Mushroom Hunt

This summer, I took you on a nature walk and a wildflower hunt.

Now that we’re midway through the season, I wanted to show you the joy of mushroom hunting.

Personally, I think mushrooms are one of the weirdest, most otherworldly of nature’s creations and I love finding them.

Wild mushrooms have many magical associations, especially with woodland spirits in European pagan traditions.  They are endlessly featured in fairy tales and folklore.

It’s easy to see why.

Unlike a flower or a tree, the progress of which can be observed incrementally over weeks, months or even years to anyone paying attention, mushrooms seemingly appear out of nowhere, and then disappear just as quickly. There’s a mysterious quality to the “magic” suddenness of their arrival and departure that makes any woodland feel enchanted and mystical.

Next time it rains, go for a walk in the woods and make yourself familiar with the local mushrooms.

(But for goodness sake, don’t eat them if you don’t know what you’re doing!  Some are extremely poisonous.  If you are lucky enough to know an experienced herbalist, ask him or her which ones are safe to use.)

I am new to mushroom identification, so if any of these are misidentified, please feel free to let me know!

Chanterelle Mushroom

(Above)    With its brightly colored, striking sunset hue, these mushrooms jumped out at me right away. I am pretty sure they are chanterelles, which are very common on the East and West Coasts.   If they are chanterelles, they are supposed to be a culinary delicacy and have anti-inflammatory properties.  But I’m not confident enough to fry them up and eat them.

Because they could also be highly toxic jack-o-lanterns.

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This white one is pretty weird looking with the warts and all.  I would really like to know if someone can tell me what this is for sure.

I’m almost positive it is some kind of amanita, but that doesn’t really narrow it down.

My best guess is amanita cokeria, which are inedible at best.

But they kind of look like amanita muscaria var. alba, which are hallucinogenic.

We won’t be eating them to find out, though.

Because they could be Amanita pantherina, also called Death Angels, which are fatally poisonous.

Are you noticing a pattern here?

Mushrooms either seem to be useful, medicinal and super fun, or extremely toxic and deadly, and it is really hard to tell if you’re not careful.

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This next one I am actually pretty confident about.  The pinkish red color is distinctive.  There aren’t too many like this in the region.  I think these are russulas, but I’m not sure which kind.  Some russulas are edible and have anti-oxidant properties.  They certainly are pretty!

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I’m 99% sure this is Lactarius piperatus or milk caps.  Milk caps have anti-viral properties.

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I have no idea what these are.  Feel free to take a stab if you know.

Sources:

Mother Nature Network

Eat Fungus

Rogers Mushroom

Windows on the Natural World

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