I took these photos on a walk through a lovely suburban forest, one of those places you wouldn’t know was there unless you knew it was there.
The photo above shows a breat’s head tooth growing from a felled tree in the forest.
This forest has a variety of slime molds and resupinates, a good place for those that study such things.
After I posted about oyster mushrooms the other day, someone asked me if there were any other mushrooms I might mistake for oyster mushrooms. In Southern Ontario this time of year, there isn’t much around that might cause confusion (although I say that, I also say that you should never consume any mushroom from the forest unless you can identify it with 100% certainty – always be sure!)
Another mushroom you may see growing from trees in the woods this time of year is the Dryad’s Saddle or Polyporus squamosus.
I usually see these low down on tree trunks. They are much firmer than oysters and have the characteristic brown on them. They also smell kind of like watermelon rind. I understand these are tough but edible, but that said, I know one naturalist who swears he ate some once and they made him sick. I’ve never tried eating these and don’t intend to try them.
The Weather Network has predicted normal summer temperatures this year, but in the Toronto area, higher than normal precipitation. This is good news for the amateur mycologists in the crowd. Last season started off well enough with plenty of morels and plenty of oysters but then a very dry July made it a poor year for chanterelles. Things picked up some later in August and into September. I found my share of hedgehogs, some good puffballs and some milk caps and as usual, plenty of lobster mushrooms.
I missed those chanterelles last year though. I’d love to see a warm wet July this year to get the chanterelles and the summer boletes off to a good start. Just sayin’.
The other day when I was out looking for ramps, I was accompanied by those intrepid forest-lovers, Memphis and Ellie Mae.
I headed out for the enchanted mushroom forest this morning, along with my buddies Memphis and Ellie Mae. I didn’t find a lot of mushrooms today though.
This is a meager sample of Hypsizygus ulmarius, the so-called Elm Oyster. I say so-called because in Ontario, I’ve only found them on maple trees. I expected to find some better samples for dinner, but nope, this was it.
These are Lycoperdon pyriforme, the Pear-shaped puffball, known in some circles as the “wolf-fart” puffball. These are edibles. The ones in this photo are in various stages of maturity. I should have taken more photos, including close-ups. You can see though, that some of them are a dun colour. These are already in full maturity. If you plan to eat these, pick only the immature ones that are all white. Everywhere you read about the little puffballs, you’ll find a warning to cut them in half to be sure they are in fact puffballs and not immature poisonous amanitas. Never mind that you won’t find amanitas growing on a dead tree – I always take that precaution because the cost of eating deadly amanitas is way too high. In another area of the forest, I found number of samples of another variety of small puffball, known as the gem-studded puffball, Lycoperdon perlatum.
In just one spot near the trail, I came across a bunch of Aborted Entoloma at the base of a stump. These are edibles, and I can say that they’re pretty good. However, they are just so strange, I don’t find them all that appetizing. I expected to also find loads of honey mushrooms nearby, but only found a few.
We enjoyed a great hike on some excellent trails through a forest that has a great deal of variety. And as a bonus for the dogs, we hiked to a big pool in the river where they had a lengthy swim.
Plenty of rainfall has led to many wild mushrooms in New Jersey forests, but officials say don’t eat them.
The center says there’s no easy way to tell the difference between poisonous and harmless mushrooms
I can understand a warning that says, “don’t eat wild mushrooms unless you are 100% certain you have identified safe edible specimens,” but I think a sweeping general warning is over the top. It is true that the only way to tell a mushroom is safe is to learn to identify them. You don’t have to learn every species though. Learn a few common edibles well, and leave the rest. Next year, learn a couple more.
The fact is that there are plenty of safe tasty edible mushrooms that are not all that difficult to identify. There are all sorts of mushrooms that are very difficult to identify too, so I simply don’t collect them.
On the other hand, a warning like the one issues by New Jersey officials might not be a bad thing for those of us who like to pick tasty edibles – more forest for us.
Yesterday, someone landed on this little chunk of paradise after entering “King Bolete Ontario Map” in a search engine. King Boletes are Boletus edulis. They have a number of common names, but you may know them best as Porcini – the little pig mushrooms. These mushrooms are available commercially in dried form, and are very delicious with strong earthy flavour once reconstituted. I read somewhere that many of the porcini available commercially are imported from China. Who knew?
It is wishful thinking to expect a King Bolete Ontario Map to exist, but given how tasty they are, I can’t blame the searcher for searching. Let me assure you all that I don’t have any such map. In fact, I’ve yet to stumble into a King Bolete spot. One day I will, and when I do, I will surely go to great length to disguise its location. Sorry about that friends.
However, if you happen to be the proud owner of what you believe to be a King Bolete Ontario Map, I know you will need help authenticating it. Just send it over here and I’ll check out all the spots marked on it this fall and let you know if it is a quality map or not. This is a service I’m willing to provide out of the goodness of my heart.
I took Friday off work and headed up to the secret enchanted mushroom forests to do some foraging. I didn’t have high expectations because the rain we received mid-week wasn’t nearly enough to encourage a good flush of tasty edibles. However, wandering around a forest always makes for a good day, with or without lots of mushrooms to pick.
I went to my most reliable chanterelle spot first and found nothing at all. It was a mushroom-free zone of the worst order. I wandered down the trail thinking I should give the whole area at least a quick look before abandoning ship. I almost stepped on the chanterelles in the picture below, as they were on the edge of the trail I was walking.
Look how well hidden they are in the leaves on the floor of the forest. Encouraged by this find, I examined this chunk of forest carefully. I found just 8 chanterelles in total. I also found two bug-eaten examples of hypomyces lactifluorum. Aha, I thought. The lobsters have started. I high-tailed it over to a nearby forest that always has loads of lobsters, but nada. So I drove to another productive lobster spot, a boggy hemlock forest. Again nada. At this spot, I was reminded that there are many inconsiderate idiots roaming this planet. See the photo below:
Who did they think was going to clean up after them?
Off I went to yet another forest. This is one I’ve only recently learned about. However, today there were no mushrooms around. It was a beautiful forest to walk through though.
Later on Friday, our pals Candy and Stagg came over, and also Behzad, another friend we’ve known for many years. We enjoyed some bbq and a couple excellent games of scrabble. It was great to see Candy and Stagg, who have been on an incredible roadtrip and recently arrived in Toronto.
I was counting on a good rainfall today to encourage some wild mushroom fruiting so my visit to local forests on Friday becomes more than a pleasant walk through the woods (not that I mind a walk through the woods). Where I was, we didn’t enjoy enough rain to seriously wet the ground. I have a reliable report of half an hour of good rain in the Vaughn area, which, while a little encouraging, is not enough to get me excited.