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.
I took the dogs out for an early morning walk in a forest not far from the city. I was hoping to see the first chanterelles of the season or possibly even some early summer boletes, but I didn’t come across any interesting fungi.
We enjoyed a hike along various forest trails and stopped at a creek so the dogs could splash around and cool off.
Somebody came across this blog after searching “the biggest mushroom species Ontario”. I wonder if that person was looking for the mushrooms the grew the largest or the ones there are most examples of in the province. If the question was meant to be what is the largest, then I guess I have to ask, do you mean the largest organism or the largest fruit? I suspect the honey mushroom (Armillaria mellea) might be the largest organism and perhaps the giant puffball (Calvatia gigantea) the largest fruit. Any other guesses? Now if the question was about the most common fungi in the province, I couldn’t begin to guess. For all I know it could be some kind of resupinate or slime mold. Who knows?
After a few days under the weather, I was feeling much more energetic by yesterday afternoon. I planned to take the dogs for a walk in the woods this morning to see if I could find some oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus populinus) fruiting. Unfortunately, the morning started off with a steady drizzle with more rain possible through the day. I decided the best thing to do would be to stay home (and dry) and work on my studio reorganization instead.
My brother the trout, Salvelinas Fontinalis, took me to a top secret morel spot today. How secret was it? It was so secret, I had to drive blindfolded. Secret handshakes were involved.
Some of them were yellow; others were more greyish. Here’s a huge one!
Memphis and Ellie Mae had a ball. They’re both tuckered out now.
We also found loads of ramps and we each brought home a bag of them. These wild leeks are delicious fried up with the morels.
Here’s some ramps cleaned up.
As you can see from this picture of a morel sliced in half, morels are completely hollow inside.
Ellie Mae was ready for a little nap on the deck when we got home.
I’ve been looking for morels with no success. Looks like they are later than usual this year. Maybe after a weekend of rain there will be more around. Today, I took a drive up to a forest I forage in during the summer. All I found was a false morel.
The bottom of the cap isn’t attached to the stem. The stem is very thick. The cap is highly irregular, appearing as a lump in the forest.
I did, however, enjoy a nice hike in a beautiful forest.
Salvelinas tells me the mushroom pictured looks like Gyromitra esculenta.
We’ve been experiencing unseasonably cool temperatures here in Southern Ontario. I wonder how much that will affect the timing of the fruiting of morels this season. I wish I had a better understanding of the triggers that cause various mushrooms to appear. Is the primary driver temperature? Or perhaps it has more to do with hours of available daylight? Moisture content is clearly important but how do all the factors fit together? I have some understanding of some of the relationships between certain mushrooms and certain trees, but as far as mushrooms go, I haven’t been at it long enough to really have a good feel for the timing.
In my little brain, I associate the fruiting of morels with the emergence of a mayfly called Ephemerella subvaria, the famous Hendrickson. But that’s merely a casual observation and I don’t know if it really holds true. It would be very interesting to document those relationships over time. I know that some people have studied the relationship between mayfly emergences and the seasonal blooming of various plants. That’s what Bob Scammel’s The Phenological Fly is all about. I don’t know if anyone has studied the relationship between fruiting of fungi and mayfly emergence. Both mayflies and mushrooms have an order if not a precise schedule. I think it would be a lot of fun to spend a few hours every day for a season in the forests and on the streams, observing, photographing, documenting. I think my dogs would enjoy that too!
The warmer weather has got me thinking about foraging for wild mushrooms. It’s only a matter of weeks until the morels make an appearance in Southern Ontario. I should say elusive morels because last year I was spectacularly unsuccessful in my quest for morels for dinner. I found lots of oysters, more than my share of chanterelles, plenty of hedgehogs (both kinds). I found boletes of various varieties, buckets of lobsters, some tasty milk caps and even a cauliflower. But morels? I only found one, and it wasn’t for lack of trying.
This year, I hope to do better on the morel front. It kind of reminds me of the time I started fly fishing on Silver Creek in Central Idaho. I thought I’d never catch one of those trout. Then slowly over two or three trips I started to get the hang of it.
Salvelinas tells me they’re finding morels now in southern Pennsylvania. As the season progresses, they’ll make an appearance further and further north. I wonder if there is any kind of measurable co-relation between the emergence of the Hendrickson mayfly, Ephemerella subvaria, and the fruiting of morels? It seems that hear in the east, they appear at approximately the same time. My notes over time may shed some light on this.