Like the previous dry years, this year again was no exception. However, this spring, we did find some pretty large morels to last us for a while, along with a small supply of the Spring King Boletes (Boletus pinophilus). This year so far I identified three new species (for me), the soft, white Tyromyces leucospongia (Marshmallow Polypore), the delicious Agaricus albolutescens, and what was later identified for me by Steve Trudell as the yellow, persistent-veiled Cortinarius verrucisporus..
Findings, April to July, 2002 (top)
Friday, April 19: This morning I went to one of my morels spots near Lake Almanor (4400 ft) to see if anything was up there yet. I found a few Sarcosphaera crassa mounds, some clumps of Hebeloma in a few burned areas, one LBM, but no morels yet.
So far though, I have collected about 2 lbs of the Gyromitra gigas/montana (at 3600 ft elevation), and have enjoyed every mouthful.
Sunday, April 28: Well, the morels have appeared early at 4400 ft. in the northern tip of the Sierras. Today we found about 1/2 lb. of small, light-colored morels near Lake Almanor. It started with just one at the first place we searched, and after that we looked a bit harder, and in the next few spots we looked, we always found at least one. This is the earliest we have ever found them at that elevation. Hopefully this is just the beginning, and the light rain we have been experiencing may help.
Many were found in cleared fire rings, but all were found in old thinned areas. My guess is that the areas were thinned out 3-4 years ago.
Monday, April 29: I went back to the local campground in Greenville to see if I could find more of the Gyromitra gigas/montana. The first thing I saw was a batch of about 1-week old Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), an unusual site because I have only found them at the same spot in October-November.
Then I checked out area where I had found
two large gigas a few days ago and found several more. Then I
started looking more diligently and found many more, all pretty large,
some bigger than I have ever seen. Many were under
I also found a solitary Verpa conica.
The weight of the cleaned gigas was about 1 1/4 lb. Needless to say, I will be checking some of my other local spots more often.
Tuesday, May 7: Today I decided to check out my morels spots near Lake Almanor (4400 ft) again to see if anything had appeared since last week.
I found a few large and fresh morels, but very few where I was looking for them. Most were near where I parked the car, or on the way to where I normally find them.
But, by the time I got home, I had collected the following: 2 nice Agaricus albolutescens, 1 fuzzy truffle (Geopora cooperi), 1 Gyromitra gigas/montana, and about 10oz. morels.
The largest of the morels (about 4" cap) was all by itself near a bike trail, partially buried under some duff and dirt.
I don't know what I learned from this other than that if you wander long enough in the forest (about 3 hours), you're bound to find something.
Friday, May 24: It has been pretty
cold here at night, so I am not too surprised by the lack of the usual
fungi that usually comes here in the Spring. However, I went up to
Lake Almanor this morning to see what I could find.
It has started to warm up a bit, so I hope this brings forth a new flush of morels, and hopefully, some Spring King Boletes.
Tuesday, May 28: This morning, on the way to Mt. Lassen, we stopped at a campground on the way to check for King Boletes. We didn't find anything there except a few puffballs, one being the left-overs from a giant puffball.
On the way back home, we decided to check out a logging operation I figured was finished at least a year ago.
Cecelia quickly found a nice patch of Gyromitra gigas and I soon found one small morel. Then I found a few more, enough to make me want to go back and get my basket.
We found them almost everywhere, mostly small at first, but as we looked harder, we started finding the bigger ones. Some were in large groups along the side of a dirt road, and most of the biggest we found were buried under about 1/2" of stiff duff, making them pretty squatty, many being around 3" in diameter. We missed finding these at first, thinking the mounds were just more of the Sarcosphaera crassa, which were pretty common. After we started checking all the small mounds, we found a good batch of more morels.
We also found a few of the tasty, amber-staining Agaricus albolutescens buttons, more Gyromitra gigas, and a few Discina perlata.
All of these were found on a north-north-east facing slope at around 6000 ft, and patches of snow were still visible in the shadier locations.
When we got home, I weighed in the morels and they totaled just under 3 lbs.
So we had fun today! This brought back some of the enthusiasm I had lost because of the lack of mushrooms nearer to home.
Saturday, June 1: On Saturday, Cecelia and I went back to the same area near Westwood, but to check out some different places. Most were on flat ground, sloping slightly south, but all the places were where there had been some thinning operations performed maybe 2-3 years ago. I had checked the general flat areas a few days ago (by myself, scouting for possible places to come to later) and brought home 1 lb of morels.
We found lots of different types of mushrooms, the most notable in quantity being Yellow Coral mushrooms, Pink Crowns, and large morels. We also found 1 small Spring King Bolete and 2 of Amber-Staining Agarics.
There were various types of Russula, Hygrophorus (pink-tinged and all-white), Cortinarius (some bright yellow), and many I didn't identify to genus.
The total count for the morels was about 3 1/2 lbs, and almost all were fresh and bug-free. Most of them we found were also pretty large, but a few were starting to dry up (lighter in weight than the rest) and some were still pretty small. Only one or two looked a bit past their prime.
It didn't seem to matter where we looked. Most were in the disturbed areas, some were in the ground-cover plants that were all around the area (Pine Manzanita, I believe), some were in full sun, and some were on the banks along the side of a dirt road.
Another fun day!
I made a 2-egg omelet this morning with the Amber-Staining Agarics with one large morel. Very tasty!
Friday, June 19: After having some success finding good-sized morels at some of the old logging areas near Westwood (5700 ft,), but noticing that they were getting lighter in weight each time we went, and after finding one Spring King Boletus (B. pinophilus), I started concentrating on looking for the pinophilus at 4400 ft. Above town (Greenville), I have been finding a few each time I go back to the same areas. Today I found 6. One was past its prime and another had too many worm tracks for my taste. That still left a good pan full.
But the rest were still nice and fresh, and one was less than 4" in diameter, so the season apparently isn't over at 4400 ft., even though it seems much too dry for them.
I was shown two mushrooms by a person who lives in the area, and these were the right cap color, with firm, non-bluing white flesh, tiny yellow pores, reticulate on the upper part of the stem. However, the caps were cracked kind of like a B. chrysenteron but with white between the cracks. They were found on the steep bank of the side of a newly widened road and didn't have the bulbous base. I told him to take them home and eat them anyway.
He also showed me some in another part of
the road that had been widened, and the stalks were very short and the
caps pretty small. I think the shape was because most of the top
soil had been scooped away. I will sample then
Not much else appearing at that elevation, except a few Amanitas here and there.
Monday, July 15: As I sat down and started to work on my July newsletter, I realized that I had not been out looking for mushrooms for over a month.
So, I decided to go up to an area above Chester to see if I could find some of the summer Butter Boletes (B. appendiculatus) (correction, the B. abieticola).
After I only found 2 very wormy specimens, which could have been the Boletus regius, a couple with their children asked if they could tag along with me as looked for mushrooms. The father wanted his sons to see a mushroom.
I first showed them the two wormy ones, and then walked around the area again, saying "the more eyes the better". I was glad I did, as we, actually they, immediately found a small puffball which I squashed between my fingers to show the kids the spores. Then they found a very large Hydnum rimosum, and I pointed out the teeth under the cap. Then they found a couple of large, brown Gyromitra californica growing along the side a creek, and I showed them the mostly hollow interior.
I also found one small gilled mushroom along side of the same creek and pointed out the gills as compared with the pores in the Boletus.
What started out seeming to be a wasted trip, turned out to be a very enjoyable one.
Friday, July 26: Today we took a friend to Drakesbad (above Chester) for lunch, and on the way back, Cecelia found a couple Lentinus ponderosus. Because they were already beginning to dry out, I will continue to let them dry for later use in a soup. It might mean that it is worth another visit to the general area and see if there are some fresher ones. Cecelia had seen two fresh ones nearer to the resort, but we left them because we were still in the Lassen Park boundaries. These were too much to carry anyway (10-12" in diameter) because the trip to the car was about another 1 1/2 mile walk.
Mushroom-Picking Permits for Plumas and Lassen National Forests II (top)
In the last issue, I talked about the status of the new mushroom picking permits in both the Lassen and Plumas National Forests. This year, I kept close contact with both forests and it seemed to pay off.
The result in the Lassen NF was a new permit that is unlimited in quantity for all mushrooms other than King Boletus and Morels, which were limited to 20 pounds per day, and the permit was good from April 19 to December 31. A mushroom picker's handout, written by Mike Boom, was issued with the permit, and a couple of pages were included that talked about the reasons for the permit.
Here is wording of the handout, rewritten by Mike from an article he had written years ago for the MSSF's Mycena News:
In the Plumas NF, after repeatedly asking about the status of the new permit, I was told that they had decided to no longer require permits for picking mushrooms. I am not quite sure if this means forever or not, but this was the response I got:
Last year, the Plumas permits were $10 and only for a very limited season.
I guess it does pay after all to offer to help where needed and to be persistent.
Does Picking Mushrooms Cause Ecological Harm? (top)
The following is an excerpt from a message by fellow MSSF member Debbie Viess, used with her permission. I thought it was good information to add to my newsletter:
Featured Mushroom, Lentinus (now Neolentinus) ponderosus (top)
This issue’s featured mushroom is the Lentinus ponderosus, now named the Neolentinus ponderosus.
This is one of the few mushrooms that seem to brave the heat of summer in the Sierras. It is one of the largest mushrooms I have found, and is supposedly used as a Shitake or Matsutake substitute. I still have some dried and powdered ones from last year, and will probably use them as a thickening agent in a sauce or soup.
Here is the link to the L. (N.) ponderosus at the Mykoweb website: Neolentinus ponderosus