Has the state shutdown got you pining for a myco-fix? You’re not alone! Maybe this post from the American Mycoflora Project (and accompanying resource list) will help:
contributed by OMS Board Member Bryan Lewis
Springtime stirs joy in the hearts of Ohio foragers. Every new patch of green and each new tree bud and flower quickens the pulse with anticipation of bounties of wild edibles to come: nettles, ramps, and–especially–morel mushrooms. And extra-especially, the yellow morel.
Morels are delicious, but I think the main source of passion and desire among foragers is their elusiveness. They have a relatively short and somewhat variable fruiting season. Morels have a way of surprising us by changing fruiting locations and sometimes growing in unexpected places, but they generally appear in specific habitats (often in association with elm and tulip trees, among others). That means seasoned mushroom hunters find special secret “morel spots” often in state parks and other public forests. The location of these “morel spots” are guarded like nuclear launch codes.
Morel hunting can sometimes seem like a competition. How many “spots” do you know, how often can you get out and check them, how many mushrooms can you collect? I’ve encountered many other foragers in woods with promising habitat. Usually they sheepishly try to act like they’re just hiking (as they walk slowly, slightly hunched over, staring at the ground).
That brings me to this spring, where I’ve been hearing stories of a bumper morel crop and seeing online photos of people with laundry baskets filled with yellow morels. But I’ve been unable to get out as much as usual in Ohio this spring. The first time I made it to my favorite spot (late April) I spent hours searching and found…nothing. That is, nothing morel-wise, but I saw many mushrooms (fawn mushrooms, collybias, inkys, pheasant’s backs, gallerina, many cup mushrooms) and found plenty of ramps and many beautiful spring flowers (trillium, blue bells, marsh marigold, and many more).
More recently I went out on a rainy, abnormally chilly day in May and found…a stump.
And then…another stump…and another…
Yikes! Too late! The mushroom hunters have cleaned these woods out. Jeez, someone has even cut off all the pheasant’s backs! Boy, the competition is intense this year. As I turn and head back, I try to think of the nice ramps and nettles I’m finding, and of looking forward to the much more interesting summer and fall mushroom seasons, imagining forests full of chanterelles. But at this moment, slightly damp and cold in the middle of the woods, those thoughts seem like shallow consolation. It sure would be nice to find a big yellow morel. It’s easy to get caught up in the treasure hunting mind-set.
And then, just before I get to my car, like a beacon in the forest, I see one. A slightly-past-its-prime-but-still-beautiful yellow morel! I look around carefully, but it’s just this one. Not even any nearby stumps. I briefly think about taking it home and cooking up this one mushroom in a kind of “essence of morel” omelette. But I re-consider and leave it. Let those spores spread a little longer. Who knows, hopefully, a less-experienced forager will find this very mushroom, maybe even their first morel! That nice thought, after all the wet, cold, bounty-less stump finding, helps me remember something that can be easy to forget in the spring. Foraging is not a competition. It’s a state of mind and a way of life.
morel season! (photo credit: Walt Sturgeon)
There will be a number of opportunities this year to participate in bioblitz activities with Ohio Mushroom Society. Bioblitz is an effort to describe as many species as possible at a particular site. The information generated from such efforts is valuable in many ways. It allows property owners to compile a comprehensive list of species which can be helpful in protecting native species, managing invasive species, and planning land management strategies. Participation in a bioblitz helps visitors to the land understand features of that environment, and allows them to contribute to scientific understanding of the ecology. Often people that are knowledgeable in particular areas of science form teams that work together to find and identify as many species as they can.
In the case of our bioblitz activities this year we will foray for mushroom collection and identification as usual at the sites, and then contribute photographs and/or a list of species to the group hosting the bioblitz.
Opportunities to bioblitz this year will be June 14 at Towner’s Woods Park (private property), and June 9, July 13, August 25, September 15, October 13, and November 3 at the Athens district of the Wayne National Forest. Please see the Events page, and contact event leaders for details and to RSVP.
Our first biolblitz of the year attracted over 20 people, and we were able to name or photograph 24 fungal species. We visited a beautiful site at the Wayne National Forest and saw many spring wildflowers, a big box turtle, and lots of birds and insects as well as taking home some mushrooms for dinner. For our second biolblitz, at a different site on the Wayne, 11 people helped to collect and identify 25 fungal species. Our forays were part of a two year effort to document as many species as possible on the Wayne. On both days we had wonderful spring weather, explored new territory, and met new friends on our hikes.
So why not get out in the woods try some bioblitzes this year? This is your chance to contribute to the greater good, meet some kindred spirits, and learn about fungi while practicing our favorite pastime- mushroom hunting!
– Martha Bishop
We get occasional inquiries on recommended field guides which cover our region. Walt Sturgeon has published a new field guide through Ohio University Press which I highly recommend. Here is a link to a recent review from well known nature photographer Ian Adams. – Jerry Pepera
See below for some pictures from the Cinco De Mayo Mini-foray in Richfield.
My son Phil and I take a couple of backpacking trips every year and, usually, we section hike portions of the AT. This year we were somewhat limited on time (long weekend) and decided to hike the gorgeous 30 mile West Rim Trail between Ansonia and Blackwell, PA. This hike has been labelled the “Grand Canyon of the East” and the “Best Hike in Pennsylvania”. I’ve hiked quite a few trails in central and western PA including Minister Creek, North Country Trail, Laurel Highlands, Old Loggers Trail, Black Moshannon, Black Forest trail, Ricketts Glen and Michaux State Forest on the AT near the PA/ Maryland border. The West Rim Trail stands out for its natural beauty and 1,000 foot scenic vistas above the Pine Creek gorge. Hiking in PA is not for everyone as it is very rocky and challenging on your feet. On one of our AT hikes, we met a through hiker that mentioned that if she ever hiked the AT again she would fly over Pennsylvania. Sadly, Ohio doesn’t have a single backpacking trail I can recommend as I would describe them as mostly bulldozer trails that are not worth your time (Wayne National Forest, Zaleski State Forest). At any rate, we hiked the West Rim Trail under some very wet conditions and there was a profusion of pristine mushrooms everywhere we stepped. I’m only sorry I didn’t bring some olive oil and a lightweight frying pan. See below for a sampling of our experience.
For a 3D PhotoSphere of one of the scenic overlooks follow the link below. Once it loads just click on the image and you can scroll/pan around- Jerry Pepera
I thought I would share this very handy beginners key for the Boletes. It was given to me by Ernst Both some years ago and is organized in a clear logical way which I find to be very useful. – Jerry
The summer foray at the Zaleski ODNR complex was a great success in spite of the lack of moisture and very hot and humid weather. See below for some pictures from the event. Look for a complete write-up in the next edition of the newsletter. – Jerry
Where Can I Hunt Mushrooms?
This is the third most common question that we at the Ohio Mushroom Society receive, right after “What kind of mushroom is this?” and “Can I eat it?”. These are all very good questions, but often the answers are not simple.
Regarding foraging places, OMS volunteers work very hard to establish good relationships with public and private landholding institutions, and private landowners. Some of these relationships take years to mature to the point where we are allowed to conduct a one-time, or even periodic forays, in exchange for the knowledge of species diversity that the landowners gain regarding their properties. This trust can be instantly broken by rogue individuals using these properties as their “own” mushroom spot.
Imagine a motorist with a flat tire stuck in front of your house. Decent human being that you are, you ask if you can help. They have a spare, but no jack and no tools in the trunk. Of course, you open your garage and allow them to borrow yours. Now, how would you feel the next time you are barbecuing in the back yard, hear clanging and rustling in your garage, and after investigating, see the same individual helping themself to your tools to change their oil?!
So, Rule Number One of mushroom hunting is NO POACHING. Please forage ONLY on properties where you currently have permission.
If you decide to take a risk and poach anyway, you DO NOT have permission from the Ohio Mushroom Society. You DO NOT “know” any of our board members, or previous foray hosts. Can you believe that a couple individuals, when confronted on private property, actually had the nerve to name-drop on an innocent gentleman who gave his personal time to provide an interesting and informative cultivation program to our members?! This type of behavior will get you banned from the OMS.
What’s the harm? There’s plenty for everyone!! I’m not cutting down the “tree”, just harvesting some “fruit”. If you are convinced that your actions are sustainable and that your activities do no harm, then do what we do and approach the landowner honestly and ask for permission. Provide your reasoning. Give them your name and contact information, and sign a waiver if asked.
So where can you hunt mushrooms without asking first? In Ohio, the answers are our State Forests (“State Forest” is part of the property name), the Wayne National Forest, and our State Wildlife Management Areas (“WMA” is part of the property name).
Where can you likely hunt, with advance permission? Our Ohio State Parks (many, but not all, allow hunting, foraging for mushrooms, berry picking, etc.); your local city park; and cemeteries (the older and more derelict the better!). Simply call first.
Collecting mushrooms and other living things is FORBIDDEN in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park; regional park districts (such as Cleveland Metroparks, Lake Metroparks, Summit MetroParks, Geauga Park District, etc.); Ohio State Nature Preserves (“Nature Preserve” is part of the property name); private residential camps and retreat centers (such as Camp Asbury and Boy Scout/Girl Scout camps), private Arboreta (Holden, Dawes, etc.); and University properties (such as Squire Valleevue and Valley Ridge Farms).
Why does it have to be this way? Ohio is 44th in the nation with just 4.2 percent of our land in the public domain; 95.8 percent is all private property. Public land includes highway right-of-ways! So our tiny public properties hosting millions of visitors each year can’t possibly sustain all of our wants for free food, free landscaping rocks, free pets, or free flowers. And private landowners have a right to maintain the resources on their properties for themselves or their paying guests/clients/students. They have a right to protect themselves from lawsuits by people falling down their hillside, or drowning in their lakes.
So please, ask first. Help us keep OMS a respected organization. When we all act to keep our actions sustainable, we will continue to be welcomed. Thanks!!
by Debra Shankland, OMS president
16 April 2018