Dry, But Still . . . ?

It’s official now (Oct 1, 2014); September 2014 was the driest month in recorded history at the Knoxville weather station (airport) with a total of only 0.19 inches of rain. Still, last week I posted on finding oysters. Yesterday I saw a few more that were probably last chicken093014week’s also, but surprisingly I found a chicken of the woods, Laetiporus sulphureus, that weighed 1 1/2 lbs. I thought about leaving it a day because it was so fresh, but underneath I could see insects just starting to find it. It was growing on a very punky stump remnant that had left a hole in the ground which may have served as a catchment, much like a cistern, and then the punky stump sequestered moisture like a sponge. Who knows, but I was certainly surprised.

About an hour after harvesting this one, I ran into a fellow who had just picked what looked like a 4-5 lbs chicken, Laetiporus cincinnatus, from someone’s yard. So, both species of chicken were found in the middle of a severe rain deficit, the same day. Nighttime temps have been holding in the 60′s and highs low 80′s. Go figure.

Rain is predicted for Friday, 1/2″ to 1.0″. Then lows will drop into high 40′s with highs around 70 for several days. There should be some mushroom fruiting simply because of the drastic change. Sexual reproduction, in natural sytems, is generally in response to change in external conditions, while asexual reproduction occurs in the presence of optimal conditions. So, be on the lookout here in the Valley. We’ll see happens next week.

First Hen !!

HenThat’s right. When I first began this blog, I lamented how I believed that I had collected all the decent edible mushrooms in the Great Valley except Grifola frondosa or Hen of the Woods. The wait is over. I found this 3-pounder a couple of days ago. It was about three feet from the base of a very alive white oak. Between this one and the white oak was another Hen. That one, however, was a bit older, and I could only salvage about a 1/4/ lb.

Oh well, I’ll be looking here next year ! This was a large tree, 20-inches or more in diameter, so surely it can support a BIG one. For now, however, I am quite happy with this one.

Berkley polypore

BerkeleyScientific name Bondarzewia berkeleyi. Anyone who has ever seen this giant parasitic/saprophytic mushroom may be interested in Michael Kuo’s description on Mushroom Expert, especially how it affects its host.
Although the Berkeley polypore can become bitter with age, when young like this one it has very tender tips. My friend Chef Seth at Echo Bistro in Knoxville uses the ones I give him to simmer up a wonderful mushroom stock. Maybe that is due to his last name, Simmerman. :-) This is also true of the “black-staining polypore” we usually forage earlier in the summer.

Don’t pass these by.