I’ve just come back from an utterly glorious hike in the Pittsfield State Forest. It was a little over four miles all together, through a nice mix of rugged terrain and rambling foot trails. Though I just intended to hike with my family, it didn’t take me long to start looking for mushrooms.
The first picture I snapped was of a Ganoderma, your run-of-the-mill Artist’s Conk, so named because you can etch drawings into them that will remain when they dry out. It was high up and pretty dried out already, so I didn’t tug it down to doodle on it. Later in the afternoon I did pry one off for this purpose, but it was pretty buggy and gross.
Also in the “not that exciting” category, some Trametes versicolor, aka Turkey Tail Mushrooms.
Despite being a mycological superhero, there are some species I’m not able to identify on sight. That’s why I never feed other people stuff that grows on the ground; Even if I feel pretty safe about it, I’m just not *that* good. For example, here’s a specimen I was less sure about:
I went up to this hoping it was a jelly baby (a very cute fungus indeed), but I know now it isn’t. The waxy body and red stipe lead me to believe it’s a scarlet hood, but I didn’t collect it or take note of what kind of tree it was growing under, so that’s all just guesstimation. For those of you who don’t know, proper fungi identification requires info like gill color, spore print color, stipe (stem) color, cap color, flesh consistency, smell, taste, habitat (down to specifics like nearby trees), and sometimes even spore shape (which requires a microscope) among other things.
I was able to identify the white cheese polypore pretty easily based on scent alone. It’s so sweet! One of the foragers I originally learned from actually called it a “cheesecake polypore”, which doesn’t seem to be the norm…but I think it should be.
The award for pretty picture of the day goes to this Russula, possibly the common and extremely acrid emitica, which had the good fortune of being home to a lovely moth.
There were TONS of that genus to be found. They’re very easy to spot, with their thick gills and stipes that look and feel a lot like chalk. Lactarius can look similar, but all you have to do to a fresh one is bust it open and see if it, you know, lactates. These didn’t. Ergo, Russula.
Lest we forget that mushrooms can be as deadly as they are beautiful, here’s an Amanita (probably a deathcap) that I found. Check out that beautiful veil remnant around the stipe! It’s a perfect specimen.
Last but not least, I did end up finding quite a harvest. I was hoping I’d run into a couple of Oysters, and I did!
I love oyster mushrooms, because they can’t be confused with anything even vaguely poisonous. That, and they’re delicious. In other words, the Feltmans (Feltmen?) shall feast this evening. I plan on sauteing them with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. I haven’t had fresh oyster mushrooms since last fall, so I’m very excited.
To end this meandering, meaningless blog post, I’d like to remind you to always forage with a buddy. Mine is pictured below.