Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mushrooms are up! Hurrah! Hurrah!

The rains have arrived, at least for the short term, and that means the mushrooms are coming out. Walking through the woods, it is a wonderous thrill to see the colorful secrets that emerge from the earthern duft or off of an old tree stump. So, let me introduce you to some of the treasures that are available these days.

There is the chanterelle. A lovely little orange mushroom that has gills that cling to the stem and ride all the way up and out to the edge of the cap. As you can see they are orange (although they do come in white) and are about 1" in diameter and about 1" tall.
You can buy these at Whole Foods or you can pick your own but just watch out for the Jack O'Lantern which resembles the chanterelle, sorta. It is poisonous. By poisonous I mean it can make you sick to your stomach. The JOL grows in clumps and occasssionally glows in the dark if you should be camping out.

Another delectible that can be found these days is the Cracked Bolete.
Bolete's are an interesting breed. Instead of gills they have spongey undersides. These are described as tubes in some books as they contain the reproductive bodies of the mushroom.

As you walk the woods these days, you can find lots of multi-color boletes. There are those that are bi-color, those that are red, blue, green, a color-- fungus come in all colors and in all seasons.

If you want to learn about mushrooms I suggest you join a mushroom club. Here in the northern region of Georgia there is the Georgia Mushroom Club. It meets regularly and takes wonderful hikes. There are special interest groups for growing mushrooms, using mushrooms to dye fabric and to eat mushrooms. You can find them at

Then, further south, in Macon, Chris Matherley, at takes folks on walks to find all kinds of mushrooms and, in particular, Morel mushrooms. Nearly every state in the union has a mushroom club which is a great way to discover these delights of the woods, the lawn, and the trees.

I think next time we should talk about how to determine which mushroom you have found. In the meantime, I suggest you invest in a field guide if this is an area that interests you. The Smith's have a fine one for Southern Mushrooms; and so does National Geographic.

Have a find day in the woods, fields, and wild lands of Georgia!