Mushroom fanatics, called mycophiles, head to the woods this time of year to collect bucket-loads of mushrooms. The fungi come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. Some of them are fabulous to eat while others are toxic. It’s important to know the difference before you pick, cook and eat them. For example, King Boletes, which look like pancakes on a stick, are great to eat. Fly agaricas, those pretty red ones with white spots, can be deadly.
Even if you don’t like mushrooms, they’re fun to look at. On our walks, Annie and I are seeing boletes, russelas, chanterelles, amanitas, and other mushrooms. (Actually, I’m seeing them. I was looking at a new patch of mushrooms yesterday when Annie almost took my leash-holding hand off streaking after a cat.) Along the edge of one neighbor’s yard, a crop of mushrooms that look just like oyster crackers appeared overnight. I just want to dig in with a spoon, but I know better. Never eat mushrooms raw and never eat them if you don’t know whether they’re safe. Plus my neighbor might think I’d lost my mind.
A good pocket guidebook is David Arora’s All That the Rainfall Promises and More. Arora was the keynote speaker at last week’s festival. His book is full of great color photos and descriptions of all kinds of mushrooms.
Around here, the Lincoln County Mycological Society meets the second Saturday of the month in Otter Rock. Call 541-765-3191 for information. You can also learn more about mushrooms through the North American Mycological Association, http://www.namyco.org/.