2006 had a very wet winter and spring. In fact, it seemed to go directly from winter to summer. This seemed to result in a poor spring season for most mushrooms, especially the morels, but was fairly decent for the Boletus pinophilus.
In June, we attended a 3-day foray with the newly-formed Bay Area Mycological Society (BAMS), and had great weekend with those that attended.
Findings, May 1 to June 28 (top)
Monday, May 1: Several people have asked me about the snow levels and morels in the Northern Sierra.
First, there is little snow below 5200 ft.
Secondly, I went to a few of my "spots" today but saw nothing, not any mushrooms at all. Usually I will see at least some snow mushroom, but except for a few close to home, I have seen none.
The season up this way, at least at 4400 ft, usually starts after the second week of May, but because of all the late rain, I am guessing that the season will be a bit late too.
But I will be checking at least once a week, and if I see anything, I will let everyone know
Wednesday, May 10: I found a few species this week at 4400ft: one Sarcosphaera crassa, many Caloscypha fulgens, several large, Melanoleuca-looking mushrooms, one of what looked like a Hygrophorus pudorinus, one Discina perlata, and a few scattered Gyromitra montana. No morels seen by us yet, but I did get a report of some small ones being found last week at the same elevation.
Sunday we plan to check some of our spots at 5100ft.
Sunday, May 14: So far it has been a disappointing spring for mushroom collecting.
However, today we decided to check a few of our 5000-ft spots on the way to a Mother's Day brunch in Clear Creek.
The first spot still had lots of snow patches on the ground, and we found lots of the typical snow bank mushrooms, including a few Gyromitra gigas/montana. These were mostly pretty small, so we plan to recheck next week. I picked a few of the larger ones.
The next spot was a bit dryer, another old logging area, and we had walked for about a half-hour before I found a small patch of morels in the shade of a downed tree. Once I knew they were around, I checked around the area and only found a few more, but I did find one of the delicious amber-staining Agaricus albolutescens. This encouraged us to look a bit harder, but we didn't see any more edible mushrooms at this spot.
The next spot was about a 1/4-mile from this one, a place that I wanted to check because it usually produces a few morels even after many pickers have been in the area because it is in full view of the road, where we sometimes park the truck.
Here I found another small batch of morels. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I feel all of these were mostly naturals, as none were found in very disturbed areas.
A small bounty, but it appears that the season HAS finally started, although I am still not too encouraged.
Thursday, May 18: The snow level had been dropping steadily every day, but it rained and hailed a lot here last night. We will probably be checking up that way in a few weeks. On Monday, we observed larges patches at 4500 ft, on the north-facing slopes, found a few Gyromitra gigas/montana and Sarcosphaera crassa (a good morel indicator up here), but found no morels. We did however find a dozen or so near Lake Almanor, after about 3 hours of wandering.
Saturday, May 20: The following was in response to a somewhat disappointing mushroom report for the Central Sierra, from Patrick Hamilton:
Up here in the Northern Sierra, things are not much better. However, today we found lots of small approximately 1 1/2" diameter Spring King buttons (Boletus pinophilus) at 4500 ft, and are beginning to see more of the other species. We saw some bright Yellow Coral mushrooms, a few Sarcosphaera crassa, Orange Peel fungus, a few puffballs, a few large Cortinarius, a small group of the beautiful Armillaria albolanaripes, and a nice group of the amber-staining Agaricus albolutescens. Yesterday I had found a few boletus buttons and 3 isolated morels. Since Sunday, we have only found about a dozen morels after walking for several hours. Yesterday, we had picked about 1 1/2 lbs of the Gyromitra gigas/montana at around 5000ft. where the snow was still in large patches. There we also saw LOTS of the other snow bank mushrooms, including the Clitocybe albirhiza, but not much else.
In an area nearby that looked like a controlled burn that got out of control, we saw little "rivers" of the bright orange Orange Peel Mushrooms. I didn't have my camera, but wished I did.
So for the King Boletes at least, it seems the season is a bit early and the amount so far seems like it is going to be plentiful, but for the morels, they all seem very sporadic and naturals, with no disturbed area morels of any quantity being seen.
In a few days, I plan to recheck the same areas as today to see how much larger the buttons have grown. Last year they seemed to grow about an inch in diameter a day. The recent rains might help them grow even faster.
Later the same day, while walking back from town, I found a small patch of the Fairy Ring Mushrooms (Marasmius oreades)
Monday, May 22: This morning, in spite of the light rain, I decided to recheck a few of my Spring King spots at 4500 ft. to see how much they had grown since Saturday.
I picked a few that were now 3" in diameter, found a solitary, medium-sized morel, and continued to scout the area, not finding much of anything. The few boletus buttons I did find, I reburied and marked for later.
As I was turning around to return home, I spotted a huge (8") one, partially nibbled upon by a deer but worm-free, and right next to it, a 4" diameter one. Also very close was a small group of buttons, which I reburied and marked.
The general location for most of the boletes seems to be along the south-facing sides of dirt roads, on areas where they get the most sun.
Closer to home, I checked a few areas but saw no boletes. However, I did find two patches of beautiful, bright yellow Amanitas, about 2 1/2" in diameter, with the thick, white volva patch still covering most of the top of the cap. Nice picture had I brought the camera.
It still surprises me how early the Spring Kings are appearing, but I am not complaining.
I will probably be rechecking 4400 ft. every few days.
Later that day: After receiving a report from a friend who said he found a few morels at about 4400 ft. I decided to check out the area again and also look for Spring King Boletes.
I found lots more morels than boletes, but out of about 60 morels, only about 20 were suitable for the table. The rest will go into the dehydrator. It sure was fun finding them though. Some were in small groups about 3 ft. apart. Only a few were side by side.
All were found in undisturbed areas or old disturbed areas. Many were found along the side of the road as I was driving along.
Wednesday, May 24: This afternoon we went to 5100 ft, and found only 7 morels but several Gyromitra gigas/montana. Earlier today we picked about 4 Boletus pinophilus closer to home.
Friday, May 26: It was mostly sunny today, bit windy. I went to pick the King Boletes and found a few more patches. I now have several markers out.
Saturday, May 27: It looks like there is nothing but natural morels out there, anywhere, and in except in a few cases, very few. Found only 9 today after 4 hours of walking at around 5000 ft., but found LOTS of Gyromitra gigas/montana.
One tiny group of the morels looked more like disturbed area morels and they were just starting. A good sign!
Hope things change soon!
Wednesday, May 31: Today Cecelia and I decided to take a short bike ride along part of the bike trail at about 4400 ft. I brought along my bike basket just in case we saw some mushrooms along the way.
In short, we found about 5 pounds of Boletus pinophilus and one morel, either along the side of the bike path (a few) along the side of a connecting dirt road (more), or along the sides of the highway between Prattville and the rest stop where we had begun our journey (even more).
We also saw several Sarcosphaera crassa, some over-the-hill yellow coral mushrooms, and one yellow amanita.
The bolete sizes of what we saw varied from small buttons to some almost 4" in diameter. The season seems still about week early, at least along the lake's west shore.
It was a nice day for a bike ride too.
Later the same day: Later today, after placing all the earlier-found boletes in the dehydrator, I went back towards lake Almanor to check another old productive spot.
I parked the car and only took my small basket, not knowing what to expect. As soon as I had walked a few feet, I was approached by an older man who asked me if I was looking for mushrooms. I said "Yes", and he asked "Morels?". I said that I was looking for Boletus, as there weren't many morels out this year. He said "You're too late, I already found them all." He added that he had found two morels and a few boletus. I walked with him back to see his stash, found one morel, and on the way, I pointed out what used to be a good area for the boletes, but there were none showing. He said he had actually found his a bit further away, and then showed me his mushrooms. On the way, I actually found another morel.
He had a very large Spring King Boletus that wasn't wormy, a smaller one, and two morels. We talked a bit, and I found he was born in Germany and was considered by some to be an expert on mushrooms, having been the one the hospital would call to identify the culprit in a suspected mushroom poisoning. Pleasant fellow. Hope to run into him again.
At least I knew they were finally out, with his help!
He left to go back to his car because he was anxious to get back to his fishing. I continued on, finding a few boletes as I went south, but on the way back, I found where he had cleaned his big bolete, and it was on the very edge of the real spot I thought I had shown him. I looked around the same area very carefully, soon filled the small basket, then my tee-shirt, and went back to the car. I dumped this batch, got the bigger basket, and proceeded in the opposite direction from the car..
This apparently wasn't a very good direction to go, so after only finding a few morels and one bolete, I went back to the car, got the smaller basket again, and decided to recheck the area where I found the last batch.
In short, this time I filled the small basket again before I decided to call
it quits. Total for the this trip: 3 morels and 12 pounds of King
Tuesday, June 6: It looks like the King Boletus season is already winding down up here at the 4400 ft. elevations. On Saturday, with the help of two visitors, we gathered the equivalent of a shopping bag full, dried a third, cooked a third, and I threw away about a third (rather, I buried them in the forest). Today I found very few with light pore tubes, and even less without worm infestation. Earlier in the season, a 4" specimen could have almost white pore tubes, a large, bulbous base, and be worm-free. Now, even the smallest ones have narrow, straight stems, worm infestation, and yellow pore tubes.
In some shady places, the Yellow Coral mushrooms are still bright yellow, but all of the Amanita lanei seem very large, no buttons being seen now. Occasionally a solitary morel will appear. The mosquitoes are very busy!
Now we are going up to the higher elevations and try to remember to bring our repellant!
1. The deer seem to be avoiding the Spring King Boletes this year (up here at least). Most of the bites are pretty small, probably from squirrels, and they seem to rarely take more than a few bites, sometimes leaving an entire mushroom off to the side (earlier in the season).
2. The season for the Kings this year seemed a bit early, with the earliest ones being found in areas with almost full sun exposure.
3. As the season went on, the stems on all specimens seemed to be getting narrower and the pore tubes turning yellow sooner.
Wednesday, June 7 to Monday, June 12: For the last few days, we have been returning to some of our old spots every other day or so, and each time we seem to come home with a few edibles.
Today, we returned to a 4400 ft. spot near Lake Almanor where we had just been two days ago looking for Spring Kings. We found only one this time, but on the way to our spot, we found several Red-capped Butter Boletes, the B. regius. Just before that, at 5100 ft., we were looking to see if the Spring Kings had started appearing there yet, saw no Kings, but found 7 fresh morels and 7 medium to large Calvatia sculpta. It looked like this was at least the second crop, as there was several puffball skeletons nearby.
The day before, I had gone to a different 4400 ft. spot and found 3 large Spring Kings right next to the car. Most of the these were pretty wormy, but one that I found further up the road was pretty large and worm-free.
Two days earlier, at the other 4400 ft. spot, we found quite a few Spring Kings, some even with white pores and bulbous bases. About half of the larger ones were worm infested. We even found one morel that was fairly mature but good enough for the drier. These were found in the same spot we had picked several 2 days before that.
Each time we went out, I was convinced I had seen the last of the firm boletes. But I was wrong, at least today.
The freshest ones seem to be the ones in found in the shady spots.
And there were still fresh Sarcosphaera crassa at both elevations, but very few morels seen anywhere. The pink-tinged Hygrophorus seemed to appear now and then, mostly above 5000 ft.
Sunday, June 18: We just returned from the first BAMS
(Bay Area Mycological Society) foray at Yuba Pass. In short, it was a very enjoyable weekend. I want to thank again,
Debbie Viess and David Rust, for putting it all together.
Wednesday, June 28: We went up to Lassen National Park today to check out the snow, and on the way back, we stopped at a few places around 5800ft. elevation to see if any mushrooms were surviving the warm weather we have been having.
We only saw two mushrooms for the day: one yellow amanita, probably an A. aprica, and one Boletus rubripes.
These were probably the last mushrooms we will find until early fall.
Salvaging Wormy Porcini, (from Patrick Hamilton) (top)
My comment: I tried it and was pleasantly surprised at the results. We used some of the resulting mixture in a tasty Porcini and Elk Sausage Stew that Cecelia brought to the potluck at Yuba Pass.
Recipe for Porcini Hash Browns (by Herman Brown) (top)
One of the things that we found works pretty good with small Spring King buttons:
Porcini Hash Browns
Shred the buttons and mix with an equal amount of shredded potatoes. Using a large skillet, spread the mixture very thin and cook over a medium flame until the bottom is browned. Flip the hash browns and continue to cook until the bottom is also brown.
I broke an egg over the cooked hash browns, folded the hash browns over the egg, and continued cooking until the egg was done.
Featured Mushroom, the Amber-Staining Agaricus, Agaricus albolutescens (top)
This year, we only found a few of one of our favorite Agaricus, the Agaricus albolutescens. It is surprisingly sweet and nice textured, has an anise-like odor, and always a treat to collect for the table. However, some may have an unpleasant reaction to it. For a recent picture by Hugh Smith, go to: yuba_06/Hughs/2006-06-18-001-l.JPG
Go to for more information, go to http://www.evergreen.edu/mushrooms/phm/s53.htm.