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Wild Mushrooms: had to go back for more

07.18.11

How I got to my 30′s without knowing the wild agaricus genus of mushroom, I will never know. Agaricus Bisporus is the button mushroom you find at the box stores – so are criminis and portabellos. Agaricus Campestris [seen here, and posted about yesterday], whose common name is ‘field mushroom’ is a still-wild relative. It will be added to my small-but-quickly expanding repertoire of wild mushrooms that I forage for, motivated in part by having harvested roughly 3 pounds in the past two days about 2km from where I live in the city. Motivated also in part by their ubiquity in the mushroom foray finds, and largely by their tastiness in the kitchen. Having had some mushroom-loving-friends weigh in with some good news on its potential ID and edibility, I figured I’d go back with my oldest daughter to clean up what I’d left behind the day before.

The spore print on the left was part of what helped ID it. I was looking for brown spore print. Taking a print is as easy as sticking some cap gill-side-down over a piece of paper, then covering it with a bowl and leaving it overnight. The bowl removes wind currents from the equation and allows the spores to drop straight down. I find spore prints fascinatingly detailed, and beautiful pieces of nature art. It’s worth mentioning that when spore printing some mushrooms, colored paper is more useful than white. When I had to confirm my shaggy parasols, I was looking for a white spore print. White spore on white paper, not so good, so using some white and some dark proves useful in some cases. In all cases, spore printing is just plain neat.

Turns out, on my return visit, I noticed a large patch of horseradish a couple hundred yards from the mushrooms. How it got there, I’m not sure, but there’s lots of it. It amazes me that these kinds of foods sit right under our noses – nevermind smack-dab in the middle of a city of a million people – largely ignored. Fascinating stuff.

7 Responses

  1. Mary says:

    Great post Kevin! I have mushrooms growing all over my yard and woods right now and am trying to identify what is edible and what is not. Your pics are great and have been very helpful to me!
    Thank you!

  2. bob says:

    Love the site! Last time I tried a spore print on a similiar looking mushroom it had decomposed into a black goo, needless to say I did not eat any of them.

  3. Debra Krause says:

    I’m glad you mentioned about taking a spore print. There’s a look alike of that mushroom known as the Destroying angel (amanita virosa) that is deadly poisonous and no cure. In fact, that whole family of amanitas either seem to be poisonous or edibility not known. I guess no one is brave enough to try lol I saw that quite a few people saw the same thing I did in your pics yesterday, they looked alot like them.

    That’s why it’s very important to go through the proper steps when id’ing a mushroom and to take the time to do a proper spore print.
    So, thanks for showing the spore print! lol
    - Deb

  4. I can tell this is only the beginning and that I will be learning a heck of a lot about mushrooms now – through you. You know I am wanting to get my hand on some Alberta Porcinis for the SFCanada Gala – I will have to give Thea a call and see if she will be out at all before the time has passed. I thought about taking it on myself, but it is just too overwhelming for me to think about as a pre-newby.
    :)
    V

  5. Thea says:

    A great all-round way of taking a spore print is on a sheet of glass instead of paper- that way, no matter what colour the spore, you can see it when held up to the light. Another cool thing is that even if you cover the mushroom with a bowl, sometimes they can really shoot out those spores well past their cap! One mushroom can even choose it’s target to the mm and shoot in a vertical arch for several metres!

    On the september long weekend we’ll be heading out to Hinton for the Great Alberta Foray. New this year will be activities for kids, since so much of mushroom discovery is good fun as well as a way of connecting to something so undervalued and misunderstood. We’ll be doing spore prints, mushroom surgery, tastings, and snack making. It’s $245 for adults for a weekend package including accommodation and meals at the Hinton Forestry Centre. http://www.wildmushrooms.ws

    Oh also Sunday August 14th, Devonian Gardens, City Of Champignons expo – Chad and I will be selling mushroom tasting plates, and the displays of fresh picked mushrooms are mind-blowing.

    Valerie- I dont think we refer to them as Alberta Porcinis – i used to, but it doesnt seem the thing amongst local mycologists- why dont we lay claim to them as our own and call them Leccinum Boreale. To be truthful, they dont taste nealy as good as porcini, so I dont think the Italians would be happy with the comparison. They have been out for a few weeks and maybe not much longer (after which they will be replaced by boletes genus which are easily mistaken – edible still apart fromt that ugly purple one). Sadly I have not collected any Leccinum Boreale this year. I have not heard of any being available commercially, dried or frozen. Mo-Na will know for sure.

  6. Debra Krause says:

    out in the aspen bushes there’s lots of Red Tops (leccinum boreale). My sister, mom and aunts have found so many that we all have 3 or 4 bagfuls of dried pieces in our freezer :)

  7. Twyla says:

    I have been noticing “all” kinds of mushrooms in our area of forest and even tasting some. What field guide do you use to identify the species?

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