that Bay Area Native Americans(?) did in fact gather mushrooms.   A Bay Area Native American would be Miwok and Coastanoan.  By way of example, Miwoks were also in Yosemite and called themselves the "Ahwaneechee".  Circa 1770, the Miwok domain had a pocket in Lake County, extended from Southern Sonoma/Marin to the Central Valley due east of the Bay Area, and mushroomed into the Sierras from Crystal Basin to Yosemite Valley.

A search at the Mariposa Tribune Web Site, produced a couple of university reports about Miwok Indians, which said they gathered mushrooms (referring to Yosemite Miwoks)

I also found a report on Native American land practice use in the Sierra Nevada and its ecological impact which said  "Sierra Nevada Native Americans also burned mushroom patches to promote better yields and quality."

On our last WAM foray, we met a couple of NFS rangers from Fresh Pond Station (El Dorado) who described the plan that's being implemented in the Crystal Basin of forest thinning/control burning as an attempt to simulate the way the Native Americans, who lived there, used to tend their forest.

If Miwoks were doin' it in Yosemite, they were doin' it in the Bay Area! I'll pay more attention if and when I'm at the Miwok Village in West Marin where we took our daughters 20 years ago!  - Jeanne Campbell

More from Jeanne Campbell:

By way of clarification on my original comment, I had put a question mark after Bay Area Native Americans because that was what the original inquiry was directed toward. What exactly is/was a "Bay Area" Native American (definition of Bay Area...etc.) and that's why the reference to Miwoks and Coastanoans.  We have a wonderful book we got in 1970 when it was first published by the University of California Press entitled the California Indians. There is a map in the book of Native Tribes, Groups, Dialects, and Families of California in 1770.  According to that map, those were (the) Bay Area Native Americans.  By the way the Coastanoans (who are shown in the book as being in San Francisco) were also as far down as Monterey. - Jeanne Campbell

From Robert Mackler:

Many years ago, in the vicinity of the Stewart Point Rancheria, I was told that the name of  A. lanei was "the tanoak mushroom" and that it was eaten by the tribe (the Kashya Pomo). - Robert Mackler

From Dan Long:

I'm not a academic in this group, and I'd usually sit on my hands and appreciate the banter on these topics, but, what fertile ground...I think the local Indians would pretty much search the same mushrooms that we pursue. And they would know that they were edible because they observed that the wild pigs would eat the chanterelles and the deer would eat the boletes, ect. I wouldn't think that it would be documented because we all know how true mushroomers don't disclose where they find anything! Some things never change. - Dan Long

From Laurel Day:

I, myself, can't imagine making acorn porridge without mushrooms. It would be like eating wallpaper paste.  Or stuffed mice without a tasty fungus.  Totally unimaginable.

I would assume that the American Indians felt the same way. And if a few pale faced people tried to get me to change my beliefs in Nature and my culinary habits, I would resist as long as possible, just as the Ohlones did.

Here is a list of food that our Bay Area ancestors did eat:

Ohlone Indians http://www.belmont.gov/hist/disc/ohlone.html
Sanchez Adobe Historic Site Pacifica http://www.ci.pacifica.ca.us/Sanchez.html


Acorn Bread
Acorn Chips
Acorn Mash
Ohlone foods:
insects - lice, grasshoppers, yellow jacket grubs (Like croutons, adds that special crunch.)
ground squirrels 
wood rats (tastes like chicken.)
rabbits - lots and lots of rabbits. Took 200 rabbit skins to make one blanket.
shellfish - mussels, clams, oysters, olivellas, crabs, barnacles, abalones
fish - smelt, salmon
geese, ducks
seabirds and eggs
mushrooms, hazelnuts, luaren nuts, pine nuts, cherries, buckeyes, clover, poppy, mustard, miner's lettuce, cow parsnip shoots, columbine, milkweed, larkspur, cattail roots, mariposa lily bulbs, strawberries, wild grapes, currants, gooseberries, huckleberries, manzanita berries

TABOO  were eagles, buzzards, ravens, owls and frogs 

- Laurel Day

From Judy Christian:

So far, the only thing I have been able to find does not cover the Bay Area per se. According to the V. K. Chestnut publication, "Plants used by the Indians of Mendocino County California", the following excerpts is all I have been able to find on the subject. (There is information on seaweeds and lichens as well.)

My observation is that although reports were given to the author about mushrooms used and eaten by the Indians, some of the comments exhibit confusion or lack of real science:

Reprinted by Mendocino County Historical Society.
Contributions from the U.S. National Herbarium vol. VII


Clavipes purpurea (Fr.) Fl.

The common ergot, a dense, black, parasitic fungus, which permeates the seeds of various grasses and alters them into elongated club-shaped masses, was found growing rather abundantly on the grains of the wild lyme grass (Elymus triticoides) in Round Valley. Its general medicinal use is well know to the Indians. No special name was learned for it.

LYCOPERDACEAE. Puffball Family
Lycopedon sp.

Me-en"-chip"-a-soi' (Yuki) - The common puffball, or devil's snuffbox, which was observed growing very plentifully on the ground after a prolonged rain storm in May, 1898. All of the Indians disclaim any knowledge of its really edible qualities. The leathery outer covering of the same or a similar species was seen in 1892 in the possession of an Indian medicine man, who used it along with other highly prized paraphernalia in his professional outfit. Several skins, each containing pieces of gravel, were securely fastened to a small stick, and this instrument was used to make a peculiar, rattling sound. It is well known that when fully mature the spores of this plant are discharged from its interior in the form of an impalpable, smoke-like powder. It does not seem at all unlikely that this characteristic has led the Indians to look upon it with superstition. The spores are used to some extent to dry up running sores.

POLYPORACEAE. Bracket Fungi.
Polyporus sp.

Ka-la' cha'a (the "ch" explosive) Calpella CA - A wood-like fungus which grows on the base of alder trees and on logs. It was described as being brown on top, white underneath, and hard and smooth all over its outer parts, the inner part being soft and salmon-colored when thoroughly boiled and characteristically arranged in horizontal layers. It appears to be more highly esteemed by all the Indians of this region than any other fungus. (It is purported to be very fine eating with a flavor of salmon.)

BOLETACEAE. Pore Fungus Family.
Boletus sp.

Ko-o' cha'-a (the "k" and "ch" explosive) Calpella CA - A fungus, evidently belonging to this genus, which is white on top and has a white fracture that rapidly turns blue and then black. My Indian informant told me (the author) that three white men living near Ukiah were made very sick "several years ago" by eating this plant. Another fungus, probably a boletus, for which no special name was given, is eaten raw by the Calpella Indians. It grows in the woods and is yellow on top and green beneath.

AGARICACEAE. Mushroom Family.
Agaricus campestris.

Hi-gat' (Yuki) - The common field mushroom, which is elsewhere universally esteemed for its food value. All of the Indians appear to be somewhat superstitious about eating this fungus, but since they make a practice of selling it to the white people, it is quite probable that they do eat it to a considerable extent. A few of the men expressed the belief that this was the kind that poisoned some white people several years ago.

Amanita Muscaria L.

From the history and symptoms of a fatal case of poisoning of which an old Indian (Tony Laycock) was the victim at Round Valley in 1894, related to me soon afterwards, I judge that this fungus was the cause of death. Other Indians are reported to have been killed at other times by eating fungi.

Ka'-e (the "k" explosive) is the Yuki name applied to an edible fungus 4 to 6 inches in diameter, which was described as growing on the ground in scattering forests of oak and madrone trees, and as having white gills. 

-Judy Christensen

Laetiporus What? (top)

The following information was provided by Mike Wood (www.mykoweb.com), in regards to the following comment in an MSSF mailing from Patrick Hamilton: 

David Rust wanted to maybe begin a Mushroom of the Month section for the column and why not?  Let's start with the above mentioned late summer beauty.  "Chicken of the Woods," "Chicken Mushroom," "Sulfur Shelf," "Sulphur Cap," et al., was once scientifically known as Polyporus sulphureus and then around 1969 or so it began to be listed as Laetiporus sulphureus.  Mushroom book authors from McIlvaine to Krieger, Stuntz and McKenny, from Lincoff to our own Arora, have always written that it is at least "edible" and even "choice" to some.

From Mike:

The prominent American mycologist William Alphonso Murrill (1869-1957) created the genus Laetiporus in 1904. Murrill moved Polyporus sulphureus to the genus Laetiporus in 1920. So the name Laetiporus sulphureus is over 80 years old.

Recent mating studies of Laetiporus from across the United States have shown that we have six species of "sulphur shelf": L. cinncinatus, L. conifericola, L. gilbertsonii, L. huroniensis, L. persicinus, and L. sulphureus. All of these species at one time were known as L. sulphureus and many of them are difficult to distinguish by morphological means, but they do not mate and therefore are different species.

The "true" Laetiporus sulphureus is not known to occur in the western United States. Locally we have L. gilbertsonii growing on Eucalyptus and L. conifericola growing on conifers. The fact that the North American sulphur shelf is actually six species, rather than one, MAY be part of the confusion about the edibility of the mushroom.

I have eaten 4 of the six species: L. cinncinatus, L. conifericola, L. gilbertsonii, and L. sulphureus. One of the other two species is supposed to be very bitter and therefore probably not edible. I have had no problems with any of these four, but my rule for eating the sulphur shelf mushroom is to ONLY eat very YOUNG specimens cooked VERY well. Your mileage may vary. 

Some interesting information is on Tom Volk's Fungus of the Month pages, where he discusses L. cinncinatus: http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/jul2001.html

L. cinncinatus is very white as you can see in this digital pic I took of it last summer in Minnesota: http://www.mykoweb.com/photos/Laetiporus_cinncinatus(mgw-01).jpg

It is also very tasty!

If you are interested in why the genus Polyporus has been broken up in the last 100 years, check out Tom's "Polypore primer: An introduction to the characters used to identify poroid wood decay fungi": http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/polypore.html

- Mike Wood

A Recipe using Candy Caps (Lactarius fragilis) (top)

The following recipe is from another fellow MSSFer, Irma Brandt:

I make a really nice rice dish using the fresh candy caps that I usually serve along with Cornish game hen...or the wild game dishes that Mike Wood likes.  But the rice dish is quite substantial and delicious all by itself ....and while you don't eat meat, you might eat the Cornish game hen....

I cook up a batch of wild rice and a batch of white basmati rice as well (portions depending on how much you want to serve or have for leftovers.  I like the wild rice for crunchiness and  the white rice for color contrast .

My ingredients are -

chopped pecans
shallots, diced
sweet butter
grape seed oil
chicken stock
kosher salt
fresh sage, chopped  (I think the sage really compliments the candy caps... other options might be thyme, marjoram or any other herb you prefer)
butternut squash soup (the one that comes in a carton sold at Trader Joe's) - these various soups that come in the cartons are great recipe enhancers)

oh yeah....I almost forgot the most important ingredient... the candycaps......I use
just the caps... save the stems for drying for other recipes.

Toast the pecans and set aside.  Melt the butter, add the grape seed oil so butter doesn't burn, gently sauté shallots, add the candy caps (if the caps are small it's nice to leave them whole so they are recognizable... if real big, cut them in half or quarters)... add just a touch of chicken stock if more liquid is needed... add your rice and a bit more chicken stock to your sauté, add butternut squash soup (just enough to make a nice rich mixture - not too liquidy), sage, chopped pecans and salt to taste... after a few more minutes of sautéing to incorporate all ingredients add a splash of brandy... let sauté a little longer to blend all the flavors.  Serve a heaping mound of this and top with Cornish game hen if you like.

A wonderful vege topping is a sauté of carrots, celery and green beans.....yep...the glorification of celery and carrots.... make long, thin curls of carrots using a potato peeler.....julienne long, thin strips of
celery....and slice green beans in long thin strips........do a sauté of this using butter, oil, shallots, thyme or marjoram, salt and a little soy sauce....put the green beans in first cause they take the longest to soften,  add carrots and celery and gently sauté until celery is just wilted........and top your candy cap rice with this.......

Happy cooking  and if you have 'shroom for one more, let me know   8~)


Featured Mushroom, Boletus orovillus (top)

Because of my recent all-yellow boletus find, this issue’s featured mushroom is the Boletus orovillus.  I had originally assumed it to be the B. appendiculatus and had eaten it, but with no ill effects.  I have advised both Fred and Mike to add to their Mykoweb description, under Edibility:

"Edible for some people, and said to taste something like the B. appendiculatus."

Here is the link to the Boletus orovillus at the Mykoweb website: Boletus orovillus