Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Mushrooms in January?

I mentioned that if you keep an eye out, you might be lucky enough to come across some oysters. Well sure enough I was driving along and spotted a familiar shape at the foot of a tree off the side of the road.

I pulled over and took a few photos of the clusters.

A closer view...
the underside of one...

They are browner than I normally find and they were very, very waterlogged from a full night of thunderstorms, so I didn't pick any to bring home. I still am not 100% certain they were oysters since I could not take a spore print. Even if they were they were, I still probably would have left them since they were a little older than I like. Check out for more specifics about oyster mushrooms.

At first I thought they were clusters of honey mushrooms (
Armillaria mellea) which are found around here in late summer and fall. [see for more information on honey mushrooms]. Upon closer inspection they were missing the rings around the stalks and other tell-tale signs of honeys. I have been told by other hunters that oysters often look like honeys after they freeze once or twice.

It just goes to show you that a few warm days and a little moisture
(or in this case a lot) and you can satisfy your taste for wild mushrooms even in the dead of winter.

Monday, January 07, 2008

In 2008 I resolve... work more on this blog.

I wanted to apologize for my lack of posts of late. With the cold weather, snow and ice I try not to think of mushroom hunting too much. Unless I am cooking some of the ones I preserved from last spring. This is also my first blog and so I am not used to regularly musing over mushrooms, but I resolve to do better.

I may only write one or two entries these first few months, but expect regular reports to pick up again in March as the season approaches.

Something to keep you busy in winter that will prepare you for the warmer months is to learn your trees. Mainly the softwoods like cottonwood, ash, elm, birch, popplar, etc. Though I have found places where morels prefer hardwoods such as hickory and cherry. Other trees such as oak can be useful for finding chanterelles and hen of the woods. All in all knowing your trees goes hand in hand with finding mushrooms.

Learn to recognize trees in winter by their branch shape and bark. This can be useful as the trees are just budding. Also, you can scout out new areas for likely suspects in winter to keep the searching to a minimum during the season.

A few good places to start to learn trees in relation to morels and other mushrooms are:

If you do happen to be out in the woods in the thaws between the snow and ice, be on the lookout for oyster mushrooms. I have found them in all months of the year. All it takes is some moisture follwed by a warm day or two. Please let me know if you do come across them. Always love to hear about the hunt/finds.