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Making Mushroom Merry

Stereum hirsutum, Anderson River Park, Anderson (12/21/18) Gabriel Leete

As the last days of 2018 are waning, mushroom hunters are making merry where winter rains have fallen.

Shasta Cascade color spotter Gabriel Leete found these fungi while foraging along the Sacramento River in Redding at the McConnell Arboretum and Gardens and in Anderson at the Anderson River Park.

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Walking Right Past Them

Amanita Muscaria, Patrick’s Point State Park, Trinidad (12/9/18) Gabriel Leete

If you’re not attentive, it’s easy to walk right past mushrooms.

However, as Gabriel Leete shows in this collection, when you do, you’re missing a beautiful aspect of late fall color, as their color and form are endlessly fascinating. 

Gabriel works at the California Welcome Center in Anderson (I-5, south of Redding). Just north of the Welcome Center is Anderson River Park where Gabriel often looks down to find mushrooms, though Gabriel also treks to the North Coast to discover them pushing up through the detritus.

Mushrooms appear on forest floors, soon after it rains. They grow quickly because rather than use cell division, as animals and most plants do, they employ cell enlargement, allowing mushrooms to grow as rapidly as they can take in water.

Within hours, a mushroom can grow from something the size of a pinhead to the Cortinarius that Gabriel is holding below.

Gabriel Leete admires a variety of Cortinarius, Patrick Point State Park, Trinidad (12/9/18) Self-portrait

Gabriel has been hunting mushrooms for nearly two decades and knows his fungi. He’s the first to say, that one person’s edible chanterelle might, upon closer inspection, be a poisonous variety of Cortinarius. So, expertise and caution are required when adding wild mushrooms to your diet.

However, he also believes mushrooms have gotten a bad rap. They’re full of B vitamins, gmushrooms.com writes, “especially niacin and riboflavin, and rank the highest among vegetables for protein content. But because they are low in fat and calories, Western nutritionists mistakenly considered them of no food value (a fresh pound has only about 125 calories). Yet in dried form, mushrooms have almost as much protein as veal and a significant amount of complex carbohydrates called polysaccharides. Shiitake mushrooms are among the most delicious & very nutritious.”

Because they grow from decaying matter, they’re all somewhat disgusting, but also things of beauty. And, of course, they can be deadly.

In 2012, The London Telegraph reported that 18 Italian mushroom hunters, “died in just a 10-day period. Many of them had forgone proper footwear, clothing and equipment and died after steep falls down Alpine slopes.” One of them was a 65-year-old woman who fell 40 feet to her death near the Swiss border.

My sordid attempt at humor aside, while there is the hazard of hunting them on wet, slippery slopes, there is also the possibility of eating a poisonous variety. Of one thing is certain, there’s no sitting on a fence when judging a mushroom, even though they often do. 

Here are some of the beauties and beasts, Gabriel has found on recent walks through the woods.

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Water-born Color

Armillaria Mellea, Anderson (11/30/18) Gabriel Leete

Late November rain pushed up mushrooms across Upper California, this past week.

Shasta Cascade color spotter Gabriel Leete found these fungi near the Sacramento River at Anderson River Park. Gabe reported previously that mushroom hunting had been disappointing so far this autumn, but now that rains are falling, mushrooms are flourishing in northstate forests. 

California Welcome Center, Anderson (11/30/18) Gabriel Leete
Sacramento River, Anderson River Park, Anderson (11/30/18) Gabriel Leete
Sacramento River, Anderson River Park, Anderson (11/30/18) Gabriel Leete
  • Mushrooms, Anderson – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Pushups in the Woods

Amanita spp, Anderson (11/15/17) Gabriel Leete

Recent rains have caused mushrooms to push up out of the detritus, as Gabriele Leete found in Anderson.

Amanita, Anderson (11/15/17) Gabriel Leete

Split-gill mushroom, Schizophyllum commune, Anderson (11/15/17) Gabriel Leete

Among the mushrooms emerging are Amanita, among the most poisonous mushrooms on Earth, the most toxic of which cause liver failure and death.

There are 600 varieties of Amanita, including a few edible ones, though eating them is like playing Russian roulette with five bullets in a six-shooter.

Split-gill mushrooms, or Schizophyllum commune, are the only known type of mushroom to retract when touched. They are found on decaying trees during dry periods following a rainfall. Its beautiful gills or “gillies” resemble coral.

Honey fungus, Armillaria mellea, Anderson (11/15/17) Gabriel Leete

Honey fungus, Armillaria spp, Anderson (11/15/17) Gabriel Leete

Sticky when wet, the honey fungus, Armillaria mellea, grows around the base of trees it infects. The mushroom is a plant pathogen that causes root rot in many of the plants it infects, causing discolored foliage, dieback of branches and death, according to Wikipedia.

Psathyrella is a smaller version of Psathyra, Greek for “Friable.” However, do not mistake these for being “fryable,” as they are toxic.

Psathyrella are in a large genus of mushrooms, containing some 400 types, including CoprinellusCoprinopsisCoprinus and Panaeolus.

Psathyrella spp, Anderson (11/15/17) Gabriel Leete

OK, you get the idea, they’ve all been given Greek names. Aside from that, what also is common about Psathyrella is that they’re boring.

They are often “drab-colored, difficult to identify, and inedible,” Wikipedia reports, “So they are sometimes considered uninteresting,” perhaps that’s what makes them so fascinating to Gabriel and me.

No, we’re not Greeks, just geeks.

Mushrooms, Shasta Cascade – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

 

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Shasta Cascade A Harvest of Events

Mt. Shasta, Upper Sacramento River (10/21/16) Philip Reedy

Patchy color is appearing early across the Shasta Cascade, providing opportunities to harvest an autumn drive with a car show, road race, trout derby and all sorts of festivals (music, food, and fun). Here are some of the events that will be happening up north on this coming and the following weekend.

Oct. 6

– Olive Festival, Corning Car Show

 

Oct. 7  

– Bizz Johnson Marathon  ( Susanville)

– Harvest Moon Liberty Fest ( Anderson River Park )

– Johnny Appleseed Days . ( Paradise )

– Manton Apple Festival ( Manton )

– Salmon Festival (Weaverville)

 

Oct. 14 

– Apple Harvest Festival . ( Mc Cloud) .

– Shasta Lake Trout Derby

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Autumn Spore-t: Mushroom Hunting

Chicken of the Woods, Anderson (10/31/16) Gabriel Leete

Chicken of the Woods, Anderson (10/31/16) Gabriel Leete

A favorite northwest autumn sport is mushroom hunting.

Gabriel Leete of Redding sends these photographs of mushrooms found exploring the Lower Sacramento River, in Anderson and Redding.

Caution and expert knowledge is required, as some species are both poisonous and edible. You don’t want to make a mistake, by thinking you have the edible variety, when in fact it’s poisonous.

Chicken of the Woods (seen above) [Laetiporus] is “a very brilliant spp. of fungi,” Gabriel reports, “As the nomenclature indicates, it is bright yellow & orange (sulphur colored).  And the common name is due to the whitening of the flesh when cooked and has somewhat of a chicken and mushroom flavor.  It is used by vegans and vegetarians in lieu of chicken.”

Agaricus, Anderson (10/31/16) Gabriel Leete

Agaricus, Anderson (10/31/16) Gabriel Leete

Unidentified, Anderson (10/31/16) Gabriel Leete

Unidentified, Anderson (10/31/16) Gabriel Leete

Earth Star, Anderson (10/31/16) Gabriel Leete

Earthstar, Anderson (10/31/16) Gabriel Leete

The common Agaricus genus contains some 300 members, both poisonous and edible.  Caution is advised.

Earthstar  [Astraeus hygrometricus] is a fascinating mushroom that resembles a globe over a star. They are too tough to be edible, so don’t bother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earthstars have, however, been used by native Americans and Asians medicinally as a salve against burns. The Blackfoot people called them “fallen stars,” considering them to be stars that fall to Earth during supernatural events.

It’s amazing what color you find in autumn, when looking down.