Fourteenth Issue, June 2004
Published about twice a year from Greenville, California
by Herman Brown 

Click on most images to see a larger picture


This spring was a pretty good one for finding morels.  The season started earlier than expected, resulting in our finding many large morels, some, if not, the biggest we have ever found.  We also had some brief rain showers which seemed to extend the season a bit.

I also met up with a couple of members of the Mycological Society of San Francisco this spring, to hunt for mushrooms near one of my favorite spots.  We were pretty successful both times.  And it is always enjoyable to pick with those who can teach you a few things or two.

In the Bay Area, it apparently was a good year for Candy Caps, so I have included some of the dialog on the subject from the MSSF members.

Findings, February to June 15 (top)

February: We just got back from a 10-day trip down south to visit with friends and family, and to see what winter mushrooms were coming out down that way.

We had hoped to find some Chanterelles, but found none.  We did find several other species, including the edible Agaricus augustus, Lactarius rufulus, Agaricus fuscofibrillosus, Lepiota rachodes, Blewits, Sparassis crispa, and the almost ubiquitous Helvella lacunosa.

To see a full report with pictures, you can go to: winter_04.htm

All of the pictures are each linked to a larger image.

If you can identify any of the ones that I didn't, please let me know, as I usually try to have names with pictures.

Saturday, March 6: On this day, Cecelia and I went to the same place we had gone last year (mush11.htm#findings), to see if the recent warmer weather had brought out any mushrooms. We found a few of the same species, including several Laccaria amethystina. This may indicate that the season is about a month behind that year's schedule, and means checking for orchard morels a bit later, i.e., May 16. I feel that they will probably appear earlier than that, as it has been much warmer than usual for over a week.

Monday, March 9: Today we traveled south to Arroyo Grande, and the following day, went further south towards Santa Barbara looking for Chanterelles at some of my "old spots" along San Marcos Pass.

The first Chanterelle spot near Lake Cachuma proved fruitless. On the next stop, closer to where we used to live, I was disappointed by seeing all duff that had probably been removed earlier by previous Chanterelle hunters, most likely one of the same to whom I had given my spot locations when we moved from the area.

After looking around and under the undisturbed duff and finding nothing, we decided to push back some of the displaced duff to help prevent the drying out of the substrate. As soon as I pushed back the largest pile, I found what turned out to be the biggest Chanterelle of the day.

We now knew that they were there to be found somewhere!

We soon found one more close by, and about 8 total for the day, looking in some of my other spots, all showing signs of recently being disturbed. Not a bad haul for going over recent pickings.

When we returned to my daughter's home in Arroyo Grande, I cleaned the Chanterelles for preparation that evening, burying the cleanings under the duff of the Live Oaks on their property.

Maybe in a few years?

Also, on the day we left, my son-in-law traced us down at the place where we were getting a tire fixed, and presented me with a bunch of Agaricus augustus (The Prince) that he had found on the property after we left, at the same place he had found them growing earlier this year.

I put the cleanings in OUR yard when we got back.

Tuesday, March 30: We had been checking the areas around Greenville at least once a week lately, but still no morels in the apple orchards yet. However, today we went down to a lower elevation to check along Caribou Road off Highway 70, and had better luck. We went to the same area where we usually find a few morels, which is just over the bridge on the left, just after the Gasner Bar Campground.

The first thing we saw was a couple of common brown cup fungus, followed by some rather small zoned-capped Polyporus, and one striking, bright orange jelly fungus, the Tremella mesenterica.

On the way back to the truck, we actually found two tiny light brown morels. We then stopped and had lunch at the campground.

After lunch, we returned back to the same area to recheck it with "light brown" in mind and found a nice batch of Oyster Mushrooms, but alas, no morels were to be found. We then traveled up the dirt road towards the fire zone, but saw nothing but rocks.

There were probably more tiny ones around that bridge, but maybe in a week or two, they will be big enough to notice.

It's a start! It's time to check the apple orchards! 

Tuesday, April 8:  We found four 2-inch tall black morels in a small orchard near us, at around 3700 ft. According to my notes, there hopefully will be some coming up at 4400 ft. in about a week.

Sunday, April 11: I found only one morel today, near an old apple tree at the edge of town, but it was fresh and 4" tall.

Monday, April 19: Today I checked a few of my morel spots at 4400 ft. but found none. However, as I drifted south towards home, I finally started finding some mushrooms.  The first few were just little brown mushrooms, but later I started seeing mounds under which looked like an all-white Hygrophorus of some kind.  At the next stop I found more mushrooms, most white-spored. I left all of these, unidentified, in the light rain.

The last stop was at a rest area near a lake, and here I found a hillside literally covered with Calvatia sculpta, varying in size from a bit larger than golf-ball sized to a bit larger than a softball.  I filled my basket and gave half of the crop to a friend in town who is very fond of them.

It looks like the season has finally started at 4400 ft.

Unfortunately for our own immediate collecting, we will be gone for a week. However, the morels should hopefully be out by then.

Tuesday, April 27: I went out today to recheck some of my morels spots near the same area, but no luck finding morels YET.

However, when I rechecked my Calvatia sculpta (Sculptured Puffball) spot (from last week), I found a fresh new batch.

Some of these will be added to tonight's meal.

Thursday, April 29: Early this evening, I decided to recheck my Snow Mushroom (Gyromitra montana) spot in town, which is at 3600 ft., and I FINALLY found a few.  After I rechecked the area to see if there were more, I found one small Black Morel.

It's a start! 

During April: Below is part of a dialog I just had with the Plumas NF regarding permits for picking mushrooms. The end result is that this year, one doesn't need a permit to pick a grocery bag full of mushrooms.

From: Sandra Stark
To: Herman Brown

Herman,  As for your question about mushroom permits, you do not need a permit at this time to gather just a few for your personal use on the Plumas National Forest.

Thank you--

Sandy Stark
Information Receptionist
Plumas NF, Supervisors Office

To: Sandra Stark
Subject: Re: mushroom-picking permits

Hi Sandra,

What constitutes "a few"?  If I find a good batch of morels, I may collect a few pounds if I can fill my basket, and dry them at home for later consumption.  Is a few pounds enough to get a citation?


From: Sandra Stark
Subject: Re: mushroom-picking permits

I asked our Public Services Staff Officer for the Plumas Forest and he clarified this. He said that anything the size of a grocery store sized plastic bag or smaller is OK. Anything more is not.

Thank you for your request for clarification.

Sandy Stark
Information Receptionist
Plumas NF, Supervisors Office

Saturday, May 1: Today I decided to go back to my Snow Mushroom and Puffball spots to see what developed since my last visit. This time I was able to get Cecelia to come with with me, and she seems to be able to see more than I do, mushroom-wise.

Close to town we picked a few small Gyromitra montana, but didn't find any morels.  We then went up to the puffball spot and collected 3 more Calvatia sculpta. One was attached to the ground, the other two had been kicked loose by someone. I put all in my basket.

Then Cecelia found a batch of snow mushrooms nearby. She also noticed some small orange cup fungus, which encouraged us to start checking some of our morels spots in the sane area.

At the first spot, we found one solitary morel, but very close by in some burned debris, we found a small batch of morels, almost as dark as the charcoal. We continued to check a few more places, but only found 3 more morels. We also found a few more batches of the Snow Mushrooms and some Sarcosphaera crassa, both which usually accompany the morels in this area.

The haul wasn't very good, 9 small to medium-sized morels and twice as many snow mushrooms in a couple of hours, but well worth the visit. After finding these few morels at that elevation (4400 ft), we decided that tomorrow we will check out a burn area south of here, an area which is around 5000 ft. It should be a nice drive and a good spot for a picnic.

Sunday, May 2: Today, instead of going to a burn area, we went back to the lake to check some of our other usually faithful morel spots. 

The first yielded about a dozen small to medium sized ones most inside fire rings, the second, 2 large ones, and the third, none.  However, we started seeing more of the orange cup fungus and Sarcosphaera crassa, both a good sign for potential morel occupation. We then decided to go to a higher elevation where there might be more moisture, at around 5000 ft. to a fairly recent logging operation, and there was still patches of snow on the ground.

At first it looked like we struck out, but then I found one pretty good-sized morel. Encouraged, we kept looking and soon we found a batch of Gyromitra esculenta, some Sarcosphaera crassa, and a few more morels, some even in small groups.

With the discovery of the few morels, we started looking more carefully and began to check the draws that went up away from the road, which we had avoided earlier because we were getting pretty weary by this time.

Then we hit pay dirt!  As our eyes became more calibrated for seeing the morels, we started finding batches of them, including a batch of Snow Mushrooms, the Gyromitra montana.  Most of the morels were still pretty small, but we gathered enough to fill 3 trays of our American Harvester dryer.

Not a bad haul for the day. Maybe in a week? According to the Morel Growth Study shown at, they should be about 2 inches taller by then.

Tomorrow, 5000 ft or higher!

Monday, May 3: Encouraged by yesterday's morel find at 5000 ft., we decided today to go up to the another spot at about the same elevation.

I stopped the truck near a slight draw with green grass patches scattered around, where we had found a patch of morels last year, and immediately saw two nice-sized morels. I took my basket out, found two more very close by, but that was it for the day. We saw very little traces of moisture wherever we wandered. In most cases it was bone dry 6" even below the surface.  The recent rash of warm days seems to have melted the snow far too fast.

Another spring-less year?

Tomorrow, we plan to check out an area that is above 6000 ft.

A batch of about 13

the Stash of morels
The stash at home

Tuesday, May 4: Where yesterday was a pretty big disappointment, as far as bringing home any morels, today was more than exciting, as well as rewarding.

This morning we decided to travel north towards an area at around 6000 ft, to see if the morels were out up there yet. On the way, at around 5100 ft., we stopped at a recent logging operation that we had earlier planned to check this year.

As soon as we got out of the truck, I found one of the biggest morels I have ever seen up here, and we went back to get our baskets. It was obvious that we weren't the first to arrive there, and we noticed a few commercial-looking pickers not too far from where we parked the truck. I had found that the bigger ones were near the main road, where I spent about a half-hour picking.

I even found a cut morel stump that was about 4" across, so I knew that the season there at least was well along.

We found several more but decided to continue on to the higher elevation and have lunch.

There was too much snow at 5900 ft, so we went back, this time parking a little south of the commercial-looking couple, who were still bending over pretty regularly. I am guessing that they had a pretty good day.

Within 10 ft. of where I parked the truck, Cecelia found 4 large ones, so we figured the pickers hadn't gone this far south yet, as these were right out in the open.

For the next few hours, we saw lots of evidence that there had been recent picking done where we were searching, but we still found lots of small to large morels. At about 1:30, we noticed that most of the shady spots had several morels in them, so we just walked along looking for areas with ruts that were in the shade. In a few spots we found hundreds of cut morel stumps, and even found a few large ones that had been missed.

We also found some Agaricus albolutescens that had just been kicked over, so I put these in my basket too. We also found some Sarcosphaera crassa, one large Gyromitra montana with a large morel squashed underneath it, and one Ramaria rasilispora.

Cleaned, they came to over 7 lbs. Not too bad for about 3 hours work.

Wednesday, May 5: I went back to the same place as yesterday with a neighbor. We found a few batches of large ones about 100 ft from the truck, and a few more as we walked or drove along a dirt road. I even found a batch of small dry ones in the center of the road, and a few fresh small ones along the side of the rut in the road.

On the right is a picture of one of the first batches.

There was evidence of previous pickers no matter where we went, but we must have found some spots they missed.

We ended the day early but satisfied.

Thursday, May 6: For the third day in a row, I went back to the same spot (5000 ft) this time with Cecelia, and we were able to collect 5 lbs. of morels between us. If we had had more time, we would have probably collected another lb. or 2.

These averaged a smaller size, and we didn't find any large clusters, like the first day.

We also found one Gyromitra montana (Snow Mushroom) and a few very small, almost all-yellow boletes with white, non-staining flesh and minute pores, but I couldn't see any reticulations on the stem to identify it as a young Spring King.

We will probably continue to return to the same area, using my new GPS to avoid going over the same spots, until we come home empty basketed. We are looking harder than on the first day, and as a result, are finding them in the same spots we just walked over just a few moments ago, sometimes under bumps, twigs, or clumps of pine needles.

Also, so far the only varmints I have found with the morels while preparing them for the dryer, have been one small, hard, black beetle, and today, one ant.

Friday, May 7: Today I decided to recheck one of my spots at 4400 ft., while on the way to recheck the other spot at 5000 ft.

I found about a half-dozen morels, which indicates to me that the season is NOT over yet at 4400 ft. I also found one beautiful Yellow Coral Mushroom, the Ramaria rasilispora.

At the other site I found lots of small to medium-sized morels, some even pretty large. I spent a few hours going up and down steep tractor paths and found many groupings. As always with the morels, I saw many Sarcosphaera crassa. In one case I found a group of large morels that looked like they were growing OUT of a Sarcosphaera, they were so tightly entwined.

By the number of small morels I saw, I think it would be best to wait a week or two before I return there again.

Before I went towards home, I went back to the area at 5100 ft. in order to pick a few larger morels, which I did, about a half-lbs worth.

Just before I started down the mountain (about 3 pm), I stopped at a more recent logging operation the check for morels, but only found one natural.

Total for the day: 3 lbs.

Tuesday, May 11: Today was a pretty good day for finding morels.

I took a friend, who had never hunted for morels before, back to the same area where Cecelia and I have been finding morels pretty regularly, to see if we could find a few, and we did.

We walked too long for what few we found, so I decided to take him up towards a higher elevation. As soon as we had gone about a mile, it started raining pretty good so turned to go back towards the same area we had just picked, to try a different section further east.

As soon as we got out of the truck, we found a few nice-sized ones, and continued to find them as we walked. We both were pretty pleased with our finds. He soon got his eye calibrated and was finding them where I had just walked.

As it was getting time for me to head back home, we returned to the truck and continued down the road until I spotted a small area that looked promising. I parked the truck along the side of the highway, immediately spotted a few large morels, so I yelled "They're here!".

Morels in a bowl
MY morels

While at this spot, we found some of the biggest morels (and in large numbers), that I have ever seen. One morel weighed in at ½ lb. Some were under logs (squashed a bit), under piles of pine needles, sticks, and one large patch was under a large clod of earth almost 3" thick.

The total for the day was 11½ lbs between us, and I found more than I had ever found (8 lbs) since I moved up this way.

It was a fun Tuesday!

Thursday, May 13: On the way to the lumber yard, I stopped at the logging area that was at about the 5000 ft level.

With a quick walk-through I found what I expected, that the small ones I saw a week ago were now medium-sized.

On the way from the lumber yard, I checked another, older, logging area at about 4500 ft, where I had found some naturals last year. This time I found 4 medium-sized ones.

Total for this trip, 1 ½ lbs fresh morels.

Not bad for a quickie.

Friday - Sunday, May 14 - 17: This weekend we went to McCloud to take a ride on an old steam-driven train. When we got to McCloud, there was a mushroom buyer there next to the place we stayed overnight. When I went inside the van, there was someone with a large box of Spring Kings ranging in size from 1" to 3" in diameter. All I could find out was that they were being found somewhere between 3000 and 5000 ft.

The buyer said she was paying $12.50 per lb. for boletes but only $4 per lb. for morels because of the high numbers of recent fire morels being found.

On the train ride, I noticed a spot near Highway 89 that I thought I could locate later, which looked like it might be a good place to look for Spring Kings.

We found the spot on the way home, didn't find any boletes, but did find 19 nice-sized morels.

As we continued home we stopped at a few places around 6000 ft. but found nothing. At the logging site (5100 ft.), we searched again but at a different spot farther east and away from the road. As we got deeper into the forest, we found more and more morels, most pretty good-sized. We even found 2 Spring Kings, but only brought back the smaller one as was totally bug-free. We also saw one large Yellow Coral Mushroom.

As it was getting pretty late after the long trip, we turned around before we filled our baskets, but continued to find more on the way back to the car.

Some of the morel clusters we saw were completely dried out, a few were very old, but most were firm and white-fleshed in the stems.

Total morels for the short time we spent looking: 6 lbs. They looked in quantity like my 9-lb. batch, but were probably lighter because of the larger sizes and less moisture.

The season isn't over yet at this spot!

Tuesday, May 18: On my way back from the lumber yard I stopped where there was some fairly recent logging activity.

I had checked the general area earlier and had found nothing so this time I stopped a little further south.

Here I saw lots of fresh Sarcosphaera crassa, so I started looking carefully for morels.

I soon found a small batch of large fresh ones, then a few more, and just beyond that, 3 large Spring Kings!

I decided to take the mushrooms back to the truck and get a paper bag. I went back for about a half hour and found a few more boletes and large morels, which included 3 large naturals in an undisturbed area.

Total for the quick jaunt:13 large morels and 3 large Boletus pinophilus.

The ground was still pretty moist as a result of the recent rains, so the morel season is still there at 4400 ft. and the Spring Kings are now coming up.

When I cleaned them tonight, there were some small bugs near the pore tubes, but the morels were so fresh they were crunchy.

Wednesday, May 19: I took a short break from my current project to check an area closer to home that usually has a good supply of Spring Kings, but never this early. From my recent experiences, it seemed like the season started early, so I figured it should be the same at my spot near here at the same elevation (4400 ft.).

I walked quickly to most of my spots and finally found three Spring Kings, two 3" diameter ones and one larger one with bugs. The last, large one, was on the side of a dirt road between two spots.

I think it will be about a week for it to get into full swing for the boletes at that spot.

I wish I had more time to look!

Friday, May 21: I went back to the 5100ft. logging area again, by myself, to pick a few morels. I walked for two hours, but found enough for the day. Most were NOT fresh, although I did find a few that were.

Because many seemed to be so large, I walked pretty fast, as I could see them about 50 ft. ahead of me.

And because so many looked pretty old, including the smallest ones, and the Sarcosphaera crassa were all fully open, I think this means the morel season is close to an end at that spot. I still may go back occasionally and recheck some of the previously productive spots that were in the shady areas.

Yesterday, I found a few large morels scattered near the fire rings in the old logging areas, plus one tan coral mushroom and one fresh deer mushroom.

No Boletes this time though.

Monday, May 24: I am still finding morels near town at 5100 ft. I stopped briefly at a logging site where I had been having some success, and found about 2 dozen. Most were fresh, as this spot is mostly in the shade.

I also found 3 of the delicious yellow-staining Agaricus albolutescens.

Lots of Sarcosphaera crassa everywhere!

I am also seeing more and more other types of other mushrooms. The recent light rains must have done some good. It might even mean a new crop of morels.

No boletes today, however.

Tuesday, May 25: I just found about 30 nice-sized morels at 4400 ft., in an old logging area. I also found a few Boletus pinophilus (Spring King Boletes), some of them medium-sized and a few very large, wormy, and already removed from the ground, plus a few chomped-off boletus stumps.

A few of the morels were young, but most were fresh.

I guess the season continues.

These were found on the way back from the lumber yard. I just have to finish my projects so I can spend more time out there!

Wednesday, May 26: I went on a cursory search at one of my Spring King spots near town and immediately found 2 medium-sized ones plus the chomped-off stalk of a very large one. No more boletus sightings after that

On the way back to my truck and right next to it, I found 5 morels clumped together in an old rut from a bulldozer. This was quite a surprise for me, as I rarely find any morels in this particular area.

I also saw a few yellow coral mushrooms and a small patch of some Spotted Yellow Amanitas.

Most of the other bumps I found were occupied by cortinarii.

I will be checking the boletus spots again in few days, after I finish my big project. I am almost done!

I just got an email from a friend who lives in Taylorsville, along with a picture of a couple of mushrooms he found today in the center of a dirt road. They looked very much like Agaricus bitorquis and he is saving them for me.

These are one of my favorites to eat.

Saturday, May 29: The morel season up at the logging site (5100 ft.), has pretty much ended up here. We gathered a few there on Saturday, saw lots of dried up patches, some that were somewhat reconstituted by the recent rains, but none we picked were very fresh. All of the Sarcosphaera crassa we saw were pretty far gone too.

We then went to an area at 4400 ft. closer to home, and picked a few nice-sized Spring King Boletes.

I am hoping that my morel spots at the higher elevations. are finally producing.

Monday, May 31: Today was a fun day for finding mushrooms.

We thought we could take a trip this morning up to around 6000 ft. in hopes of finding fresher morels. On the way, we stopped at some old King Bolete spots.

At the first stop, the place where I had been finding Calvatia sculpta, we found another batch of them, but no boletes. At the next spot, we found several boletes and even a few morels.

At the next spot we found a bonanza of boletes. Unfortunately for us, the deer had found it earlier and left only a few intact. However, we got enough by then to make us want to stop looking for boletes and check for morels higher up, even though we found several large ones in the same area as the boletes. By this time, the basket was getting pretty heavy with all the puffballs and boletes.

We then decided we were too weary to travel much farther, so we just went to an area which is at 5100 ft. and closer to the lake.

This was another logging area that I had been checking pretty regularly. We immediately found some naturals near the truck and a few morels in the disturbed area, but most of those were not very fresh.

Soon we found some very fresh and large naturals under some bushes and along side the main road, and decided to just walk along the road and browse through the bushes instead of climbing up the mountain .Almost all the naturals we found were under bushes, large, and everyone of them was very much fresher than the disturbed area morels.

Morel in the bush
Hiding under the bushes

We also found a Hydnum of some kind, which was too young for me to identify, and lots of other different mushrooms.

After returning home early and cleaning the find, I decided to bury the clippings in an area above town where I had been finding a few King Boletes at 4400 ft..

I soon found 3 more in the same area that I had just checked yesterday. 

So the bolete season is now and there are still some large and fresh naturals to be found out there!

Wednesday, June 2: I took a short trip up to 4400ft. and only found a few boletes. The first two were beautiful, young, red-capped butter boletes, the Boletus regius.

The third was the also beautiful, but bitter-tasting, Boletus rubripes. The fourth was a small Spring King, the Boletus pinophilus. The rest of the Spring Kings I saw were too old for both the drier or the table.

I cooked the regius with the pinophilus and the result was pretty good tasting, and because all were pretty young, they had an almost crunchy texture.

I still haven't been able to take the time to travel past 5100 ft. yet.

My project at home is almost entirely finished, so I should have more time soon. I just hope it isn't too late!

Thursday, June 3: We finally went to one of our 6000 ft. mushroom spots today and had another good time picking.

We were out scouting the area, as we expect a few other mushroomers, including Peter Werner tomorrow, to be up this way for foraging, and wanted to make sure there was a productive place to show them.

Most of the morels we found today were pretty large, some were small, and some were massive (i.e, NOT hollow, something like the inside of a Gyromitra montana), a few weighing about 3/8 lb. a piece. All were fresh. I am now glad we waited until today to check out the area. It is a very large area and we barely covered it.

Total for the 3-hour scouting expedition: 6 lbs of morels, several small puffballs including one Calvatia sculpta, a few of the delicious, yellow-staining, Agaricus albolutescens, and one large worm-free Spring King Boletus. We saw more boletes, but most were too old to pick. One group was a batch of 5 all together in a very large mound, each pretty big but a bit too wormy for the table.

We also saw lots of the spotted yellow amanitas. 

It WAS fun today!

Friday, June 4: Today I met with Peter Werner in the mountains, so we could go on a hunt together at some of the places that I had scouted around 6000 ft.

We started at around 10:30am, and walked for about 2 hours before breaking for lunch and then moving to another spot.

Although the day was pretty short, we did pretty good, finding several large morels and a few Spring Kings. Peter was also collecting specimens for study and it looked like he did pretty good there too. It seemed like where we would find one large morel, we would find 4-6 more, but we did do a lot of walking.

The first place was at highest elevation and was where we found the most. At the few other places we checked, we didn't find very many, but we didn't really spend that much time at any of them.

This time I used my GPS so I could keep track of the places we searched, mainly in case I should return again later, which I may on Tuesday.

Hopefully there will still be a few left.

Monday, June 7: Today Cecelia and I took a longer trip to check out some other morel spots at around 6000 ft.

At the first stop we found about a dozen large morels and a nice patch of small, worm-free Spring King Boletes. But we did a lot of walking and climbing this time.

This logging area is probably too old for finding many morels, or else someone beat us to them.

We then went to a newer logging area further north-east, but it turned out to be too recent. However, Cecelia did find a small patch of large Spring Kings along the side of the main logging road, along with a red-capped Boletus regius.

All of these turned out to be pretty wormy.

I guess the 6000-ft spots would be a better bet for the next trip, provided I don't wait too long.

Friday, June 11: I met with Ron Bosia this morning in the mountains, and we checked out the same general area that I had with Peter Werner (both MSSFers) last Friday.  The area is NOT at 6000 ft, but closer to 5100 ft, but the ground was still pretty moist just under the surface.

We both did pretty good, but Ron found the biggest and most morels, along with several Boletus regius, most of them being found along the side of the road.  We also found a few Boletus pinophilus and a batch of pretty large Calvatia sculpta.

One was the biggest I had ever seen, and bigger than the Calvatia gigantia I found last year.

Most were pretty firm.

I will probably cook them up for using in a puffball lasagna recipe for tomorrow.

I was happily surprised that there were still fresh morels at this spot.

Tuesday, June 15: I went to the same general area that I had been with Peter and Ron at about 5100 ft., and tried to do what Ron said he did, which was to drive along forest roads looking for boletes.

I did that for awhile, and found a few, plus more Calvatia sculpta puffballs.

I then went to the campground where Peter told me he had found a small patch of morels, but I didn't find any.  However, I did find some fresh Boletus regius and B. pinophilus. These pinophilus had very bulbous stems, the largest having a stem almost as wide as the cap.

Encouraged by finding the fresh pinophilus, I went back to the same area where we had all parked to go into the forest earlier.

Near the parking spot, I found several more pinophilus and even saw a few fairly large Calvatia subcretacea, with the smaller warts, that were much too old to pick.  I also found 4 not-very-fresh-but-large morels.

It seems like the season for the pinophilus (and regius) will be there for awhile at that spot and I may even go back to my other pinophilus spot at 4400 ft, to see if any new ones came up there.

I had thought that the mushroom season was already about over!

Candy Caps Galore

This year was apparently a good one for Candy Caps, at least in the Bay Area, and the many findings inspired the following dialogs, which included both identification hints and recipes. I myself only found a few, and these were found in Arroyo Grande.

From: me

Hi Fred,

Do you have any pictures I can use of any of the L. fragilis look-alikes, other than the L. rubidus? Has it been decided that the only candy cap we have on the West Coast is the L. rubidus?

I keep reading about the L. luculentus. Is it really a look-alike? 

From: Fred Stevens

I don't have many Lactarius pictures, and none of L. luculentus. Depending on how broadly you want to define look-alikes the possibilities are numerous. The following seem to be most common north of San Francisco. Lactarius luculentus is typically more orange than L. rubidus and has a white, not watery latex with no syrupy odor. Lactarius rufulus is similar in color to L. rubidus, perhaps a little larger and has a white acrid latex, again no syrup odor. Lactarius rufus is another reddish-brown Lactarius with a white unchanging, very acrid latex and no syrup odor. Then there is Lactarius subflammeus and L. subviscidus, again reddish-brown species, but not possessing either a watery latex or syrupy odor. I could go on. The key to identifying candy cap is to pay attention to the the latex which should be watery, and the odor which even when fresh should have a noticeable sweet, clover quality that intensifies with drying..


From: Debbie Viess
Subject: Identification of candy caps

It has been an excellent season for candy caps this year this is a good year to learn about them and collect for your larder. 

Once the gills of the mushroom start to redden, they are spoiling. If the stipe is riddled with holes, there are plenty of maggots on board. 

Both these conditions are counter-indications for ingestion. If your candy cap has firm, pale orange gills, it is still fresh and good to eat. As to size, I saw a cap yesterday that was 3" across! The ones that occur under oak seem to get bigger than those that I find under pine.

To ID: burnt orange color, nubbly textured cap (run your finger over it), a skim-milk latex and a faintly sweet smell say candy cap. Xantohgalactus has a yellow latex, it's larger and heavier overall, and it often has a zoned cap; the color is different, too. Misidentification of your Lactarius sp. may spoil your meal but won't cause serious harm.

They are unpalatable, not deadly. Pick cautiously, and discard any that don't fit the above description of a candy cap. You'll get the hang of it.

Debbie Viess

p.s. slow drying of candy caps is recommended to produce the most intense smell and flavor..

From: Peter Werner
Subject: Candy cap cookie recipe?

A good place to look for mushroom recipes is the online copy of the Freedmans' Wild About Mushrooms cookbook:

Also, ambient musician Robert Rich has an online collection of vegetarian wild mushroom recipes:

The best thing I've ever made with candy caps was a crème caramel. I used the Cook's Illustrated recipe as my basis, and I've reposted it here:

For a candy cap crème caramel, use the following substitutions:

In the caramel, instead of 1 cup sugar and ¼ tsp lemon juice, substitute ¼ cup sugar and ¼ cup maple syrup (chemically, the maple syrup has sufficient acidity to eliminate the need for lemon juice). In the custard, instead of 1½ tsp vanilla extract, use ½ - ¾ oz dried candy caps (which is the equivalent to ¼ - ½ lb fresh. Preferably, one should use dried candy caps to cook with, since the scent really isn't fully activated until the candy caps are dried.), ½ Mexican vanilla bean, 1 Ceylon cinnamon stick, and ¼ tsp whole mace (or 1/8 tsp nutmeg). To infuse the candy caps, vanilla, and whole spices, follow the recipe given on the web page for espresso crème caramel, substituting the above mentioned ingredients for the coffee beans.

Hope this helps,


From: Charmoon Richardson
Subject: SAVORY candy cap recipe?

I recall a marvelous marinara sauce that John Pisto made for a WAM event at Oz Farms in Manchester a few years back. He sautéed the caps with shallots, I think, then added them to a fresh tomato marinara sauce with typical Med. herbs. Delicious!

 - Charmoon

From: Cyndy

On a related note, I'm wondering if anyone has found a use for fresh candy caps, prepared more traditionally (traditionally for mushrooms, that is)?

 - Cyndy

From: David Campbell
Subject: Re: candy cap cookie recipe? SAVORY candy cap recipe? 

Candy Caps are excellent fresh, and their culinary potential as a fresh savory mushroom seems to be largely undeveloped. They are quite unique.

They are not necessarily mapley when cooked fresh, though you smell the maple when they hit the hot pan, the flavors eventually give way to a rich and mellow spicy presence. Speaking of heat, they may pan out differently between high heat cooking and slower methods. We haven't really focused on that aspect as yet. We usually cook them on relatively low or medium heat...

Try them sautéed straight up with butter, s&p to taste.

We once added them to pasta with classic garlic/basil pesto, it altered the dish towards a mild curry effect. The mushroom is small, but mighty.

They show well in a tomato sauce.

Jeanne recently dressed up a pork tenderloin for roasting with a slathering of pesto, a mess of apples and sautéed Candy Caps, then served over a raspberry reduction on hot polenta. This was a happening dish!

They are a natural for including in a sauce for duck.

I like to include them in my "winter blend" with gold and black chanterelles, maybe some hedge hogs, in wild mushroom paté.

It's really cool to be able to serve mushrooms whole, that's another attribute they have from their small size, they can look great on the plate...

Culinary experimentation is in order for the fresh Candy Caps. I, for one, am interested in any feedback on the subject.


From: Robert Mackler
Subject: Re: SAVORY candy cap recipe

Candy caps have an affinity with butternut squash. Dried/powdered it can be added in moderation to butternut squash soup or to mashed squash with butter.

From: Robin MacLean
Subject: Re: SAVORY candy cap recipe

 I haven't tried this yet but was thinking candy caps might be a good flavor for Turkish Delight....

 - Robin MacLean

From: Louise Freedman
Subject: Re: candy cap article in S J Mercury News

When I collect candy caps in the field, I check the color of the latex of each one to make sure it is clear. At home I spread waxed paper on the counter and dry them on top of paper. They dry fast in our house. And I smell each one before I put them in a jar. Those that do not have the famous fragrance are discarded. I once saw a well-known chef sneak maple syrup into a bottle of vodka and called it "candy cap vodka". The audience was delighted.

 - Louise Freedman

From: Patrick Hamilton
Subject: Re: SAVORY candy cap recipe


Quickly sautéed in olive oil/butter with some minced shallots - over high heat, of course - then mixed with chopped nuts and dates and a little Amontillado Sherry, they'd be great in a stuffed pork.

Going with their almost curry-like flavor you could add a little turmeric for color, sauté them in lots of arified butter (ghee) and stuff them with some chopped coconut, spinach, and peanuts inside quail which have been rubbed in a freshly ground spice mix of your choice (try fennel, coriander, pepper, bay, cumin, etc) and then grilled and served with a raita.

Or how about making queso fresca enchiladas with them? Or just sautéed then tossed on hot pasta with a crumbled Gorgonzola?

They are fun mushroom to play with.

Todd Humphries uses them at his Martini House restaurant in St. Helena in as many savory dishes as he has mushrooms for.

Regards, Patrick

From: Elissa Rubin-Mahon who contributes to a culinary column in Mushroom the Journal

Candy Caps do work well with East Indian spices, such as cardamom, ginger and cinnamon for savory dishes. They also work well with smoked poultry such as smoked turkey and especially duck. One of my favorite ways to use them is with Chinese roast duck and hoi sin. They are also delectable sautéed with shallot in butter and with heavy cream and toasted black walnuts over pasta. I also have made ravioli with them and leftover roast pork, and served them in a broth with braised greens. In a red wine reduction sauce they are spectacular with grilled venison or lamb.

 As well as dehydrating them, you can dry-sauté and freeze them in small, wide-mouth glass jars for later use.

Regards, Elissa

Quote of the Season (by Debbie Viess) (top)

 "When mushroom picking is outlawed, only outlaws will pick mushrooms.

And there in lies the real crime."

- Amanitarita

Featured Mushroom, the Sculptured Puffball, Calvatia sculpta (top)

This puffball is one of the bigger ones and is endowed with a pretty good taste, that is, for a puffball.  We found several this year, and I even dried a small batch for future consumption.

It is one of the most striking to find, with it's showy pyramidal warts.

For a direct link for this mushroom on the Mykoweb site, complete with picture, go to: