Thirtieth Issue, May - December, 2012
Published about twice a year from Greenville, California
by Herman Brown

"Compulsion: a common affliction of mushroomers"
(Maggie Rogers, June 27, 2012)


Click on any picture to see a larger image

Comment The mushroom season this year began much earlier than most, and at first it seemed to be much shorter, with less mushrooms to be found.

The lack of rain after June, combined with the low amount of snow during the earlier part of the year, resulted in a pretty poor crop of fungi.

Findings, May 5 - December 2 (top)

Saturday, May 5: 

The day after we returned from a short visit with family down south, I went out by myself to check some or my “old faithful” morel spots at about 4500 ft.

I saw no fungi except for a small tan mushroom in a pile of ashes.

The next day; a friend showed me a 1/4-pound morel she found in her yard, one of several large ones.

So today, I returned to some of the same spots, but this time with Cecelia. If there are morels to be found, she will find them.

In short, we did very good considering how early in the season it is.

We collected almost 2 pounds of morels, one Agaricus albolutecens (one of our favorites), saw several white-gilled mushrooms, a few yellow Ramaria, and a pair of Sarcosphaera coronaria, or Pink Crowns, which are pretty reliable morel indicators.

We were very happy when we got home.

The season has begun!

Sunday, May 6: 

We went out with some young friends today and did pretty well up until lunch time. 

After we all parted, we checked another set of rings. but only found a few more. 

When we got back to the car, our friends had already left and I discovered I had dropped my keys somewhere out in the forest.

We walked about a mile to a café, picking a few morels along the way, and we had to have a tow truck take us and the car home.

We did have a nice lunch however.

This follows us having to have a new windshield installed while on a  trip down south. It has been an eventful year so far!

Finding the morels made it all worth while.

Friday, May 15: 

I went back up to 4500 ft. today and brought back 4 morels and 2 albolutecens. The morels were mostly crispy, and the albolutecens were smaller than the last batch.

Higher up is probably the next spot to check.

It was 82 F at around 1 pm.

Wednesday, May 16: 

For the last few weeks, we have found a few morels every day, not more than a few pounds but enough for the table.

The surprising part is that they seemed to be 2 weeks early.

Then it got very warm and the numbers dwindled considerably. 

Yesterday I checked a few spots and only found a few, but did find two of the Agaricus albolutecens, nicknamed the “Mountain Portobello”.

Today, I checked a spot where I had not checked this year, at 4500 ft., but where we rarely find any, and I found none. And it was over 80 degrees in the shade.

So I decided to recheck a few of my “old faithful” spots.

This time I did much better than expected, and most of what I found were very fresh.

The last two spots were areas with very old fire rings, and I found several in or very near the rings.

Almost all were found in the shade.

Today’s total was 23 morels plus 2 “Mountain Portobellos”.

In a few places I found a few of one of the morel indicators, the Pink Crown or Sarcosphaera coronaria, and very near, a few morels.

What does this mean? 

Maybe the normal season has really started at that elevation, but I will need to concentrate on the areas with the most shade during the hottest part of the day.

Saturday, May 19: 

Yesterday late afternoon, Cecelia and I decided to take some short walks to recheck a few of our more accessible black morel spots at 4500 ft.

It had been pretty warm, but we needed to get away from working around the yard. 

The first three spots appeared totally void of any mushrooms, but we kept looking anyway.

It the fourth spot, I finally I spotted one morel, and it seemed fairly fresh, so we continued searching around the area, looking at the ground more thoroughly.

This time we found a few more near some very old fire rings, all amazingly fresh.
Again, Cecelia spotted most of them.

We also noticed a few of one of the morel indicators, the Sarcosphaera coronaria.

Nor far down the road from this spot, we found a few more morels, again fairly fresh.

By this time we both were pretty tired and ready to go home, but on the way back to the car, we found one morel along the side of the road. 

When we stopped to check the area more carefully, I found a small mound along the same side of the road.

Under the mound was a very small but unmistakable spring king bolete, now named the Boletus rex-veris.
We checked one more spot briefly, but saw nothing.

We had a nice meal that evening, using all the morels.

Now we get to check our spring bolete spots, which are very near the morels spots.

Nice weather and exercise too.

Sunday, May 21: 

Late on Sunday, Cecelia and I decided to take another chance at finding a few morels at 4500 ft.

We found some.

We only checked three spots, all very close to each other, having to park the car only twice.

At the first spot we did better than expected, at the second, not as well as expected, and at the third, not very well at all. 

The secret seemed to be finding a spot where the ground was still a bit moist a few inches below the surface. We mostly aimed for old fire rings in full shade. 

The total take for Sunday was less than a dozen morels, but at the first spot, we found three king boletes. One was about 6” in diameter, and the other two were about half that size and partially consumed by animals.

At the best spots, we saw the most Sarcosphaera coronaria, the Pink Crown, one of our morel indicators.

Because we did not have to travel far, we were very pleased with the take.

And it was another beautiful day in the mountains.   

Saturday May 26:

We had had a bit of rain recently, so on Saturday, we decided to recheck a place closer to home at 4400 ft. and found several medium-sized spring king boletes.

On our way back to the road, we actually found 6 morels, way past their prime, and we were surprised because we had never found them in any quantity in that area.

One we found in the full shade was quite large and in pretty good shape.

I picked them all for the dehydrator.

Weird-looking Sarcosphaera

On the way out of the area, we ran into a friend who was also out hunting for mushrooms, and I showed him the larger morel.

He said he had just noticed the cut stump and figured I had been there, and said he saw two more in the same area.

I hope this portends something for the future!

Sunday, May 27:

On Sunday, we went to another spot at the same elevation, which is around 4400 ft., checked the easiest to access spots and did pretty good.

The best was a spot where we had found one tiny spring king maybe only a few days ago, and in the same sport, Cecelia found a very large king bolete.

We saw no morels, but did find an unusual all-white Sarcosphaera, which is usually a shade of pink or purple. It also had a very unusual interior.

At one spot, we picked several of the red-capped butter boletes, the Boletus regius.

Tuesday, May 29: 

I took Loraine Berry and Pat George to the same exact spots today as Cecelia and I visited on Sunday, and it wasn't until we got to the last spot that we did very good. Between the three of us, we almost filled two baskets with spring king boletes.

And we actually found a few morels along the way.

Wednesday, May 30:  

Went up to 4400 ft by myself and only found a few Boletus rex-veris.

Thursday, May 31:

I went out with Cecelia today and found two morels at 4500 ft. on our way  up to a 4800 ft, spot . 

There we found lots of dry earth and only one spring king bolete. 

We checked few of our Calvatia Sculpta spots, and the puffballs, which normally come out in mid-July, were already puffed, but I did pick one small fresh one for a friend. 

Below is a link to a picture taken last year at one of the spots on July 25, (picture with permission by David Arora): calvatia

No butter boletes seen for a few days.

Boletus regius and B. rex-veris

Cortinarius magnivelatus (2)

Saturday, June 2:  

Today we met up with Chris Albion and his family at 4500 feet, as they were walking along a dirt road picking boletes.

We had seen a few farther down the same road, so after inspecting their impressive stash, we drove to another area close by and did pretty good ourselves.  

We found mostly Boletus regius and a few Boletus rex-veris. 

I also collected a few more Cortinarius magnivalatus for Dr. Ammarati's Cortinarius study.

Sunday - Tuesday, June 3 - June 5: 

For the next few days, we returned to most of our spots, picking few Boletus rex-veris and both butter boletes. 

On Tuesday, we received  a small amount of rain and hail

Thursday, June 7:  

On Thursday, Cecelia and I rechecked a few of our 4500 ft. spots.

The first few were productive, but not very. Mostly what we found along the way were a few spring king boletes.

The last spot, usually pretty good for butter boletes, was.

We picked several of them, including both B. regius and the B. abieticola, which favor red fir.

We also saw hundreds of fresh Sarcosphaera coronaria blooms (if they can be called that), and a light pinkish-purple Ramaria, pictures below, but we did not see any morels.

We also saw several yellow Ramaria,

The day before, on Wednesday, we went to Yuba Pass to visit with the Spring Fungi class, and to drop off the all-white Sarcosphaera with the unusual interior that I had found at 4500 ft.

On the way to the class, we picked a few spring kings.

Sarcosphaera coronaria

Ramaria sp

In the lab, we got to visit with Fred Stevens, Mike Wood, instructor Dennis Desjardin, meet Asco expert Bryan Perry, spend some time with Matt Kierle, and finally meet Ron Pastorino, from whom I had seen postings on the mushroom forums, for several years.

Matt and I had taken the same class together in 1999, just before he decided to go back to school and study mycology: sierra_fungi

The general opinion in the lab was that my Sarcosphaera was probably an aborted one and not that unusual.

We decided it was getting late, and the chance that there were many spring kings left was pretty slim by now, so we left for home.

It was a very nice way to spend a day.

Sunday, June 10: On Sunday we decided to go up a little higher in elevation and see what was up there.

At around 5100 ft., it was a bit cooler and the mosquitoes were still not out in numbers yet.

Near a creek we found a few spring kings and were surprised to find a few Agaricus albolutecens.

At an old burn site close by, we found more kings and a few butter boletes, the delicious Boletus regius. The Boletus abieticola we also found were still pretty small, but we picked a few of those anyway.

At a Calvatia sculpta spot near the burn site, we only saw a few small puffballs, but those seemed like they were not very fresh.

We saw no morels on Sunday, but nearly filled our basket with boletes.

All went into the drier.

We also enjoyed seeing the wildflowers from the bleeding hearts, some wild strawberry flowers and those from the fuchsia-flowered gooseberries.

Thursday, June 21: 

It has been a while since we went out into the forest, partly because of the higher temperatures lately, so with the slightly cooler weather today, we decided to recheck a few of our spots at 5100 ft.

The weather was perfect!

The first stop was near to a running stream, among a patch of large conifers in a very shady spot.

As soon as we entered the shade, Cecelia spotted one spring king along the side of a road.

As we browsed around the area, we found a few more, from small to large, with most in pretty good shape except for a few missing sections removed by the local fauna.

At the next spot, we saw nothing much except for a few Calbovista subsculpta puffballs and a few Amanita buttons close to some larger, mostly dried ones. The larger ones looked like they could have been A. gemmata.

In next spot we found that some of the Calvatia sculpta puffballs we had noticed before, had continued top grow.

At the last spot, usually a good butter bolete spot, we did fairly well, finding both Boletus regius and some young B. abieticola with a greenish-tan cap. I think the redder cap comes after they are more above ground.

There we saw lots of evidence of deer getting what they could before we did. Lots of fresh large holes, most with scattered bits of the yellow butter boletes.

While cleaning them at home, I found more worm infestation than I has expected, but was still able to fill a few trays in our new dehydrator, plus one large frying pan.

It will be worth a return trip soon to the area, as there are several other fairly shady spots still left to check.

B. regius "mound"

B. regius

B. abieticola

On the right are pictures comparing a B. regius and a B. abieticola. Both were completely covered when we found them.

The first picture is a shot of the regius before it was uncovered.

Sunday and Tuesday, June 24 and 26: 

On Sunday, Cecelia and I returned to our 5100 ft. spot and again did pretty well.

In the cool shady spot, we found several Spring Kings, from medium-sized to small buttons.

We did find a few small Boletus abieticola, a nice and firm butter bolete, one of our favorites for the table.

Good sign that the season is continuing at that elevation.

We then went to a few spots near a burn area and found lots of butter boletes, both the B. regius and B. abieticola.

Most of the abieticola were 3-inches in diameter and VERY firm.

Most of the regius were larger but much softer.

Again we noticed LOTS of Amanita buttons, probably the A. gemmata.

We also saw one long-stemmed, all-white mushroom growing out of a rotten stump, that appeared to be a Pluteus of some kind.

In one of the spots where we usually see lots of Calvatia sculpta but did not see but a few old ones on the last visit, we discovered that the patch had drifted into a patch of young fir.

There, we picked a pair of medium-sized ones for our local Calvatia enthusiast. A few that we saw were about 10-inches in diameter but ready to puff.

On Tuesday, we decided to check an elevation much higher, so we traveled up to 7000 ft.

We had heard a tip from Chris Albion that we might find some morels up that way, and we actually did find 4 not very fresh ones.

We also found several spring kings of all sizes, but almost half were too wormy for even the drier.

We picked two more puffballs, this time the Calbovista subsculpta, for our Calvatia enthusiast.

They were doing road work along the way, causing a 1/2-hour delay as we came up the mountain, so we took a different but pleasant route back home.

Another beautiful day in the mountains.

It’s nice to be retired and still be able to walk in the woods.

Sunday, June 30:  

The season continues at 5100 ft.

On Saturday, we met with Loraine Berry and checked a few spots together.

We had already checked a few spots just before she joined us, finding a few young spring kings and some large and medium-sized Boletus abieticola butter boletes, even picking a few Calvatia Sculpta, which had continued to grow at another spot.

Together we went to the last spots, finding a few Boletus abieticola each, of all sizes.

The numbers are much less than previous years, but well still worth the walking.

Anyway, who needs a reason to walk in the forest on such a beautiful summer day?

A nice perfectly-sized B. abieticola, 
just emerging and very clean

Some larger, nibbled-upon B. abieticola

The “field” of Calvatia sculpta
A wild strawberry

Wednesday, July 4th:  

On Wednesday, I went up to 5100 ft. again, this time with a neighbor.

On the way, we had to take a brief detour for a 4th of July parade, so I took him to a place close by at approximately 4500 ft.

There we walked along a creek and took pictures of the many beautiful wild flowers we saw along the way. 

Soon we were able to continue to our destination at 5100 ft.

In a shady spot near a creek, we found only a few Boletus abieticola butter boletes, a few Amanitas, some tan-colored Ramaria, a few of what looked like Rhizopogon tubers, and surprisingly, two of those delicious, amber-staining, Agaricus albolutecens.

One of the albolutecens was not suitable for picking, but one was whole and fresh enough for my friend to take back home with him for a new taste treat. 

A very pleasant surprise.

I took him to another spot so he could see the “field” of Calvatia sculpta. Most were more than soft, but a few were still firm. 

He took some pictures.

At the last and final two spots, he found one medium-sized Boletus regius and several B. abieticola, some in full sun, and this time I took him farther into the forest than Cecelia and I usually go.

I suspect there are some still to be found throughout the entire area, but with the lack of moisture, they are pretty hard to see, just a bulge or crack in the earth.

Friday, July 20:  

Went back up to 5100 ft. today, and actually found one B. abieticola.

It was not very worm-free, but a surprise  none-the-less.

We did see some beautiful wild flowers, plus some fruiting plants.

One was a currant, and the other a tiny wild strawberry.

Thursday, July 26

We had not been out much lately because of the hot, dry weather, so today we went up towards Yuba Pass for lunch in Bassets and to wander in the forest.

Much cooler up there.

Near the top of the pass, we actually found a few pink-capped butter boletes, right along side of some dried out ones.

They were most likely B. abieticola.

On the way back home, we decided to check out Packer Lake because we had never seen it, and I had heard reports in the past about someone finding boletes there.

It was a paved road, and for years I had thought it was mostly a dirt road and that you had to pack in to get to the lake.

We didn’t see any mushrooms there, but did drive to the back side of the lake and discovered the old Packer Lake Lodge.

Nice afternoon, nice discoveries.

The next few months were pretty mushroom-less because of the extreme dry weather. However, in late November, we finally started getting some good soaking rain.

Monday, October 1: 

I decided to at least check one more time, a few of my white chanterelle spots. 

It took lots of walking, but I found about a dozen, most of them being pretty dry.  I suspect the season is over for that species

Sunday, December 2:  

Today during a break from the steady rain, I went to our local park to see if some December mushrooms had come out yet. Some did.

Right out of the car, I spotted a soggy up-turned Blewit, the blue Clitocybe Nuda, which my first for the park. Close by I found several more and gathered a few.

Just a few steps beyond that, I found a small patch of Fried Chicken mushrooms, the Lyophyllum decastes. I gathered the hole patch for the table. The next find was the largest Agaricus bitorquis I have found so far, and then several of the orange-latexed Lactarius deliciosus.

As I wandered along, I found some Hygrophorus glutinosus, some red-capped Hygrocybe (?), another Hygrophorus, a few unidentified Agaricus sp, Suillus sp., some soft puffballs, most everything being pretty colorful and/or edible.

Today's catch

So nice to finally get out searching and to even see anything. To see so many “friends”, felt good.

Maybe the local cemetery or forest during the next rain break will be my next spots.

To the right is a picture I took of the stash as soon as I got home.

Top clockwise, left to right, a Suillus sp., Hygrophorus sp., Red-capped Russula rosaceous {?), Blewits, some Agaricus bitorquis, some yellow Naematoloma (?). Hygrophorus glutinosus, Lactarius deliciosus, red Hygrocybe (?), and the tan-caped Lyophyllum decastes.

Terms to help describe Amanitas (from Debbie Viess) (top)

Re: How to explain the difference between basal bulb and volva? 

Good question, and one that many beginning amanita observers have wondered can a smooth-based swollen stipe (take our local Amanita novinupta as an example) be a volva, and if there is no volva, how does it fit the definition of amanita?

It all becomes much clearer when you understand that "volva" is merely another name for the universal veil. ALL amanitas start life with a universal veil, or extra tissue that covers the developing mushroom. In amanitas like phalloides and most grisettes, that veil is membranous, and so as the mushroom (with an egg-like initial appearance) develops, the veil tears, to form a loose sac at 
the base and rarely, a thin patch on the cap.

In amanitas like muscaria or the various reddening amanitas (franchetii and novinupta here in the west), that volva is friable or composed of easily broken apart inflated cells, which when expanded form warts or a close cup or sometimes just disappear. The remnants of the volva or universal veil form the rings on a muscaria bulb, and the flecks of yellow universal veil along the bulb of a franchetii. In the lepidellas, that universal veil is white and flocculent and often worn away by time, weather, etc.

The basal bulb is just the shape that a particular mushroom takes, independent of the universal veil or volva.

- Debbie Viess

Fungal Food Preserving Ideas (from Debbie Viess) (top)

  • Candy caps should be dried slowly and at low heat (or even no heat) for best results.
  • Temps for drying mushrooms should never get above 115 degrees, otherwise you are cooking those mushrooms. It is important to have a drier with a temperature control.
  • Golden chanterelles rehydrate with a leathery texture if dried; clean, dry sauté and then sauté briefly in butter before freezing. Same for hedgies.
  • Black chanterelles dry and rehydrate beautifully, as do yellow-foot chanterelles.
  • Pickling or packing mushrooms in salt is another way to preserve them; ask a Russian how to do it.
  • Make duxelle with Agaricus species: chop finely, sauté with butter and shallots until it is cooked down, then freeze. Use chunks to flavor food.
  • Morels also dry and rehydrate well, but I prefer the fresh texture myself.
  • Most importantly, don't over-pick! 
    You will have to deal with those mounds of mushrooms once you get home. 

Slave labor of love. ;)

- Debbie Viess

Featured Mushroom, the  Black Morel (Morchella elata) (top)

Morchella elata is what we call the morel we usually find up here in the early spring, right after the snow melts. It is one of the most fun to find, as well as one of the most tasty mushrooms (COOKED!).

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