Special Issue, February 2004
A Trip to Southern CA
Published about twice a year from Greenville, California
by Herman Brown 



In February, we went south towards the Santa Barbara area to visit with friends and family, to find a bit of warmer weather, and to check the area for winter mushrooms.  It had been much too cold here to even go out for long walks. We were hoping to collect some Golden Chanterelles and Bleeding Agaricus, the Agaricus fuscofribrillosus.  We didn't find any Chanterelles at all, but were pleasantly surprised by what we did find.

Because I was mainly going for pictures and mushrooms for the table, I didn't identify many of them.

However, since I announced this page, I have received some ID help from John Plischke III (PA), Maggie Rogers (OR), Darvin Deshazer (CA). and most recently, Michael Kuo (IL) of www.mushroomexpert.com

Click on any picture to see a larger image
(best seen with the browser's view set to full-screen)

The day we arrived in Arroyo Grande, I looked around my daughter's property and found a small clump of the larger and darker, solid-stemmed Candy Caps, the Lactarius rufulus, growing under her Coastal Live Oaks.  Although too mature for the table, their maple-syrup aroma was very pleasant.  Close to these I found some of the red-capped, peppery-hot Russula emetica and an old, unidentified Lactarius. 

When we went farther south a few days later, we stopped to look for Chanterelles along the way, but only found a few unidentified brown cup mushrooms.

When we returned back to Arroyo Grande, my daughter showed me a beautiful white morel that she found growing in her garden. I told her to keep checking that spot after we left.

UPDATE: In November of 2004. Michael Kuo informed me that the species was actually a Morchella rufobrunnea, http://www.mushroomexpert.com/morchella_rufobrunnea.html

White Morel

We then took a drive to the Cambria - San Simeon area to see what we could find up there.  The first mushrooms we saw in Cambria were a small group of drying Blewits, under some of the Cyprus that grow along the coast.  We also saw some dried Amanita muscaria near a spot where we usually find a few, some Helvella lacunosa, Agaricus fuscofribrillosus, and a few unidentified Agaricus.  The small numbers were not too encouraging.

Helvella lacunosa
Elfin Saddle
Helvella lacunosa - one pair infected with Hypomyces cervinigenus (ID from John Plischke)

Agaricus fuscofribrillosus
Bleeding Agaricus
Agaricus fuscofribrillosus

An unidentified Agaricus

Next, we traveled up to the San Simeon area and found a few more mushrooms, collecting some tasty Agaricus and A. perobscurus for the table.  We also found some Laccaria, Lepiota rachodes, an unidentified Ramaria, and many unidentified various-colored mushrooms.

The most unusual mushroom we saw was a mushroom that looked something like a pile of pasta, but much wider pasta than the Cauliflower Mushrooms we had seen in Oregon.

An unidentified close-gilled mushroom,

Growing out of a pine cone,
Gymnopilus sp. 

A large unidentified Agaricus
Agaricus bisporus? 

A fairy ring of Laccaria

Laccaria amethysteo-occidentalis or L. bicolor?

Ramaria sp.?

More bleeding Agaricus

Chlorophyllum brunneum
Probably a Chlorophyllum brunneum
what Arora calls Lepiota rachodes var.

(according to Else Vellinga)

Chlorophyllum brunneum

Agaricus perobscurus
The Princess
Agaricus perobscurus

Agaricus perobscurus
Two princesses, one showing the pallid gills when young

A patch of Clitocybe?

Gymnopilus sp.

An unidentified tan mushroom
in Eucalyptus grove
Psathyrella sp.

Inonotus dryadeus
Inonotus dryadeus?

Sparassis crispa
Left-over pasta or Sparassis crispa

An unidentified gray mushroom

Psathyrella candolleana
Psathyrella candolleana?

An close-up of an orange, unidentified lichen with orange, mushroom-like fruiting bodies called "apothecia", according to Maggie Rogers

When we got back to Arroyo Grande, my son-in-law showed me a batch of the biggest Pine Spikes that I had ever seen, which he had found under some Cyprus growing along their driveway. Chroogomphus rutilus
Pine Spikes,
Chroogomphus rutilus

 Later we went to the mountains behind Cayucos, and on a friend's property, we found more Helvella, some Grisettes, more unidentified mushrooms, and a what looked like a red-capped Hygrocybe or Hygrophorus.

Hygrophorus speciosus? 

All in all, it was a great 10 days.