Fungi Fest & Honey Mushrooms

IMG_1618The Asheville Mushroom Club put on an absolutely wonderful Fungi Fest at Warren Wilson College outside of Asheville on Saturday. With mushroom walks and talks; vendors, growers; artists; teachers, beautiful and creative displays of many species that members brought in for display – it was pretty much a festival at a museum! Way to go AMC !! The picture to the left is a paper mache Chicken of the Woods erected in the center of the main hall.

IMG_1622Aside from the “continuing education” and like-minded social contact, as a forager I got an idea of what people are currently finding. Several species of Honey Mushroom species, including Armillaria mellea, showed up on the tables. That, plus the rain I drove through coming and going, signaled, “get out in the woods as soon as you get home”. Ellen and I were out today – Labor day – and scarfed honey mushrooms in the same exact place I did last year (an important piece of info).

IMG_1621Well, if Honeys were showing in the same place, although three weeks later, maybe the Chicken of the Woods and Cauliflowers that we found the same day might be up. BINGO! Here are two (multi-lobed) that weighed in at 4 1/2 lbs. Same trees! The chicken tree looked bare, but there was a very slight “bud” showing in one spot near the ground line. Another week you think?? I love it when one mushroom leads to another because they like the same conditions, I guess.

If you are a follower of this blog and live in this area, the Cumberland Mycological Society has a foray scheduled Saturday, September 23, at the Bandy Creek Campground up in the Big South Fork National Recreation Area. It’s worth driving up if you want to learn what’s up and how to identify them. Check out the CMS on-line.

Hens, Honeys and Lobsters

Last Thursday, Sept 10, I went over to the Brevard, NC area to scout the trails where my “cousin in-law” Ken and I are going to lead an all day foray during the NAMA (North HenAmerican Mycological Association) gathering this weekend outside of Asheville. Ken and I spent about four hours on the trails, and decided on a plan which should give our participants a good experience. Along the way a few good things happened. In mid-Sept, Ken found a small patch of black trumpets, we saw our first Honey mushrooms of the year, and I found a small, and I mean small (10 oz.) Hen of the Woods, Grifola frondosa. We split it :-)

HoneyFriday morning, I got up and figured that if Honeys were up in Brevard, then maybe here too. Sure enough, they were and along the way I experienced something worth sharing. Strange Jack O’Lanterns were around also. Last year I posted a blog picture that showed Honeys and Jacks intermingled at the based of the same large, dead oak., Well, Friday I saw what appeared to be the yellowish honey-colored cap of an Armillaria mellea (top), but they were in fact Jack O’Lanterns, Omphalotus illudens (bottom), unless the name JackHoneyhas been recently changed. Apparently the recent heavy rains had leached the orange pigments out of the Jack. If a novice had been foraging, and not turned the cap over to examine it, and ignored the other ID features,, the could have very well picked one or two it they were in a rush and not mindful. Look at the exposed gills in this picture and notice how whitish they are. To a pro, no prob. To a novice, prob.

Lobster5Today was a dry day; however, I took a flyer on my favorite lobster spot – the one that had that 100 pound yield several years ago. It’s way past mid-August, but Ken and I had found a few small ones on Thursday, so I went in anyway. Bam! As I entered he woods, orange spots appeared and I got about 10 pounds. They had the feel of and size of having come up over the weekend and then sat in the low humidity this week. Pretty good though. So . . . . .  be looking because we re still in the Summer-Fall transition period. Puffballs haven’t shown up yet – any day now.

Pick carefully

Some folks will say that if mushrooms together  “look similar to you” then it’s safe to pick indiscriminatley. STOP and look at each mushroom you pick individually. Here are some Jack O’Lanterns and Honeys side by side. These honeys have unusually thick stipes but they have rings, attached white gills and white flesh.