Twenty-third Issue, Fall season, 2008
Published about twice a year from Greenville, California
by Herman Brown


Click on any picture to see a larger image


This fall was probably one of the worse for collecting mushrooms up this, is the forest at least, and I think it was because of a combination of  dry weather and very cold days. It also started late, but was expended by the lack of snow.

However, I did find many lawn mushrooms in decent numbers, and some that I have not seen before.

 I also added some of Debbie Viess's and Dimitar Bojanchev's wonderful mushroom photographs taken recently on their individual trips to a few States back East.

Dimitar's are linked directly to his own site and resized on the screen to fit my format, so they will take a bit longer to download, and the links to the larger images are to MUCH larger pictures: east-treats-3.htm

Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I did.

And late in the season, I added a page with some nice mushroom photographs from Taro Narahishi, taro-photos.htm, and hopefully will be adding more.

Findings, August 16 -  December 9 (top)

Tuesday, August 19: It finally cooled down into the mid 70's on Tuesday, so we decided to check a few of our chanterelle spots close to home at around 4500 ft, to see if any managed to come up in spite of all the heat and lack of rain.

We actually found 5 small ones, under almost imperceptible bumps in the packed dirt. I am sure if we looked harder that we might have found more, but we will wait a week or so in hopes of rain. I doubt if they will grow much in the meantime unless we do get some, as the ones we picked were all pretty firm from the lack of moisture.

On the other hand, we may go back up in just a few days (if it is still cool enough), to look harder for more before they get completely desiccated.

Like I seem to always say at the beginning of a season, "It's a start!"

Sunday, November 2: It stopped raining up here for a few minutes and the sun came out, so I decided to go out and check our local park here in Greenville.

Because I didn't see much at first, I picked a few Suillus brevipes and even less Agaricus campestris, the common Meadow Mushroom.

As I wandered around, I came upon large clusters of mushrooms that I recognized as the Fried Chicken Mushroom, or Lyophyllum decastes.

I cooked some immediately when I got home and enjoyed both the flavor and texture.

Some images are at the following links, best viewed in full screen mode: 

/images_2008/11-02-08/IMG_1397-l.JPG (small group with one removed from the ground)
(a large cluster)
(even more clusters)
(cooking some)

Monday, November 17: I have NOT seen any mushrooms at all in the forest near town YET (3600ft.). 

However, I went back to our local park to pick more Fried Chicken Mushrooms for tonight's dinner, and in the process I also came across one cluster of the smaller dark-capped Lyophyllum loricatum, which I feel have a better texture and taste than the decastes.

They were all delicious cooked with chicken and garlic tonight, served over toasted slices of sour dough bread!

Burp! (Please excuse me)

Tuesday, November 18: Late this afternoon, on the way back from a short shopping trip, we decided to check out a few of our spots near Lake Almanor.

The first was an Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) spot just along side of a trail. There we found the same three downed trees spotted with Oyster Mushrooms in clusters, probably all Doug Fir trees. Most of the mushrooms were on only one of them, but we were able to bring home about 3 pounds. The bag sure felt heavier than that by the time I got back to the car. Most were still a bit young. 

The second "spot" was one of our Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus) areas, which is along the side a road a bit farther north.

There we did not see the multitude we had expected, finding only two clumps, but the total take was eight, ranging in heights from 3" to 8", few yet starting to turn black.

Not a bad haul of edible mushrooms for the day, enough for several meals.

In a week, there should be lots more of both.

We just might return there too.

We plan to try making some oyster mushroom fritters using the largest ones.

Boletus aereus
Boetus aereus

Sunday November 23: After lunch and it was finally sunny today, I went back to a few of my "spots" near Lake Almanor to see if anything had appeared since the last trip. 

On the way there, I stopped to check one of my usually very productive King Bolete (Boletus edulis) spots, and after walking around for a half hour, on the way back to the car I spotted a huge mound. Under the mound was a large Queen Bolete (now named a Boletus regineus)  in the same area where I had found two last year, and those were late in the season also. This one was very firm, still having a white underside.

Then I drove slowly along until I spotted a clump of Shaggy Manes and picked about half a basket full.

I checked my Oyster Mushroom spot again, but what had appeared since the last time was still a bit too young, so I will probably check again this next weekend. Maybe there are more boletes out there somewhere?

Monday, November 24: I went to the local park in Greenville again today to see if any new Lyophyllum had appeared since my last visit, but no such luck. What was still there was beginning to show the signs of the very cold nights, compounded with aging, but still pickable. I left those.

On the way out of the park, I noticed what looked like some white mushrooms or crumpled paper cups. As I got out of the car, I was pleased to see the cups turn into several groups of agaricus in the packed earth next to the second ball field. There were many still under the dirt. Most were pretty filthy.

Agaricus bitorquis
In the pan

By the growth pattern and habitat, I immediately recognized these as a species I had rarely found up here, and that is the Agaricus bitorquis, one of my favorites because of it is much more firm and meatier than the A. campestris. Also, it tastes much better to me, with a stronger flavor.

I picked all I could see that were above ground, some already having been pulled out and placed on a bench for me.

When I got home they weighed in at 1 1/4 lb.

I first tested one with KOH for a non-reaction, then I carefully rinsed, sliced, and cooked them very slowly in butter. They are firm enough to survive a quick rinse, but still gave off a lot of water as a result of my rinsing them.

Friday, November 28: Today while walking to town, we saw a bunch of meadow mushrooms (Agaricus campestris) in a lawn close to the road, so I started picking them for my tee-shirt basket.

When we saw a few even closer to the road that were as big as the portabellos in the store, I decided to come back with my basket. I have NEVER seen any this big before.

To the right is a picture of what I brought back and am having for dinner tonight.

They were all fairly close together and fit all the ID characteristics. Hope I don't get sick because I missed something!

Follow-up: I went back to the spot where I had picked the large ones, and it was farther away than I remembered. I think now that they were the larger species, the Horse Mushroom, Agaricus arvensis.

Update, November 25, 2009: After finding them at the same spots again in 2009, but as younger specimens, I decided they were actually more of the short-stemmed, packed-earth loving Agaricus bitorquis.

Tuesday, December 9: I had thought my last report would be my last of the season, until today I decided to recheck my queen bolete spot close to town.

I checked around the area very carefully but unsuccessfully, and was about back to the car when I decided to look on the other side of the tree where I had found the last one.

There I saw a big hole, lined on one side with a mostly consumed queen. I picked out what I could, as it was still fresh and worm-free, thinking that would be it for the day.

Encouraged by the find, I decided to check a different spot where I had found some years ago. In many places I saw bumps with purple corts, most being frozen, until again I got almost to the car and saw a larger mush-bump, this time yielding a nice  queen. As I walked around the tree, a large ponderosa pine, I found two more, all still with light-colored pores.

When I got home, I found more fresh mushrooms in the mail box, sent to us by our great friend Hugh Smith.

Nice day for foraging after all.

Follow up: The total cleaned weight for the 3 mushrooms was a little over 5 pounds. But when I tried to prepare them for the pan, the largest one was frozen almost solid, but I was still able to cut (or rather "saw") it into slices and fry it, using more oil than for the rest. This time I added peanut oil for a nice taste, and they turned our fine. 

This means the only ones that might be good enough to collect up here, would be in thick enough duff to prevent freezing, next to a large ponderosa, like most of those were today.

Killing larvae by drying, and Lobster mushrooms (top)

From Brent Tindall:


 I have two mushroom questions for the experts here  that have been floating in my mind lately: 

  1. When drying mushrooms that might have worms that you don't notice. After drying the fungi competently could the worms still reanimate  themselves or still survive in the dry state? Or would they just dry out  as well and not be a problem that is if I dried them properly. Of course  I wouldn't usually dry worm or insect laden fungi but stuff I might not notice. Just wondering.
  2. About Lobster Mushroom parasitizing host Fungi. Usually it paratisizes safe Lactarius and Russulas? Is that always the case? Does a person have  to really know the host species of the Lobster Mushroom if it could be identified? And how would you go about doing it? Microscope?

Just been thinking about that lately and finally had time to write it  down. 


 Altan/Brent Tindall

From Debbie Viess  

Good questions, Brent.

Most maggots "bail" when the heaters get turned on (leaving crunchy debris at the bottom of your drier);  those that don't certainly don't survive the process. Since all they have fed on is the same edible mushroom that you plan on eating yourself, it wouldn't be too awful if a few slipped by your quality control...just  a little more protein for ya. When in doubt, serve  with rice!

Hypomyces species tend to specialize in a particular  genus, in other words, the orange lactiflorum "eats"  only russulas and lactarius, esp. large, white sp. like R brevifolia. If it has covered a peppery,  unpalatable sp., you would soon determine that by  taste. Lactiflorum doesn't attack the genus amanita, for instance, so you can relax on that count. The amantas do have their own hypomyces specialist, the  pinkish H. hyalinus.

In other words, if you have a typical orange lobster mushroom, underneath that hypomyces coating is a russula or a lactarius, and you can feel pretty  confidant that it isn't harmful just by tasting it. I  suppose that you should check for blackening species,  too, but that would be apparent once you sliced it,  and frankly I have never heard of such a host. But it  is a perfectly reasonable question to ask; curious and  questioning mushroom hunters (and eaters) live longer! 


From Michael Beug

The larvae themselves just add protein to the meal - besides when you slice and dry the mushrooms, the larvae just fall out. The theoretical concern about buggy mushrooms is bacterial contamination. However last week I was foraging with a chef from an outstanding restaurant in New Mexico and the boletes he was collecting were thoroughly riddled! Yet he would dry them and later add them to very expensive dishes at his restaurant. 

In the Rocky Mountains and to the west I have only seen Hypomyces lactiflorum on Russula brevipes (guessing from the stature and texture). In the NAMA data base, there are zero reports of poisonings from the Lobster compared to a number of poisonings by Chanterelles and hundreds of poisonings by Morels.

From George Riner:

Question 1:

Your question is curiously phrased, perhaps you ask, "would they just dry out .... and not be a problem..." I wonder what sort of "problem" goes away when larvae are dried that was (perhaps) a problem before they were dried? I assumed that if one didn't want to eat larvae, that drying them didn't change that. Although I think detecting larva tunnels in dried mushrooms can be harder than in fresh. The brief answer is, I think, that drying kills larvae - thorough drying, that is. OTOH, isn't the "problem" with eating larvae mostly conceptual? Generally, as the ratio of larvae to mushroom increases, more and more people will push the mushroom away. But I don't think I've met the mycophagist who refuses to eat a mushroom with just 1 little larva tunnel in it! ("it's just wafer thin") 

Question 2:  

At the many NEMF's and NAMA's I've been to there is both the claim that you shouldn't eat lobster mushrooms unless you've positively ID'd the host mushroom. This is usually followed immediately by the claim that no one has gotten sick eating a lobster (a strong claim, indeed!) and then a request for a show of hands of people who've eaten lobster without identifying the host - and many hands go up. Then asked of those people, how many got sick - and all hands are lowered. One is left to draw one's own conclusions....  

From William McGuire

I'm certainly an expert on this but my experiences while sober is that drying the mushrooms usually kills any live infestation, however I'm not so certain that eggs of some insects can't survive the usual drying temperatures, most dryer manuals say 135 deg. is max for drying, they don't consider whether the mushrooms were domestic or wild. IMHO, that temperature is insufficient to kill all eggs or larvae, my usual process is to thoroughly dry the mushrooms then nuke them for a few seconds in the microwave, that kills anything still alive, since I began that process I haven't had any insect invasions of my stash, a point to remember is that there is more than one type of insect that makes mushrooms their home.

From Jason Hollinger

 Microwaves only work on large things (comparable at least  to the wavelength used, several cm). An amusing test anyone can do that will  surprise most of you (like it did me): stick a  (microwave-safe) bowl in the microwave with a few drops of water in it, and nuke  it for as  long as you like -- the water will never even get warm to  the touch.  (Another fun test: put a glass of tap water in next to a  glass of deionized/distilled water and try again. No thermometer  necessary!)


From Darvin DeShazer:

Yes - the wavelength is 12.6 cm, so it forms nodes (the hot spots)  every 6.3 cm apart. 


SOMA Science Advisor
  - 18,000 photos & going up daily

From Herman Brown:

Most microwave ovens now have a rotating glass tray for placing the food to be cooked, and they say the heat is therefore distributed more evenly over the food. I would expect if I put my chocolate bar on edge of the rotating tray, I might not see the heat spots, which I suspect are because of a standing waves. Our first microwave had a rotating device above the cooking area, perhaps for the same reason. Before that, one was told to physically rotate the object a few degrees every few minutes, to distribute the cooking process.

Many improvement have been since than, and now my small cold cup of coffee is always warm within 1 1/2 minutes.

So I would expect that using the microwave would kill all remaining live larvae, if the the dried mushrooms are placed on a rotating plate, off to the side so they move more in the microwaves.

Latin anyone? (top)

There always seems to be some discussion eventually about the correct way to pronounce the scientific names of all the mushrooms. The following is from a BAMS group posting by Ryane Snow, December 13, 2008::

You should credit the Stearn book published in 1966.

Best regards,

According to William T. Stearn in Botanical Latin, 1966, "Botanical Latin is essentially a written language, but the scientific names of plants often occur in speech. How they are pronounced really matters little provided they sound pleasant and are understood by all concerned. This is most likely to be attained by pronouncing them in accordance with the rules of classical Latin pronunciation. There are, however, several systems, since people tend to pronounce Latin words by analogy with words of their own language.....In English-speaking countries there exist two main systems, the traditional English pronunciation used by gardeners and botanists and the 'reformed' or 'restored' academic pronunciation adopted by classical scholars as presenting 'a reasonable close approximation to the actual sounds of the language as spoken by educated Romans'. The academic pronunciation comes closer to the usual Latin pronunciation of Continental people than does the conventional English pronunciation".

Basic rules:

  1.  The pronunciation of a word is determined by the sounds of the individual letters, the length (quantity) of the vowels and the place of stress (accent).
  2.  Words containing more than one vowel or diphthong (two vowels pronounced as one, e.g. ae, ei) are divided into syllables. In words of two syllables the stress is placed on the first syllable.
  3.  In Latin every vowel is pronounced. The same applies to the Latinized Greek ending -o-i-des.
  4.  In classical Latin words of several syllables the stress falls on the syllable next to the last one when this syllable is long (i.e. when it ends in a long vowel or diphthong, e.g. for-mo'-sus, or when two consonants separate the last two vowels, e.g. cru-en'-tus) but falls on the last syllable but two when the last but one is short, e.g. flo'-ri-dus, la-ti-fo'-li-us, sil-va'-ti-cus. Diphthongs are treated as long vowels. When, however, two vowels come together in a Latin word without forming a diphthong, the first is short, e.g. car'-ne-us; in a word of Greek origin, this does not apply, hence gi-gan-te'-us.

I hope this helpful and doesn't confuse the matter to a greater degree.

Featured Mushroom, the Lyophyllum decastes (top)

Because this was one of the few years that I found them, I decided to make it the featured mushroom.

I have often enjoyed the taste and texture f these, as well as the darker version, the L. loricatum, as have most of those who sampled some of mine

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