Wild Mushroom Hunting in Oregon

Wild Mushroom Hunting in OregonOregon's wet, green forests are renowned for their mushrooms, so much so that mushroom picking is a commercial industry in the state. The edible fungi also draw mushroom lovers and hiking enthusiasts alike deep into the Oregon woods in search of tasty wild food that is quite different from anything found on supermarket shelves. However, mushroom hunting in Oregon demands foreknowledge, as misidentification can have lethal consequences.

Chanterelles

Chantrelles in forest

These mushrooms are identified through their resemblance to a funnel or trumpet. Most have an orange-yellow color, but there is also an edible variety that is gray-black. Chanterelles are usually between 1 and 6 inches in both height and width. The poisonous jack-o-lantern, however, resembles the chanterelle, so great care must be taken in proper identification. Turn the mushroom over and look under the cap. If the cap is smooth or has a tangle of blunt ridges, the mushroom is safe to eat. The jack-o-lantern's ridges will be straight, well-defined and have a sharp edge. Chanterelles are found on the floor of hardwood forests between summer and autumn. Siuslaw National Forest is an excellent location for hunting chanterelles. A mushroom-hunting trip in the national forest is free for hikers who are incidental collectors and making personal use of the mushrooms, but commercial hunters need a permit. Like most mushrooms, collect chanterelles by cutting them with a long, thin knife from a point just slightly underneath the dirt, so as to leave their underground structure intact. This helps ensure that the mushroom will grow back in subsequent years.

Boletes

Another mushroom found in Oregon is the bolete. Imagine a hamburger bun on top of a pestle and you have the appearance most varieties of the bolete, which can be up to 10 inches in both width and height. These grow on the floors of Oregon's pine forests during the summer and autumn, although they can be tricky mushrooms to hunt. Some boletes are poisonous, so avoid any mushroom of this type with red or orange pores. Second, many boletes are edible but taste terrible. These are hard to separate from the more flavorful varieties; the best way to check is to take a taste in the field. If the bolete has a slimy layer on top of the cap, this needs to be peeled away as it can cause diarrhea.

Morels

Morels are a classic choice for Oregon mushroom hunters, for what Mother Earth News described as their "earthy, nutty, steak-like flavor" and because they are easy to identify. Several varieties of morels are found in Oregon, including the Fuzzy Foot and the North American Yellow, according to the MushroomExpert.com. A morel looks like a mottled sponge stuck on top of a white stalk and can grow to be up to one foot tall. The cap can range in color from a light tan to gray-black. There are mushrooms called false morels that strongly resemble this type of mushroom, but these are easily identified and separated. Simply cut open any morel before eating it. If the mushroom has an empty cavity inside the cap it is the real thing and will not poison you. Morels prefer the damp conditions that are common in Oregon's lowland forests, especially on and around river banks, and the morel season is between spring and early summer.

Matsutakes (pictured above)

Matsutake mushrooms are known for what Pacific Rim Mushrooms described as their "sweet and spicy" fragrance. The matsutake is a small, white, almost featureless mushroom. These mushrooms grow around the roots of a variety of tree types, such as fir, oak, hemlock and pine, and are usually found under a thin layer of dirt, leaves and other debris. They are found in most Oregon forests, such as the Siuslaw, Deschutes, Ochoco and Fremont-Winema National Forests. To hunt for these mushrooms, look for telltale bumps in the ground among the roots of the aforementioned trees, and then gently search for the mushrooms with your fingers. Matsutake season lasts through the autumn and into the first frosts of winter.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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