Category Archives: Wild mushrooms

An interesting foray

I'm still not sure of these, and I threw them out last night.

It’s been a while since I updated, chiefly because I’ve not been out too much, and my recent forays have been fruitless.  I was disappointed to have come up entirely blank in terms of chanterelles, though, admittedly, I didn’t get out in late June, and may have missed my best opportunities.  However, a bumper crop of mosquitoes was very de-motivating.

I sallied forth yesterday, with some interesting – albeit inedible – results.  Today is another beautiful day, and I plan to visit some spots in southern Wisconsin to see what I can see.

Yesterday I went through the wood near my home.  It’s a varied wood – a scrubby boarder of elm, cherry and a lot of junk (buckthorn, boo) ringing more mature growths of conifers and oaks.  In the conifer grove I spotted a bunch of russet-topped, yellowy-gold mushrooms growning from dead wood.  They had off-set stems, and grew in clusters.  But they weren’t chanterelles. Oysters, maybe?

The mystery mushrooms.

The mystery mushrooms were plentiful, and smelled really good – rich and mushroomy, not at all foul or unpleasant.  They were meaty, fresh and substantial. I stuck a few in the bag to take home to ID.

You'll forgive me for first thinking these were oysters.

The spore print was clear and vivid.

I tried to ID these, and I believe it’s a Velvet Footed Pax.  There appears to be some debate over whether the genus is Paxillus or Tapinella, but all guides I consulted agreed on the species: atrotomentosa.  The spore print was golden yellow, turning brownish when I left the cap on the paper for hours.   And the fat, brown, fuzzy stem on larger specimens was distinctive.   It was pretty clear I had a big batch of inedible mushrooms!  Into the trash they went.

While in the woods, I also decided to try to find the spot where I had found some very expired but at one point ginormous-puffballs-of-some-stripe very early this spring.  I bumbled around and eventually hit the jackpot.  These monsters were enormous – the size of good size watermelons!

Immense, and aged, puffballs. I am not sure of the species.

This was a good sized cluster, and they were aged.  However, I couldn’t resist cutting into one, using a sharp broken stick. It appears that the insides were once white.  Were these giant (delicious, edible) puffballs?  I don’t know.  But I will be checking this spot earlier next year.

Another cluster of big puffballs, species TBD.

First Real Foray – 2011

No mushrooms today, but my luck is still better than this deer's.

Last week I gained permission to hunt in a wood near my home, and today I went on a recon mission to scout my new mushrooming domain.  And while I found numerous polyporus squamoses (also called pheasant back or dryad’s saddle) just starting to fruit, I saw nary a morel.  I knew that it’s still a bit early, it’s not been quite warm enough.

Polyporus squamosus, just starting to fruit. Common names include Pheasant Back or Dryad's Saddle

That didn’t stop me from toting a couple bags with my in my pockets.  You know.  Just in case.

Despite being shutout today, I’m very excited about my new hunting grounds. The terrain is rolling, and a nice mix of deciduous and conifers, with lots of elm and ash, and lots of trees in various stages of life, death and decay.

A promising section of The Woods.

There are a few oaks, but because the forest I hunt in Wisconsin is primarily oak, I’m happy to have a different environment available to me.

I’m in a bit of a dither, I’ll admit.  Temperatures are going to be spotty this week, between the mid- and high 50’s.  Maybe by the latter part of the week, we’ll see the morels pop.  Fingers crossed!

Unidentified: whitish tree-dweller with broad stem

I have no idea what species these mushrooms represent.  And I wish 1) that I knew and 2) that the variety is edible because last fall these things were  growing all over the elm trees in my yard, and in the wood ringing my house.

These pictures are from late in the year – October, I believe, and after we had some frost.  I’ll pay more attention this year, because I have no doubt I’ll see them again.

They’re big and meaty.  A really solid mushroom.  Anyone care to point me in the right direction?

Here’s what I know:

  • Whitish cap, with distinctive crackling across the top.
  • Pale amber gills that do not extend down the stem.
  • Big, burly stem that has a bulbous flare the bottom.
  • Irregular shape – they don’t seem to be uniformly round.
  • However, the stem is pretty much centered.  They are  (very sadly) not oyster mushrooms. Very sadly.
  • They appear to grow singly.  I have not seen clusters of them.  (I have seen clusters, they grow in small clumps and singly.)
  • These mushrooms grow on living trees, well off the ground (eye level, and upward.)

I’ve identified these mushrooms – they are Elm Oysters, edible but not super choice.  They’re good steamed and then pickled, as they have a firm texture that holds up to that treatment.   Note that these are best young, and the pictures in this post show aged specimens.  As always, thoroughly identify mushrooms before eating!


Friend or foe?


An American Parasol mushroom. I think.

Early last fall I found a stately white mushroom sprouting from a fallen oak tree.  It had some berry seeds (wild cherries?) lodged on its cap, possibly dropped by squirrels dining in the canopy above.

The prior week, I had seen a snowy, glowing forest fungi. I am pretty sure that was a fabled Destroying Angel, which, as you might guess from the name, doesn’t agree with human digestion. At all. I didn’t get a picture.  It was beautiful, and weirdly tempting.  But I knew better.

A distinctive raised 'button' in the center of the cap *may* indicate this is a Parasol mushroom.

Now standing in front of another whitish mushroom, I was sure I was looking at something different.  I’m pretty sure it was some form of Parasol mushroom.  It had a distinct button in the middle of its cap, which was raised, and darker than the rest of the cap.  It had the characteristic bulbous flare at the bottom of the stem. Unlike the Destroying Angel from the prior week, it wasn’t snowy white.  But that really is meaningless – a rainstorm can sully a pristine specimen, which is one reason why I don’t go just by color alone.

A better look at the mystry mushroom's gills.

I’m fairly sure it was a Parasol.   But I left it behind.  It wasn’t terribly fresh, it was the only mushroom I saw that day, and, well, I wasn’t sure.

Had there been a few, I would have collected some, and I would have identified them rigorously with spore prints and other criteria.  I know where that log is.  Maybe a cluster of Parasols will await my definitive identification there this fall, giving me another chance.  But I’ll probably pass on them this year, too.