Pleurotus populinus

Pleurotus populinus, an oyster mushroom sometimes known as the aspen oyster, is a delicious mushroom that appears in Southern Ontario in late May or early June. All the rain we’ve had in the last couple days was likely a trigger for the appearance of these mushrooms so the dogs and I piled into the station wagon this morning and headed for the Enchanted Mushroom Forest.

These mushrooms are very striking in the forest and are easy to spot growing off the sides of dead poplar trees.

They are creamy-white to yellowish-white and typically the fresher they are the whiter they are. When nice and fresh, these oysters have a lovely delicate odour, not dissimilar to anise.

Sometimes you’ll find them on fallen trees but other times they grow high in the trees, out of reach. I confess I’ve used long dead saplings found on the forest floor to knock choice oysters from high perches.

Oyster mushrooms tend to be quite clean, sitting up in trees and all, but watch for tiny black beetles that sometimes take up residence in their short stems and hide between the gills. I carefully inspect each mushroom when I get home.

Can you spot the oysters in this forest shot? They go quite high up the tree. When I’m looking for them, I typically walk the trails and look for bits of white in the forest.

Oysters are mild mushrooms with a delicate texture. They’re very nice in stir fries, or in omelets, or try them fried up in butter served up on toast. They dry up well too, which is a good thing because oyster mushrooms are a feast or famine kind of mushroom. When you find them, you usually find plenty. I’m drying a batch in an inexpensive hardware store dehyrdator now.

5 thoughts on “Pleurotus populinus”

  1. It would be just my luck to take in one of those little black beetles with my oyster mushroom. But then again, I probably would not know that I had. If the little black beetles eat oyster mushrooms, then they themselves probably taste just like oyster mushrooms.

  2. Once you’ve had them really fresh from the tree, it becomes obvious that the overpriced oyster mushrooms in the grocery store have often been sitting around for a while.

  3. Just to be clear, these oyster mushrooms are in fact essentially the same oyster mushrooms that you find in your local grocery store. The commercial growers may cultivate a slightly different variety which produces more reliably in captivity and there are commercial crops of blue and pink and yellow oysters but an oyster mushroom is an oyster mushroom. The wild ones dont cost $8.00/pound and are several days fresher and I think you can taste the difference freshness makes. The really big difference though is that no one would go out and buy 10 or 15 pounds of oyster mushrooms from the grocery store while harvesting that much in an hour or 2 is pretty easy when there is a good fruiting.

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