Sunday, October 10, 2010
All It takes Is One Good Tree
Although it has been dry, most polypores like the hen of the woods mushroom (grifrola frondosa) are still going like gangbusters because they get moisture from the roots and trees. I had been finding dry one earlier this week, but after Mr. Rogers, a local hunter reported finding many fresh ones on Saturday, I decided to give it another go.
I din't see much at first. Everything was really dry. However, every now and then I would see a fresh rooting polypore or rosy russula so things looked good. I was walking along ridges off a main trail and I paying attention to trees, so I quickly got off track and just as I was turning back to retrace my steps to the trail I saw this little guy.
This is the first year that I have been paying attention to the actual type of oaks, and all but one of the hens I have found have been on types of red oaks. However, this one was on a different type of tree. It was a broad leaf, heck I don't even know if it was an oak. but it sure was a nice fresh hen.
After that I looked around there a little more but seeing nothing I headed back to find the trail and continue on my intended path. I was following in the footsteps of Mr. Rogers. He said he had only walked about half of the trail and after seeing this photo of a dead tree with 8 giant hens around it, 5 of which were too old that he left them behind, I just had to see it.
I never did see that tree. I did see a few other stumps that he had left behind. And I checked every dead tree I saw, but still nothing. After a while, I was a good mile down the trail and was beginning to wonder if he had picked them all. But soon enough I came around a corner and saw this tree.
When Mr Rogers and I walked this area back in July looking for chanties and other edibles, I had found and been carrying that grate for a bit. I sat it down next to that big oak, saying that this looked like a good hen tree. If only I had gotten there a few weeks sooner. Still I was happy because I knew where I should check next fall.
By this time I was dragging, the trial I was on goes along bluffs along a creek but it goes up and down all the time on rough and rocky terrain. However, I knew of one more large oak about 200 yards down the trail that had lost its top (a sure sign that some disease probably fungus, was working its way around). After all, hen of the woods are parasites as well as saprophytes. So, I decided to go a bit further and see if it had anything.
Boy am I glad I did.
A glorious hen tree, with seven real beauties around it. Just like in spring, during morel season, when it comes to hens, sometimes all it takes is one good tree.
It had clearly spored out, as you can tell by the white on the fronds and on the leaves underneath it. It was just starting to yellow along the edges, but it was very fresh. These are fine to eat, but I like to eat the fresher ones and so I dry these out for use all year long.
Here is a nice fresh one growing up amongst the plants.
They really are a pretty mushroom when you take a closer look.
This was my favorite view. Only after I picked them all and had three grocery sacks with around 30 pounds did I remember the arduous mile trek up and down, up and down, up and down, back to the car. Although my legs ached when I finally got home, It was well worth the trip.
Don't let the dry weather keep you from getting out. If you want some hens, get out there , walk a trail, and check those oak trees. You may surprised by what you find.