Springtime Stump Huntin’ in Ohio

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.

OMS Membership

Did you know that your Ohio Mushroom Society membership dues were due at the beginning of January, 2020?  It’s not too late to renew, and in fact our treasurer has made it easy for anyone to join or renew at any time.  Just mail a check to Jerry at the address below and he will take of care of everything. (Not a member yet? We’d love to have you join our ranks! You can find the new membership form here; click on the “Join” tab for more information about membership benefits.)

The OMS is a shoestring operation.  All of us on the board are volunteers.  All of the foray planning, the newsletter work, the treasury work, the website maintenance, the hospitality at our major forays–all of it is done by people like you who have a passion for mushrooms.  Your dues pay only for the paper, printing and mailing of The Mushroom Log newsletter, wax bags, paper plates, name tags, speaker and expert mycologist fees and expenses, and other direct foray expenses.  It is a remarkable bargain that we’ve been able to keep dues down to $15/year!

Most of our events for 2020 are currently listed on the Events page of this website.  You may notice that there are no April events planned this year, and that is due to our efforts to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

There will be additions to the foray list in the coming months as some details are worked out and new opportunities arise.  Check it out, save the dates on your calendar, and plan to join us!

-Debra Shankland, OMS Board

Mail your membership check to:
Ohio Mushroom Society
c/o Jerry Pepera
8915 Knotty Pine Ln.
Chardon, OH 44024

Studio 35 in Columbus to screen “Fantastic Fungi”

If you’re in the Columbus area and haven’t yet seen “Fantastic Fungi” (or if you have seen it and just can’t get enough), here’s one more opportunity. ** This is not an OMS event **

Studio 35 Cinema & Drafthouse in Columbus OH will be screening Fantastic Fungi on Saturday March 14th at 1:30 pm. Guests are encouraged to arrive early for a film Introduction by Te’Lario Watkins II from Tiger Mushroom Farms and mingle with reps from Friends of Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks to learn about mushroom hikes & other events!

More information on the event can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/185439222840184/

What is a Bioblitz?

April 14, 2019 Bioblitz on the Wayne National Forest

              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!

May 19, 2019 Bioblitz on the Wayne National Forest

– Martha Bishop

New Book Recommendation – Appalachian Mushrooms: A Field Guide

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

http://ianadamsphotography.com/news/appalachian-mushrooms-a-field-guide-walter-e-sturgeon/

Pheasant’s back jerky recipe

Here is a recipe for a common springtime edible mushroom, cerioporus squamosus or the Pheasant’s back, also called Dryad’s saddle. Although easy to identify, it’s not the tastiest of mushrooms…but with enough soy or barbecue sauce it can be pretty good!

Cerioporus squamosus by Walt Sturgeon

Marinade (adjust to your liking)

2 c. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. olive oil
swig of sesame oil
2/3 c. tamari (soy sauce)
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
Optional liquid smoke

  1. Slice off the tender edge part of the mushroom into 1/2 inch thick slices.
  2. Marinate sliced mushrooms 2 nights in refrigerator.
  3. Arrange pieces on cookie racks and place over cookie sheets to catch drips then bake in 350 degrees F oven for 30 minutes, strips should still be tender.
  4. Cool and then brush w/vegan Worcestershire sauce or barbecue sauce and sprinkle with black pepper to taste.
  5. Place on dehydrator racks and dry for 12-24 hours, but don’t over-dry–leave a bit chewy.