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This year was quite different for us, partly because we weren't able to do much foraging, and partly because of the early heavy spring rains, which seemed to bring out some species a bit earlier than normal.
I led a few forays, but smaller ones, making a few new friends in the process.
Findings, April 28 - July 11 (top)
Tuesday, April 28th: The other day I received a report that about a dozen morels were found by a friend of ours who lives in Chester, so on the way back from my dentist appointment in Chester, I stopped at a section of a 3-year old logging operation, at about a 4500 feet elevation.
I soon spotted a little bunch of too-small-to-pick morels and spent about an hour more, scouting for larger ones.
There was still small, thin patches of snow around, but I found a few Sarcosphaera crassa, or Pink Crown, a good morel indicator. I found only two more morels, which I picked this time, and of course these were very near where I parked the car.
They were only about 1½ inches tall, but a good start anyway and a good enough reason to return soon with two more eyes with me.
Like my friend said. "They're here!"
With two additional eyes with me , I went up to an area a few minutes ago at the same altitude but closer to town, and found some Gyromitra montana (gigas) and Discina perlata.
Both are pretty good morel indicators.
Thursday, April 30th: This morning Cecelia and I went to the two USFS Ranger Stations to get our mushroom-picking permits for personal use. Lassen NF is still free, but the Plumas NF now charges $20 for 20 pounds.
When we got to the Lassen NF station, Loraine Berry and Pat George were there getting their permits also.
We decided to go out looking together, so I led them to a place close to where Loraine and I had found some morels last May.
In short, the pickings were slim but varied. We picked for the table: 12 morels, 7 Gyromitra montana, 2 Discina perlata, and one Agaricus albolutescens, one of my favorites. We saw lots of the Sarcoshaera crassa and some small orange cup fungus, the Caloscypha fulgens. I also saw some of pink-tinged hygrophorus, some soap- and some cucumber-smelling tricholoma, and in one group of Sarcosphaera, I found one morel and a few small, white-gilled mushrooms, all tightly connected and all under a the same patch of duff.
In another instance, while moving a small log to gain access to a morel, I found two more, one which was larger and misshaped (squashed) by the weight of the log.
So it was a nice day walking and talking with friends and occasionally bending over to pick a mushroom or two.
I think Loraine did the best.
Sunday, May 25th: This whole month has been pretty difficult for us to go out looking for mushrooms, but today I went to check some of my spring king bolete spots. At the first stop I actually picked one crispy one (and only one) but saw a few buttons close by. I also saw a few
Cortinarius magnivelatus, the beautiful white cortinarius with the persistent veil. At another spot I found a small amount of morels and decided by their appearance that it was probably getting close to the end of the morel season at that elevation (4500 ft.) At that same spot, I saw LOTS more Sarcosphaera crassa,
lots of yellow ramaria, probably the R. rasilspora, and several beautiful yellow Amanitas.
Friday, May 29th: Today I took a break from a too long software update and decided to check a few of my spring king (A.K.A. Boletus pinophilus) spots closer to home at about 4500 ft..
The first spot was void of boletes, but the second spot was fruitful and inspired me to continue the search.
I found several at most of my other spots, and I was surprised at how large some were already.
I filled my basket and wished I had been more selective after carrying the basket for what seemed to be a mile.
The largest bolete suffered a little from the varmints, but all those boletes went into the dryer.
The best went on the grill.
As soon as I can, I am going to my other spots before they all get too large.
So it might be a good time for you to check your own spring king spots at a similar elevation.
You might be pleasantly surprised.
Monday, June 1: Today, after a morning dentist appointment, we decided to check a higher area for mushrooms, this time at 4800 ft., mainly to see how our Calvatia sculpta spots were doing. On the way, we spotted a few spring kings along the side of the road. I picked those and continued toward the first spot. On the way we saw another, larger, king bolete and continued to the calvatia spot.
There seemed to be hundreds of them, none much larger than a softball. I picked a few of the largest ones, and then went to another
calvatia spot where I had left one the size of a tennis ball a few days ago.
We then went looking for the spring kings.
We found lots of them about every place we looked, plus a few morels in some places. As soon as we saw there were morels still around, and that they mostly were in the greener parts of a controlled burn, we started looking for those.
We saw lots of yellow amanitas, Sarcosphaera crassa, spring kings, fresh yellow coral mushrooms, and about a dozen large morels total. This time I was more selective with the boletes, leaving most of those with greening pore tubes, behind.
For the few hours that we were out, it WAS a fun day.
Thursday, June 4 to Tuesday, June 9: I have been pretty busy lately going out with Loraine Berry or taking others out on mini-forays. Each time we found a good amount of spring kings (Boletus pinophilus) and red-capped butter boletes (Boletus regius), both young and old.
On Thursday, Loraine and I went to an area at 4500 ft, but only found a few of each. We then went up to 4800 ft. I selected only small ones as a gift for Friday, so my take was modest, but Loraine was able to bring home about 18 pounds total.
On Friday, Cecelia and I spent the day at Drakesbad and gave the managers of the guest ranch my collection from the day before. They were pleased to get the Steinpilz, as they call them.
While walking around our cabin, we found both small and large spring kings, and the Ranch is at 7000 ft!
This was not expected as it is usually much later when they appear up there.
On the way home on Saturday, it was still raining slightly, but on the way home, Cecelia spotted from the car, what looked like a large, munched-on bolete. When we parked the car, the find turned out to be several large but firm spring kings and butter boletes, enough to fill my basket.
On Sunday, after we shared breakfast in town, I went out with Wayne Cameron and Bock Chan, and took them to most all my spots, because the first only yielded a few spring kings but several butter boletes.
We continued to 4800 ft, our last place for the long day, and including my share, they were able to take home, smiling, several shopping bags full of both spring kings and butter boletes plus one Sierra (sculptured) puffball, the Calvatia sculpta.
On Tuesday, I took out Rebecca W. and Ingrid to the one spot I did not go earlier, but only found a few spring kings. So I took them up to the same places at 4800 ft, that I had been with Loraine, Wayne, and Bock, and we did pretty well. They seemed pleased with their find for the day, which was about 13 pounds, trimmed. They even brought back three Calvatia sculpta. Earlier I had showed them a very large red-stemmed bitter bolete (Boletus rubripes), and had them take a taste.
Each day we continue to see lots of the pink crown, (Sarcosphaera crassa), yellow coral mushrooms, yellow amanitas, and the striking Cortinarius magnivelatus. No morels though. This is the first season that I have noticed a distinct stalk on the Sarcoshaera. I suspect that all the recent light rain allowed them to continue to mature.
It looks like the season is on from 4500 - 7000 ft.
Sunday, June 14th: Today may be the last time we can get out for a long while, so we went up to a few of our spots at 4800 ft. I wanted to collect a few of the newly renamed Boletus rex-veris (A.K.A. Boletus pinophilus or spring kings) and Boletus regius (red-capped butter boletes), to do a side by side taste comparison. Loraine B. said she did that recently and decided she preferred the flavor of the regius, as it seemed to taste more buttery, even when cooked with olive oil.
We found a few of each, and while walking, met a mushroomer from the Bay Area who showed me his finds, which included what looked like a Boletus zelleri (or chrysenturon?). This is the first time I have seen them this early in the year. He gave it to me to take home.
He didn't look like he was doing as good as we were.
It didn't take us very long to obtain all of what we desired, but it appeared that there were lots of regius buttons and no rex-veris buttons, so I think the season for the spring kings will soon be over at that elevation.
The person from the Bay Area said he found 3 morels.
As soon as we got home, I picked a rex-veris and a regius that were about the same size and texture, and cooked them in separate pans, using olive oil with a dash of salt.
I did notice a difference in taste. The regius seemed to have a sweet taste, kind of buttery I guess, where the rex-veris was bland by comparison. Both had the same texture, but the rex-veris gave off much more water when it was being cooked.
They all will go in a mushroom soup tonight, but I think I will be collecting (and drying) more of the regius from now on.
Saturday, July 11: I finally was able to get out today for a quick trip north of Greenville, to check out some butter bolete spots at 4800 ft.
The first spot was near a spring, and there were several Boletus regius and the Boletus abieticola, which we have been calling the B. appendiculatus. They seemed to key out as the appendiculatus, but tend to grow under red fir and come out in mid-July.
I left the Boletus regius. Some were pretty firm and relatively worm-free, but not enough. Lots of both were partially consumed by deer.
I only took a few of the B. abieticola, as there was not that many, and this particular spot is also pretty popular with Loraine Berry.
I also found what looks like the sheep polypore, Albatrellus ovinus, and I plan to taste it later.
At the second spot, I found a few more B. abieticola, along with several large Calvatia sculpta. Most were too far gone for the table, but there were still a few firm ones left.
The puffballs I that did pick, I gave to some friends who are very fond of them.
At a third spot, I only saw some very large Boletus rubripes that had the tops completely cleaned off by some small creature's nibbles. From the distance, they looked like large sculpted puffballs.
Because I also saw a few young B. abieticola, I think the season has not ended for them at those spots.
A recipe for French Onion, Cep, Shallot, Garlic Soup, from Patrick Hamilton (top)
Another Use for Bolete Pore Tubes, from Georgii and Jammii Layman, Kalkaska, Michigan (top)
Featured Mushroom, the Boletus Rex-veris (top)
This is the mushroom that until recently has been called the Boletus pinophilus. Recent studies have found that it is NOT the pinophilus, but a species unique to our area, and has been give the new name of Boletus rex-veris, meaning Spring King Bolete.
It has always been one of our favorites: easy to spot in the spring, fun to find, and very good tasting.
For a direct link to this mushroom on the Mykoweb site, complete with pictures, go to: