22nd Issue, Spring to Summer, 2008
Published about twice a year from Greenville, California
by Herman Brown
  (background image from my younger granddaughter, Kailee)

Click on any picture to see a larger image


This year was a pretty good year for some specie collecting, and two of those were Spring Kings  (Boletus pinophilus), Morels (Morchella elata), and a specie yet positively identified but called by both me and Loraine Berry, the Boletus appendiculatus, one of the usually abundant butter boletes we find in the early summer under conifers.

Because we led several mushroom collecting  forays this season, we did not pick many mushrooms for ourselves but did see lots of happy faces.

Two new species for me this year were the  beautiful  Hygrophorus marzuolus and the Plicaria endocarpoides(?).

Findings, April 15 to , 2008 (top)

Monday, April 15: Yesterday, close to home at 3600 ft., I found one Snow Mushroom, the Gyromitra montana, so today Cecelia and I decided to check an area at 4400 ft.

There we found a few more of the G. montana and a few Discina perlata. Most were still pretty small yet. We didn't see any other mushrooms today.

There was still lots of snow around and it was pretty chilly, even with the sunshine, so we didn't spend much time looking. Maybe after a week of warmer weather?

It's a start!

Sunday, April 22: I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see some landscape morels in a friend's yard. I think I read somewhere that the Orchard Morels were next, followed by the burn site morels, and finally, the naturals.

That kind of tells me that the morel season here at 3600ft., is almost a month late, but it still may be coming.
I hope! It was 38 at 1pm.

Morchella elata found in some year-old landscaping
Morchella elata
found in some year-old landscaping

Heterotextus alpinus

Tuesday, April 24: I went back this morning to see how the landscape morels were doing, and they were mostly pretty dried up. So I went ahead and picked them. 

I guess we need more moisture pretty soon. When and if we do, I will recheck the same spot.

Thursday, April 24: Today it actually got pretty warm, so we decided to go back to our Gyromitra spot at 4400 ft. to see how much they had grown in a week. Not very much. One was already starting to turn brown.
We then went farther up the road until the snow patches got thicker, and took a walk along another dirt road.

There we saw lots of different species in a fairly short time, which was a pleasant surprise to both of us.

I did not ID any of them, but you will probably recognize most. The gray ones with the wide-spaced gills, had waxy gills. The large parts of a white mushroom were what was left over from some critter's meal.

I took a picture of a group of them when I got home plus one of a group of cupped jelly mushrooms.

Follow-up from Dimitar:

These in the middle there look like Hygrophorus marzuolus -- the waxy gills, strictly a Spring, snow bank species. Did you save it? That's an interesting one, rarely seen, at least by me. Distribution: Worldwide... Did you check for odor? You should have made a good, quality picture of these, Herman!! The orange ascos look like Heterotextus alpinus. I can't see well, but you might have Clitocybe albirhiza in there... ..it's not glacialis...

Monday, April 28: On Monday, after receiving a few reports of tiny collections of local morels, I took a short trip late in the day to see the road conditions along Lake Almanor, and if favorable, check a few of my spots.

The old road along the south end of lake was still mostly impassible, so I drove as far as I could and walked the rest of the way.

All I found as I walked were what looked one large Russula brevipes, some pink-tinged Hygrophorus purpurascens and some fresh Cryptoporus volvatus. I was hoping to find some Calvatia sculpta and/or Gyromitra montana, but saw none of either. I was really not looking that hard, as I was running out of daylight.

Saturday, May 3: Today Cecelia and I took a break from our spring chores and went up towards Lake Almanor to check out the area.

There are still patches of snow around, but the road to Prattville is now open from both ways.

The soil temperatures varied from 44 to 50F, but we still did not see any morels. We did, however, find several Snow Mushrooms (Gyromitra montana), a few Discina perlata, a few small puffballs (probably Calbovista subsculpta), some soap-scented tricholoma, and some pretty tiny Caloscypha fulgens, the bright orange cup fungus and possible morel indicator. There were also assorted smaller mushrooms around which I did not try to ID.

We also noticed saw a car parked near our last spot, with Arizona plates that said "Arizona Mushroom Club", so we apparently were not the only ones on the hunt today. 

Sunday, May 4: This morning we were invited to go on a foray at the Colby fire east of Forest Ranch, with a friend who lives in the area.

It was a beautiful day for a long walk, interesting country, but no morels. We tried using most of the tricks and tips I had been given, the soil temperature was above 50F, but we saw no morels.

On the way home we decided to stop at the same place above Chester where we had taken a group on a pretty successful morel hunt last year.

The road was open all the way and beyond, but there was still lots of snow on the ground.

But there were enough clean patches for us to be able to scout around the area.

We saw lots more Gyromitra montana and many snow bank mushrooms that I have never noticed before, but alas, no morels, yet.

On the way through Chester we stopped to talk with a fellow mushroom enthusiast, who told us that he had just found 6 morels in the area. He said they were NOT in a disturbed area, but rather in a place where he had found them before.

Maybe in a few days we will finally find some ourselves!

Also, the car with the Arizona plates was back in the same general area this morning. 

Maybe he/she/they is/are actually finding something more than Gyromitra montana?

Monday, May 5: I finally found some disturbed area black morels at 4400ft, mostly small ones, so I will return soon to pick again after they grow a bit! There were still patches of snow around the area, although several yards from where I found the morels.

I had run into the person with the Arizona plates today, introduced myself, and he actually helped me find the first morels. He had some in his bag that were almost 3" tall.

He showed me that I was almost stepping on them. I was on my way out, having not seen any.

After I got my eyes somewhat calibrated again, I found a few more.

I actually found some! I actually found some!

I learned a few hunting tips from him too, but I still could not seem to see nearly as many as he did. I need Cecelia's eyes!

It looks like the season at that elevation has finally started.

Plicaria trachycarpa?

Wednesday, May 7: Yesterday, we had gone back to the same exact spot at 4400 ft, where I had picked a few small morels, and again picked a few small morels. I wanted to show Cecelia the spot and also use her eyes. It worked. 

They seemed to grow pretty fast overnight.

Today, we went to our old Gyromitra montana spot closer to home, but instead only found one morel, a brown colored one.

Then we went up to our other montana spot where we had taken a group last year, around 5000 ft., and found several more montana. No morels yet. We did see some all-black cup mushrooms in a different, burned, area and a solitary snow bank mushroom that seemed to be different than we had seen before.
If you want to see the links to pictures of most of the finds, go to: 

Follow-up: That evening, Darvin DeShazer told me that he thought my black cup mushroom might be the Plicaria trachycarpa, or possibly the  Plicaria endocarpoides, if larger than 2.5cm.

Plicaria endocarpoides?

Thursday, May 8: Today I went out by myself to recheck my small morel spot at 4400ft, and to get a sample of the Plicaria trachycarpa I had just found, to show a friend.

After two days of not being there, I was able to bring back a total of about 2 dozen nice-sized morels. Two were pretty large. But the big surprise was finding a large mound under which there was a large Agaricus albolutescens, one of those delicious amber-staining agaricus. I plan to serve it to our friends who will be visiting this weekend. I also picked one of the Calbovista subsculpta that I had seen earlier.

When I arrived at the spot where I thought I had found the Plicaria, they seemed to have grown, or I actually found the other, larger species, the P. endocarpoides.

The picture shows three of them, the larger two being dug out of the ground. Two were over 2.5cm, and all seemed more brown than the first ones Cecelia found. 

Saturday, May 17: For the May 17 BAMS (Bay Area Mycological Society) foray, it had started for us the week before, on Friday, May 11th, with Cecelia and I providing lodging for Hugh and Sandi Smith, David Rust, and Debbie Viess, for the scouting expedition for the following weekend foray. 

On Saturday, we all went to the Moonlight fire area, meeting up with Ron Bosia, who was able to point the group in the right directions for finding the few morels they did find. We ourselves left empty-handed, but after a pleasant lunch with everyone in the shade of a few trees at about 5200 ft along a small creek. The rest continued deeper into the fire zone with Ron, finding only a few more along Moonlight Creek.

It was decided then that we would NOT take the group to the fire the next Saturday, so on Sunday, I took them to a few spots where I had seen some morels earlier in the week. We all found enough to be confident that the foray group would at least find a few, even if already dried. It was at the last stop that Debbie found some nice Agaricus albolutescens.

The rest of the week I scouted the area, including an area at around 5100 ft and again the fire area. I only found morels in a few sections of the nearby forest at about 4500 ft.

On the Friday night before the foray, Sandi and Hugh spent the night with us, and we met up with Debbie and David at the South Almanor West Campground. There, Debbie showed us a small group of morels right near their tent, so I we were all encouraged, in spite of the forecasted heat.

As soon as the rest arrived, the whole group went to a few of the other spots I had scouted, which yielded morels for everyone, for some (like myself) only a few, and for some (like Sandi) MANY!

Towards the end of the day, I finally found my first and only vein of morels, about a dozen large ones, so I was very happy. I don't think many of the rest found anything at that particular spot. I then took them to a few other, mostly non-productive, spots, and the day was essentially over.

The Saturday Night Feast was scrumptious as usual, with Cecelia bringing two morel and asparagus quiches, and I brought a spread that I had earlier made using smoked morels, fresh garlic, and chopped pecans. Morels were roasted over the fire, some stuffed with cheese, and the roasting included a Spring King that Hugh had found. Debbie made a great pasta dish. Later, even more food came.

I thought it all tasted pretty darn good. A nice way to end a foray.

Monday, May 19: Inspired by the large amounts of morels that some of the participants were finding at BAMS foray on Saturday, I decided to check a few of the spots I didn't get to take the group, and invited Loraine Berry to come along with me.

We both found a pleasant amount at each stop, both small and large, while struggling to concentrate on seeing the elusive morels, but were content just to have a nice walk on a pleasant morning, in spite of our modest find. 

Loraine had to return home, so I continued on my walk. Before she was able to get into her car, I spotted a large quantity of morels in the ground and yelled for her to come and see what I had discovered so close to the cars.

Between the two of us, we probably picked about 2 dozen. 

She then left for home, much happier I think, and off I went again.

In a few minutes I started finding larger ones, some in large groups. One group of the most largest morels was under a pile of sticks, almost impossible to see until you were directly on top of them.

When I got home, I weighted what I collected, and it totaled over 3 pounds. 

Not a bad haul for just a few hours. I kind of got lost too, and when I finally found the car, I had a CHP warning notice on my rear window, for apparently abandoning the vehicle.

Pictures are at images_2008/05-15-08

Monday, May 20: Yesterday I got a call from a friend telling me that he had found what he thought were Spring Kings (Boletus pinophilus), on his property at 4400 ft. I told him I would come up the next day to check. 

This morning I went up to his property and found several of them, in all sizes, but collected none outside his property. I did find a few morels outside his property though, along the side of an old mining road, and I also found some tiny boletus buttons.

After our lunch in Almanor today, we took a longer way home and checked a few more of the spots we hadn't checked for a while.

In almost all of them we found a few morels, and in one recently logged area, we also found a large Spring King.

In one case, we drove slowly along a dirt road and looked out of the side windows looking for boletes and morels. We actually found several morels that way.

By the time we got home, we had collected a little over a pound of morels.

It so far has been a pretty good year for morels.

Wednesday, May 26: Today, I took advantage of a lull in sprinkles and went out looking for King Boletes.
In short, I only found one King Bolete, but in the process, found several morels near where I had taken the BAMS foray group earlier.

None of them were very fresh, and some were too far gone to save, but I dried most all I picked, using 5 trays of my dehydrator.

These were the most I have found this spring, and I was even all by myself this time.

The interesting thing was that the firmest ones were usually found in the most densely packed roads, so after a while, I mainly concentrated on those. The ones I found in the softer roads, or away from the roads, seemed to be the softest. I think the denser roads helped to retain the moisture longer.

And almost everywhere, there were LOTS of the pink-lined Sarcosphaera crassa in full "bloom".

The Kings should be coming out soon at 4500 ft!

Happy family
Cecelia with a very happy family

Saturday, May 31: On Saturday, Cecelia and I took out a young family from Nevada, to some areas around 4400 to 4500 ft, to see if any morels were still out and to see if more Boletus pinophilus were out yet.

In some areas with the most sun, we found boletes. In a couple of those spots we found more than a few. Morels were very few and far between. Again the Pink Crowns (Sarcosphaera crassa/coronaria) were abundant. Some even had stark white interiors.

As we traveled along, I told them to check along the roadside. They actually found a few just close to the road right after we left for the last spot, where we found several more spring kings.

Our new friends left for home seemingly pretty happy.

So the season seems to be starting for the Spring Kings, at least at that elevation.

Tuesday, June 17: For the last few weeks, Cecelia and I have been returning back to some of our spots at around 4400 feet and 5100 ft, and each time coming home with a decent supply of the King Boletes. 

Yesterday, we found about 10 lbs of them near Lake Almanor, many just along the side of a road.
Farther up above Chester at around 5000 ft, we found about 10 lbs more, plus a few of our first Red-capped Butter Boletes, the B. regius, and a couple more Calvatia sculpta, the Sculptured Puffball. Most all of these also were conveniently located (for us "old folks") pretty close to the road. We even found a few morels.

The Butter Boletes we found were firm and bug-free.

We also observed lots of yellow coral mushrooms, some being very large, and most all beginning to dry out.

So the season continues, but with more bugs being present as it gets a later in the season. At least half of the Kings we found were good enough for the table.

Monday and Tuesday, June 23 and 24: On Monday, Loraine Berry and I went to a few of the 5000 ft spots where she and I have picked what we both call Boletus appendiculatus in the past, hoping that they might be out by now. We really did not expect to find much of anything, mainly because of the recent high temperatures.

At the first place we stopped, we noticed tall mounds of the Yellow Coral mushrooms, probably Ramaria rasilispora. Right in the middle a large grouping of them, Loraine spotted a very large Spring King. I was very surprised, as I thought the season had pretty much ended for them.

As we continued to walk around the area, she found a few more, as well as several Boletus regius, the red-capped butter boletes.

I think I only found one spring king.

After not finding more for a spell, I took her to another area close by where I sometimes find butter boletes.

Again she found several and I think I found one.

We continued to walk towards the same area where I had found several spring kings recently, and actually found several more of them in pretty good shape. I got more than a couple this time. We saw lots of light yellow amanitas and some fairly fresh Sarcosphaera crassa, the Pink Crown.

We dropped off our finds at the car, and I then drove her to an area where I had recently found both butter boletes and Calvatia sculpta, the sculptured puffball. 

We found a few puffballs plus a few B. Regius, and I picked a few Deer Mushrooms, Pluteus cervinus, to finally try a taste at home later.

By then we were both pretty tired of walking and felt we had a good enough supply for the day.

I commented that, of course, we might stop is we saw anything along the way.

I took a short-cut back to the main road, and very soon Loraine said STOP! She saw one along her side of the car, and as soon as I got out of the car, I found one on my side of the car.

We both found several on both sides of the car, so you can imagine our excitement.

After walking around the area, finding a few more here and there, we decided it was time to continue the journey home.

Soon, on the main road, Loraine said STOP again, as she had spotted a large Spring King along her side of the road. I slowed to a stop, as there was someone right behind me, so we had to walk a bit back to where she had seen the bolete. On the way, I found a few more myself.

Loraine Berry
The "Prize"

The bolete Loraine found was the biggest for the day, and showed NO visible signs of being chomped on by any creatures, neither worms nor deer.

So it was another fine day, in spite of all the smoke.

The following day, Cecelia and I decided to go back, and because of all the smoke in the air, that we would forage mainly from inside the car.

The first part of the trip was unproductive, but we did explore some new areas for us.

So I decided to go back to the same area where we were so successful the day before, but go a bit farther down the road.

In short, Cecelia and I did pretty good for the pinophilus. I only found one B. regius, but probably the biggest one I have ever seen, and it was fresh, firm, and entirely bug-free. 

I like to call what  we found that day, our "road kill mushrooms".

So the season continues at 4800 ft, as long as you can find that trace of moisture.

And the Deer Mushroom was VERY tasty, kind of reminiscent of the Man on Horseback mushroom. Another good one for us to collect for the table.

Saturday, June 28th:  Because we have pretty much stayed inside for many days because of all the smoke, we decided to go up to a higher elevation (around 4800 ft.) to see if it was clearer up there and perhaps see a few boletes.

In short, it was (for about a half hour) and we did.

We found LOTS of crisp butter boletes, including maybe one of what I have been calling the B. appendiculatus, and several B. pinophilus (Spring Kings). I am still very surprised to be finding those fresh this late in the year, at least at that elevation. Many of the pinophilus were too small to gather, so I will return to the same spot in a few days. We also brought back a few puffballs, both sculptas and subsculptas, for a friend in town who loves them.

And there are still some Sarcosphaera crassa around that are NOT completely dried up and lots of pretty dry light yellow amanitas.

Here are some of the pictures I took today: 

Friday, July 4: We went out today because it was a lot clearer than yesterday, and decided to go up to one of our butter bolete spots at around 5100ft.

It began to get less clear the higher we went, but was not too bad for today's short hunt.

It started our slow, neither of us seeing much but dried ramarias and a few over-the-hill B. regius, but as we got deeper we into the forest, we started seeing lots of mushbumps, each B. pinophilus, B. regius, or what we have been calling the spring, conifer-loving variety of the B. appendiculatus. Some were in large clusters. Dimitar, where are you?

Before we returned home, we had found more of each at different spots in the forest, and even brought back several large Calvatia sculpta.

Not a bad haul before lunch.

I am still amazed when I see fresh pinophilus this late in the year at this elevation. Or is it a new species?

So the season continues!

Saturday, July 12: Cecelia and I have been doing pretty good for the last few week, returning to a few of our favorite mushroom spots at 5100 ft when the smoke amount was low enough, have we been and finding lots of Spring King Boletes and Red-capped Butter Boletes.

Last Tuesday, I found my first of what I call the Boletus appendiculatus (actually, the B. abieticola), under red fir.

Saturday I went back to the same spot in spite of all the smoke and heat, and picked several more, plus what I think was my last Calvatia sculpta for the year. Some of the boletes were even worm-free enough for the table. Most I just dried.

For the smallest, most crispiest ones, I tried the thinly-sliced, cooked until crunchy, butter bolete recipe from a fellow BAMS member, but used the oven instead of the grill.

They tasted great even without salt, but I would bet adding some seasoning would have enhanced the flavor much.

Thursday, July 17: Smoke somewhat cleared up again today, so we decided to check our "Boletus appendiculatus" (correction, the B. abieticola) spots at 5100 ft. Cooler today too.

There were lots to be seen, and there was so many, I mainly just picked the largest ones, leaving the rest for Loraine Berry. Over half of the ones I brought back home were still crisp and worm-free, so I dried most of the rest. 

The pore tubes, when bruised, turned immediately blue, then almost black, and the pore tubes of the more mature ones softened rapidly on the short trip home.


Tuesday, July 5: Today we went up to the Yuba Pass area to see is there were any boletes left, but saw none. We did see a few young Ganoderma oregonense and one small Lentinus ponderosus, which proved to be delicious that evening.

Majestic Pickings, from Dimitar, as heard on the Mushroom Talk forum (top)

And here comes the point of believing accounts of majestic pickings. I learned my lesson last year, as I mentioned in one of the first articles here -- when I could not believe that anyone can collect anything in the devastating heat, and then we saw this old man, back in Bulgaria, pulling two sacks with edulis... Since then, I'm a changed man. I do not assume anything anymore, or at least try to be careful about giving a total + or - to even the craziest claims.

I remember Hugh Smith a couple of years ago, claiming majestic pickings in Sierra Nevada, while I could barely scramble for a few  species. Well, I saw what he's talking about. Not all places are created equal, after all. 

I've never seen a blackout -- all blacks -- but when Arora says that he has seen such, I do believe it.

Fact is -- I have never seen as much of anything, as I have seen pickers carry with my very own eyes -- this changed entirely the dimension of my thinking.

Occasionally, I've been in a situation to have to give sworn testimony about the truthfulness of something, because it was that unbelievable.

At the same time, we're culpable of exaggeration. Was it really 50lbs. of Boletes, or just 30lbs., well, who cares, both are majestic figures after a long hot Summer. I once swore that the size of some giant Slippery Jacks were 12 inches. Some disbelieved me, and probably rightfully so, because upon revisiting the area, I measured them again, well, they were damn big, but just 8 inches...

We all tend to overreach, in both -- conclusions or claims, not to mention generalizations. The scientists do it too, but their mistakes usually call for just another scientific paper, correcting the first one...

It's interesting from a psychological perspective how such stories/experiences affect us -- and psychology is important here -- that's the main factor that makes us walk another 2 hours more, or less, or not at all. I personally tend to extend my walk immediately after finding an interesting mushroom when I feel a sudden burst of energy.

Have fun, D.

Recipes for Gyromitra montana, from John-Marc Ventimiglia (top)

If you are ever game to try cooking with Gyromitra montana or Discina perlata, with the usual cautions of course, the following recipe might even make it a special treat.

Cecelia made the recipe shortly after we received it, and I want to say that it was wonderful, even though she forgot to add the truffle oil.

We served just the sauce, at a BAMS foray potluck and got several raves.

From John-Marc, regarding cooking with Gyromitra montana:

My absolute fav is cooked in garlic, shallots and butter, cooled then tossed in crème fraîche (or sour cream) and served in a toasted parmesan basket with a drizzle of white truffle oil. Of course, they go great with all sorts of game meats as well.

I also enjoy the discinas.

Well, this way you can hopefully feel better about eating them. I am still cautious as to geographic location and would think three times before eating them from anywhere but my stash.

And here is his recipe below, which could be used with many other mushrooms as well:

JMV's Gyromitra Parm Baskets (top)

If using Gyromitra montana, it is best to roast them in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes first

1/2 cup chopped Gyromitra montana or Black Morels
1 clove chopped garlic
1 tsp chopped shallots

Sauté ingredients on medium high heat in olive oil until very dry

Turn off flame and add 1/4 tsp cold butter and stir it in to let it melt.

Cool mixture to about 80-90 degrees and add in créme fraîche and salt to taste. A touch of cayenne is optional.

Serve in toasted Parmesan cheese baskets, make a small indentation in the mix and add a few drops of high quality white truffle oil.

Parm Baskets

There is an excellent recipe in the 'French Laundry' cookbook.

Grate parmesan (about 1/2 cup) using an inexpensive younger parm. A bit more moisture helps.

Place one inch round mounds on silpat or parchment paper and place in 300 degree oven for 10 -15 minutes until golden brown.

Use a miniature muffin tin and with a spatula, place the flat parm circle over a muffin holder, and press down with a wine cork to form a basket. The cheese hardens fast, so this should be a quick process.

Baskets can be made ahead of time and stored in the open.

Alternate recipe: http://www.recipezaar.com/100637

More from John-Marc:

As long as I am on a roll, I have taken quite a liking to Gomphus clavatus.

While quite mild in flavor, the texture is exceptional IMO.

I sauté 1 part raw diced artichoke hearts with 1 part gomphus, garlic of course, and a pinch of tarragon, and S&P or chipotle powder in place of the pepper, in 3 parts olive oil, 1 part butter.

I usually start the artichokes first and add the rest 3 - 5 minutes later.

The combination of artichoke and the gomphus is subtle

A Recipe for Morelly-Stuffed Morels, from James Edmonds (top)

I just made up a new recipe last night that worked out pretty good.


1 handful of crushed Crackers (I like garlic and herb). 
Make sure the bits are small enough to fit down the hollow insides of the mushroom. 
1 handful of finely minced Pecans
1 hand full of finely minced Green Onion
1 handful of 2 - 3 different cheeses grated fine
4 - 5 pinches of Tuscan Salt
A pinch of pepper, whatever kind you like.

This is most important! When preparing the Morels, cut the stems off and mince up fine, the stems only, and put them into the stuffing. Mix all this up.

Take a large bowl with a flat bottom and fill it with finely crushed crackers, I sometimes sift it through a  meshed metal strainer to get out the big chunks (unless you like chunks!).

Beat up 4 - 5 eggs in a separate bowl.

Carefully stuff the Morels, use a chop stick for ones with long or narrow openings. Pack them good but take care not to make them split open.

In a small iron skillet, heat up some butter with a dash of Olive oil. If you are more gourmet, use Duck fat.

Take the stuffed Morels and roll them around in the eggs until covered then drop them into the bowl with the crushed crackers and roll them around in that until thoroughly coated. Take these and place them in the skillet, turn them over often until golden brown on all sides.