Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Moon of the Shroom....

Where we walk in the woods each morning there are TONS of mushrooms, and they really come into their own this time of year.  Beginning in mid-August and through September, one can see easily over 20 varieties if they are looking as they walk.  There is a couple I see there often, Pat and Mike...and their dog Max.  Pat is an amateur mycologist who photographs fungi and knows all of their latin names.  I am doubtful that I could ask her a question about mushrooms that would stump her.

Yesterday, I ran into them as we were headed in and they were headed out.  I brought up the topic of mushrooms and Pat said it is shaping up to be a very good year for them.  So, as I walked on, bearing this in mind, I scanned the forest floor for fungi of all sorts.  Last year I came across a variety known as 'turkey tails', which seem to grow all during the warmer months and are very beautiful as they go about consuming dead branches and tree-trunks.  Just the other day I happened on some fungi that were growing smack dab in the middle of the trail--telling me that they had basically sprung up overnight--and the cluster was exactly the color of 'cheese puffs'.  I didn't feel inclined to give them the taste test, however.  Pat told me that this variety is called the "lobster mushroom", and it IS edible depending on what and where it is growing. As she said this, I was mentally crossing it off my list of possible forest treats. But, it did look a lot like cheese puffs.

As I walked on one of our favorite trails, I saw a beautifully formed, large snow-white mushroom.  "Snow white", being just my descriptor for them, not an allusion to Disney's character.  There was a smallish capped shroom the other day that was British soldier red...and as it enlarged it became a warm, beautiful brown.  I also came across some large flat-topped fungi that are dead ringers for pancakes....until you turn them over, of course.  We need a little rain to 'plump up' the duff of the forest floor and sprout a new crop.  My wife gave me several mushroom books last year, but I will not know as much as Pat does anytime soon.

Mostly, I just like seeing the amazing diversity of these living plant-forms that burst forth in a day, and then either get eaten by the critters, or simply dissipate a day or two later. 

1 comment:

Teresa Evangeline said...

Nummy. Nice post. Nothing better than wild mushrooms...if you know what you're doing, of course. I have often picked honey caps in the early fall - wonderful sauteed - and once dried a large glass jar-full. They really gain intensity in flavor when dried. I also love an orange mushroom, called a chicken or sulphur shelf. But, this is one you do have to be cautious of, as to where it grows and when, oak trees being the preferred host. They are better than any candy.
Absolutely delicious.