Late Fall Mushrooms

Temperatures at night are expected to fall to near 30 degrees this week, so it looks like we are getting near the end of our mushrooms “season”. There are still some nice edibles to  be had however. Friday, I collected a nice young chicken of the woods, honey mushrooms, lions mane (Hericium), wood blewits and oysters.

 The honey mushrooms were Armillaria gallica which are smaller than the Armillaria mellea we were finding in September prior to the drought of several weeks. A. gallica tend to grow in small clumps scattered around the forest floor and appear to be growing on the ground. However, if you pick, rather than cut, them you will notice they detach easily from their substrate. What happens is that the rhizomorphs, or boot-lace like structures of the fungus, grow in the forest litter right under the leaves over a large area. In this case about 1/4 acre. Apparently, when they hit a solid obstruction they fruit. Many of the specimens (7 pounds) had a pebble, stick or piece of loose bark with rhizomoprhs  attached to the swollen base of the fungus. Notice the rhizomorphs in the collection below. Michael Kuo has a good description on Mushroom Expert.

  I also gathered another Hericium from the same tree that I posted about on October 6. It was growing on another spot on the same wound. So, it took three weeks after a harvest to produce another within a couple of feet of the first. That’s a good thing to remmber for next year. This one was a 3-pounder.

I have wriiten before about novices confusing Jack O’Lanterns for Chanterelles. Once you know both species, you might ask, “How could this happen?”. Well, it does. The pictures bellow show how Jack O’Lanterns can be scattered in clumps, in this case in the middle of a Paw Paw patch, such that they aren’t recognized as growing on wood. They are beautiful but sickening.

On the Chicken of the Woods, we left some little knobs on Friday and are going back today to see how they grew. There was a nice steady light rain yesterday also. It’s been fun watching the growth rate on some of these species this fall.

Suillus were flushing abundantly a couple of weeks ago. Below from left to right are S. granulatus, S. americanus and S. pictus. We found these under white pine. In a plantation of loblolly pine we found some other Suillus including S. punctipes, which has nice nice violet color change when a drop of KOH is put on the cap surface. Suillus, as a group, are sort of slimey and don’t do well sauteed, but they dry very well and then are a good addition to soups, stews and gravies that need thickening. Some of the Asheville Mushroom Club members powder them for use in some of the club’s recipes. You can find the club mushroom recipe book through the Asheville Mushroom Club link in my site’s “sidebar” to the right

Metro Pulse Article

If you haven’t already, check out this week’s issue of Metro Pulse, Knoxville’s vistor, entertainment and restaurant guide tabloid. The feature is “Mushrooming”. Here is the link:  “Mushroom Hunter” is a  feature on my foraging, and the “Chefs” section features several restauarants I’m associated with as well as the mushroom class at Avanti Savoia that I mentioned in a previous post. Bob Hess’s Everything Mushroom business is the other story. Bob sells spawn and other grower supplies mostly on-line and has a thriving business here in Knoxville.

I hope you enjoy the articles and pass the link on to others. Note: the picture above is of Honey Mushrooms collected when I foraged with Rose the writer and David the photographer. The discriminating reader will also see a Gerronema strombodes, which is not an edible as far as I know, but it was out and it was pretty to photograph.


Around the first week of October the puffballs started showing up, which is why I posted the Puffball Parmesan recipe a few days ago. There are big ones and small ones. The large ones make great puffball parmesan, but don’t overlook the small ones.

This is the large one, a Clavatia species – probably Clavatia cyathifomis. You will usually find these in fields or roadsides in the Valley. As they grow, they tend to have a “base” of sterile tissue that looks like a pedestal. They begin with a whitish skin which will eventually starting turning brownish and develop a cracking appearance.This doesn’t mean that it is too mature however. If it’s very firm, then pick it and check the insides.

Puffballs mature from the base upward. So cut one in half, top to bottom. If the inside is pure white, the texture and color of angel food cake, then it is OK. Slice and trim these  if you so desire. If you see yellowish or brownish color developing, then discard. I ALWAYS err on the side of caution. You will notice the one to the left has a slight brownish streak beginning from the base.

If you’re in the woods rather than the fields, look for these little fellows. Lycoperdon pyriforme. They grow in clusters on decaying hardwood logs and occur in large numbers. Last week I picked hundreds off one log, and that added up to a gallon or more. I ALWAYS cut the bottom off to see if the inside is white. When cooking, saute, I slice each one cross wise to get disks of puffbal which cook evenly. Eat the skin and all.

Beware of pigskin puffballs, Scleroderma  (poisonous), which have a very thick skin and should not have a white interior. Tom Volk has a good discussion with pictures You can also see the Giant Puffballs on his site. I have found a few here in the valley from time to time. No pedestal, round, thin white skin, and look like soccer balls from a distance.

Puffballs are easy to learn and a nice edible around the end of September and first part of October. Just remember, ALWAYS cut them open and examine prior to eating.