Tenth Issue, November 2002
Published about twice a year from
by Herman Brown
Back to HOMEPAGE
This was another extremely dry
season. However, the areas that had some sort of moisture, either
from underground springs or automatic sprinkling systems, provided us with
a good variety of fungal fruitings. In late October, Cecelia and I
also got to attend the Breitenbush Wild
Mushroom Conference in Oregon and, despite the dry spell there,
saw many different species, more than a few that were new to us.
Since I have become a member of the Mycological
Society of San Francisco (MSSF), I have found lots of material to use
to use in my newsletters. This issue is no exception. The material I included all
came via the MSSF online newsgroup mailings, and is
being used with the author's permission.
If you live near Central or Northern
California, and aren't yet a member, I would strongly suggest
you think about becoming one, as there is lots to share and learn
from the mailings, the members, and from reading the MSSF newsletter, the Mycena
News. The membership includes lots of friendly
individuals, many whom you
will meet at their many mushroom forays.
To find out more information about MSSF and
to how join the society, go to www.mssf.org.
Findings, August to November (top)
Tuesday, August 27: Because
of a recent tip from Mike Wood, that the Sulphur Shelf might be found this
month in the Sierras, we decided to go mushrooming up Yuba Pass, down
Weber Lake Road towards a seepage area.
We rarely find mushrooms at this time of year, probably mostly because we
don't look for them.
But we were pleasantly surprised.
We found many Ganoderma oregonense, one Sulphur Shelf, Laetiporus
sulphureus, four of what seemed to be the Gypsy Mushroom, the Rozites
caparata, some Lactarius, a few Russulas, a huge Boletus, and
some bitter-tasting Boletus.
As we walked along, and also when I got home, I took some pictures, which can be
seen at august-27.htm along with more
of an explanation of the day.
Wednesday, August 28: An
added note regarding the Ganoderma oregonense and the Rozites caparata:
Under the microscope, the spores for the "Rozites" looked just like the description in
David Arora's Mushrooms Demystified. I think I will cook them up
tonight, taste a bit, and see what happens.
I scrambled some eggs this morning with the tender tips
of a rather large G. oregonense, along with some salt, butter, and garlic.
I had sliced it thin across the grain just to make sure it was the most
It still had a very good texture and
tasted great this way. If anyone else experiments with it and comes
up with some good recipes, let me know. I'd like to hear from you.
Sunday, September 1: This afternoon we decided to
see if we could find any Sulphur Shelf or Ganoderma oregonense near the
small lake above Greenville.
We didn't find any of those, but we started
finding some fresh Russula brevipes, var. acrior, those with the
beautiful green-tinged gills. Because this was near the area where I
sometimes find the White Chanterelle (Cantharellus subalbidus), I made a
mental note to return to the same area in mid-October, the time when we
usually find them.
As we walked back towards the truck, we
spotted a small mound along the side of the dirt road. It turned out
to be a few small White Chanterelles. They were very dry, seeming to
contain no moisture, but I took the biggest
anyway. What a surprise! Not only was it a bit early, but it had
been drier there than last year, when I had found no Chanterelles at all.
This encouraged us to start looking more
carefully on the ground, and to check our old Chanterelle spots.
As we walked, we saw more mounds containing
the R. brevipes, and found one of those unusual-looking Gastroboletus
subalpinus, or Gastroid King Bolete.
The cap is the thin covering in the center, and the tip of the bulbous stem is
just barely visible on the lower
right. The rest is the pore surface.
As we walked, we found more mounds, these
all containing small Chanterelles. We then checked all of our old
Chanterelle spots and found a few at each spot.
We brought back enough Chanterelles for a
nice taste at dinner.
Again, what a surprise!
Tuesday, September 3: Late today I decided to go back to the area where I had found the small, dry White
Chanterelles, hoping to find some that were larger and hopefully less dry.
When I got to the area I thought might produce some results, a friend who
lived near the lake came by and wanted to know if I was having any
luck. I said no and asked if he would like to walk along with me.
hoping to at the least show him some mounds.
We saw a few mounds, under which were more of the short-stemmed Russula
which were too dry for me to want to stay where we were.
I then took him to another area where I had found chanterelles in the past, but we
found nothing there.
Then I pointed out an area across the road, saying I thought it looked
like it might be a good spot to hunt. Very soon after we got into the
area, I found a large mound, and brought him over to show him what might
be under it.
I lifted off the duff, and below that were sheets of bark. I lifted
of those and lo and behold, in a little cavity, there was a couple of
good-sized chanterelles. As I cut them out I found a
We didn't find anything more that day other than a large clump of buried
mushrooms that were far too young to ID. I plan to go back in a few
days to see
if they continued to grow any.
I gave him the two larger chanterelles, pointing out their chief
characteristics, and told him how to clean and cook them.
I had already introduced him to the Spring King Boletus that grow near his
residence. This spring he actually found some on his own.
Thursday, September 5:
Today we went
back to Yuba Pass hoping to find more of the Gypsy Mushrooms, but didn't find any. We looked VERY carefully along the
edge of a seepage area and found many types of other mushrooms however.
Not many of each though.
We found a few Suillus, a few red-stemmed
bitter boletes (Boletus rubripes), a few massive boletes that seemed to develop
entirely under ground near the base of conifers, a few more of the
Ganoderma oregonense, several tuberales (probably Deer Truffles), various
gilled mushrooms, a clump of yellow coral mushrooms (Ramaria
a small dried puffball, and another perfectly formed dried puffball (Calvatia
sculpta) for which I took pictures because of its spectacular
display of pyramidal warts.
The weirdest find had to be the
massive boletes, which seemed to be spread all over under the duff,
hugging the ground, but which appeared to have a bulbous base. It
was too hard to collect anything to bring back. It always broke
apart as I tried to lift it out.
In a month we will probably return,
especially if we get some rain in the meantime.
Saturday, September 7:
This afternoon we decided to check out
an area near Canyon Dam, just before Lake Almanor. We didn't see any mounds but brought back 3
Phaeolus schweinitzii to
bring to the upcoming Breitenbush Wild Mushroom Conference in Northern Oregon next
These mushrooms, which look like dark
brown shelf mushrooms, usually growing on the ground (in the roots of
trees), are supposed to be very good for making dyes.
We then went back to the lake above town, to check that clump of mushrooms I had found earlier.
We didn't find the clump, but upon checking our favorite chanterelle spots again, found about a half dozen very dry White Chanterelles.
After we picked the spots again over pretty good, even finding some under piles of sawdust, we tried to find another spot that had produced some a few years ago.
When we got to what looked like the spot, we started looking VERY carefully, and started finding them almost everywhere.
White (stained, not Golden) Chanterelles
None had a very visible mound. Many were found just by moving our hands over the duff. All were very close to the surface, and about 2-3 inches in diameter. When we finally stopped, it almost seemed like we had been in a picking frenzy.
But the cleaned tally only came to 1 1/4 lbs chanterelles. I even washed these under running water, something I would normally NOT do, hoping to gain some moisture. I don't think it affected them very much.
The fall season must be here!
Wednesday, September 11: I had sent the following message to Fred
Stevens and Mike Wood, to see if they could help me with an ID:
Fred Stevens and Mike Wood
I found some mushrooms in a friend's yard,
who lives near Round Valley Lake at 4400 ft, that key out to be the
Marasmius oreades, but are in rather dense clusters, and they do not seem
to have the same odor. Plus, the spore
print is more of a creamy-buff than bright white. They do tend to
grow in rings, with the inside of the rings filled with dead grass.
In the yard when young, they look from the
top like dense clusters of light-colored Lyophyllum decastes, but they
don't seem to have the thick common base like the Lyophyllum.
The cap has an umbo when mature, the gills
are well spaced, not crowded, the apiculate spores are buff-white and not
amyloid, 4-6 x 8-10 microns. The gill shape, cap color and cap size
fits the oreades, as well as the tough,
equal, stuffed stalk.
Have you ever seen them in dense clusters?
I will take pictures of the clusters, if you think it would help.
Individually, they sure look like oreades
to me. Her yard has millions of them.
Any ideas for me? - Herman
Both of them agreed with my ID.
So, they next day, after deciding that they
were the edible Marasmius oreades, I went back, took more
pictures, and gathered many.
I thought the find was so interesting, that
I put the whole story with pictures on the Internet to share at
Wednesday, September 18: I
went back to the place where I found all the Marasmius oreades, and after
filling my basket again, went to another area on the property to check a
couple of mushrooms that had been in a button state a week ago.
They still weren't open, but I took one to
see I could get a spore print (which I couldn't get). It looks like
an Agaricus, no apparent odor, the flesh does not have an odor even when
crushed, the flesh almost turns black slowly when rubbed, it has a felt
ring as described in the Agaricus hordensis, and the cap is covered with
dark brown, almost black scales.
I planned to keep checking the one I left
behind to get a better specimen, including the base of the stalk, and
hopefully to get a spore sprint.
I went back a few more times, took a few
pictures, and they can all be seen at agaricus.htm,
which shows the pinkish, free gills, the scales, and the thick
collar-like ring. After several communications with Fred Stevens,
and after finally noticing a faint phenol odor, I decided it was an Agaricus
praeclaresquamosus, a new one for me.
Monday, September 28: This morning,
a friend called to tell me that the mushrooms growing in his yard were
starting to look large enough to pick. I had told him to call me when they
got about 2 inches in diameter.
These mushrooms were the large clumps of
Lyophyllum decastes we had identified last year, which had overtaken a
large portion of his lawn and had returned about 2 weeks ago.
On the way, I decided to go back to the
lake above town to harvest more Marasmius oreades, and to bring some back
for my friend to taste.
The automatic sprinklers were on, so I only
got about a half-pound. Before I continued down to my friend's
house, I stopped at the other side of the valley to see if any new
chanterelles had appeared. No new chanterelles, but I did find one
pretty large Gastroboletus subalpinus, and one
striking Amanita silvicola. The Gastroboletus was too old to pick.
When I got to my friend's house, we
harvested about a half a pound each of the Lyophyllum for our tables. I told
him how to cook them for his first taste, which I also did for myself when I
got home later, and I thoroughly enjoyed both the taste and texture.
He also showed me some other mushrooms
growing in his yard. One was a small Lactarius deliciosus, and the
other was an unusual Agaricus with the gills still being off-white even after
it had opened up. It later turned out to be a Lepiota naucina, which
it looked like, because it had a faint phenol odor when I crushed the
flesh. I told
him to try the Lactarius but not to expect too much.
The Agaricus I
brought home to try to identify, but I am pretty sure it is an A.
I also gave him my small batch of Marasmius
oreades for his first taste.
There were still plenty of each left in the
two grassy areas, for
Follow up: The next day, I
looked at the few spores I could get from the "Agaricus", under
the highest power of the microscope, and decided that I had a
funny-smelling Lepiota naucina after all. I should have noticed how easily
the stipe separated from the cap, but the slight phenol odor through me
off. The spores were colorless in water, but dextrinoid (turned
reddish-brown) in Melzer's reagent.
Saturday, September 28: Instead of
working in our own yard, Saturday we went to some other yards in town to
harvest our various crops of mushrooms.
The day before, my son-in-law had brought
over a rather large Agaricus augustus, which he found near the spot in his
garden I had found one last year. Saturday morning I went to his
house to see if there were more, found
none, but collected a few Tricholoma imbricatum, which look very tempting
to eat. Not this time.
Then we both went to the yard where we have
been collecting the Lyophyllum decastes and picked a small bunch along with
the darker-capped L. loricatum. I spotted a few Shaggy Manes (Coprinus
comatus) but left them
for the homeowner, as these are
The next stop was the big yard at the home
above town where the large crop of Marasmius oreades were found earlier,
and we collected a good batch of those.
Under a Spruce on the corner of that
property, we found a small patch of what keyed out to be the Clitocybe deceptiva,
but these were all-white and the odor seemed more like maraschino cherries
Later, it the town park, I found a few wormy
Lactarius deliciosus and a few squashed Suillus ponderosus.
At least the yard mushrooms (where the
automatic sprinklers are working) are coming out!
Saturday, October 12:
Friday, 10/11, Cecelia and I went to Yuba Pass for a 2-day campout,
so we could accompany Dr. Dennis Desjardin and some of his mycology
students, on their fall foray there.
I brought along some pictures and samples
to hopefully show to Fred Stevens, but he wasn't there so I showed them to
The pictures included those of the clusters
of Marasmius oreades, an unusual looking Gomphus, and an unidentified
Boletus. He was impressed by the size of the clusters, laughed at
the Gomphus sample I brought with me (it looked
like it had exploded), but couldn't I.D. the Boletus from my pictures.
Basically it was all-yellow except for reddish tones on the lower half of
the stalk, bulbous stalk with a tapered root, no obvious reticulations on
the stalk, slowly bluing flesh, very tiny pores, and tasted when cooked
like a B. appendiculatus. I can't seem to key it out in any of my
I showed him some samples of the red Cortinarius I had found earlier,
which I later decided was a C. phoeniceus var. occidentalis. I will
take those to Maggie Rogers when I meet with her at Breitenbush, along
with a fresh Phaeolus schweinitzii that I just happen to obtain later from
one of the grad students, Denise Gregory, "in exchange" for a
Clitocybe that I had brought her for a current project. I think I
got the better part of that deal.
You can see pictures of the funny-looking
closeups/80491_24a.JPG (side view and
out of focus, but you'll get the idea)
closeups/80491_25a.JPG (view from the
bottom) and the Boletus at:
closeups/MVC-114Fa.JPG (overall view)
closeups/MVC-115Fa.JPG (close-up view
of the top)
closeups/MVC-116Fa.JPG (close-up view
of the stalk with the top removed)
I would appreciate any suggestions on the
Follow-up: After going back to the
same spot to see if I could find a younger specimen of the all-yellow
boletus, I noticed that it had been growing near an old stump. I
found a dried one, took it home, and measured some of the spores.
I had previously asked Fred Stevens, David Arora, and Mike Wood for help
in the ID of the Boletus, and when later I told them about the stump and
the spore size, they all agreed that it was probably a Boletus
orovillus with yellow pores, another new one for me.
By the time I left the group on Saturday
afternoon, Dennis had counted over 60 different species, and I think he
even found a new one to add to his list. All were found in or near
the seepage areas. Cecelia or I helped only locate a few which
included an old dried-up Phaeolus schweinitzii, some Suillus tomentosus, a
nice sample of one Lactarius deliciosus, a couple of clusters of the
ground-inhabiting Pholiota terrestris, a small Suillus
brevipes, an as-yet
unidentified Hygrophorus, and some of the beautiful yellow Pholiota
aurivella group, which was in a stump near the field campus parking lot.
After the foray, I went back to the field
campus and listened as Dennis talked about the different mushrooms. I
learned lots about the terminology used to describe the mushrooms and
their growing habits.
It turned out to be a very enjoyable
weekend, both meeting all the friendly students, and the learning
Friday, October 18:
This afternoon I
went back to the property above Greenville where I had been
finding the large clumps of Marasmius oreades, this time to see if I could
find more of the red Cortinarius.
I did found a few of those, put them in my basket, and decided to check
a ring of greener grass I had noticed earlier in the fall, that was about
feet in diameter, but had yet to produce any fungi.
I immediately noticed several clumps of what looked like all-purple
Cortinarius, but when I picked one, there was no sign of a cortina, and
margin was inrolled. It seems like almost every mushroom on this
grows in tight clumps!
The sizes varied from ¼ to 1½ inch in diameter. I took some of
the different sizes to look closer for any cortina, but found none.
A nice ring of firm, young Blewits (Clitocybe
I cooked up all but the largest two, which I put aside to get a spore
but went ahead ate a few to check the taste. They actually tasted
good, so I cooked them up and they tasted even better.
This may change my past feelings about Blewits. I will most likely
return in about a week to see how much they have grown.
Monday, October 22: I went back to
see if the Blewits had grown much since my last visit to Round Valley and
only picked a few. I also found two yellowish mushrooms with dull
yellow, scaly, viscid when moist, caps that look like they turn tan from
exposure, pale yellow, close adnate gills, white-yellow stipe with scales
on it, and with what looks like veil remnants on the margin of the caps.
Fred Stevens identified them for me from the pictures I sent him as the Armillaria
albolanaripes. I was thrown off originally by what seemed to be a farinaceous
Thursday, October 31: The
temperature in Greenville has been getting colder each day, and on this morning, it got
down to 18F. I think the mushroom season is over up here. But I
decided anyway to go back to the property above town to see if the ring of
Blewits had grown any since I checked them last, and hopefully that they
They hadn't grown very much in those 9
days, but they showed no sign of having been frozen and there was enough
there to fill a small bag, which I did.
Using some advice recently given to me by
Larry Stickney, I sautéed them in butter to later make a cream of
mushroom soup. DELICIOUS!
We also had just returned home from the
Breitenbush Conference, and the web page I made for our experiences there
can be viewed at: breitenbush.htm.
Thursday, November 21:
the recipe I just received (below), I decided to go back to my Shaggy Mane
spot to see if I could find enough of them to try the recipe.
The ones I found hadn't seemed to have
grown any in four days, probably because of the freezing nights, so I
picked as many as I could, removing as much of the stem as possible.
Some looked like they had been frozen, and
most were small buttons only about as large in diameter as a quarter.
I figured they wouldn't last much longer in the duff, as a few of the
buttons had already started to turn black.
I still got about 4 cups worth, enough for
a good taste treat and left-overs for inclusion in a meal later. WE
plan to use them in our Thanksgiving Wild
We both thought that they tasted great
broiled this way, had a great texture, and I now have a greater respect
for these mushrooms.
I think this REALLY means the end of
the season at this elevation (unless we get some warmer weather).
Thanks again Larry, for the recipe.
From: Laurence Stickney
To: Herman Brown
Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Subject: Re: Shaggy Manes
Here's another scrumptious Coprinus recipe:
Cut C. comatus in half lengthwise.
Lay a long piece of cheese into each open half.
Lay in as well a sliver of butter atop the mushroom.
Place under hot broiler until golden brown, turning once.
Fast, easy, and a spectacular treat.
There are many possible variations for
whatever pleases you!
Monday, November 11: We've already
had about 4" of rain since last Wednesday, so I have been out looking
for some signs of fungal growth. The only mushrooms I found so far
were a large bunch of Shaggy Manes (Coprinus comatus) near Lake Almanor
(4400 ft), in an old staging area that always seems to produce Shaggy
Manes about this time.
The rest of the forest was still pretty dry
just a few inches below the top of the duff. I had scraped a small
area away to see if there were any signs of mycelium, and what I saw
looked like a light dust.
More rain is expected, and I am sure the
moisture will slowly penetrate the duff, so I will be checking
I haven't looked very carefully along
Highway 89, along the stretch that also seems to produce a crop of Shaggy
Manes every winter, but will probably do so soon.
and the Coastal Indians (top)
The following are reply messages from
fellow MSSF members, in response to the following question from Jim Maley
to Mike Wood and
posted to the group:
Did our Bay Area Native Americans, who were
great acorn gatherers, every collect and eat mushrooms?
Nobody, so far, has been able to answer this question and cannot find
anything on it. Does your fine group have anything on this ethno
botany related subject?
Thanks, Jim Maley
FFSC & UC EX. Master Gardener Santa Clara County
Here are most of the responses (by
permission from the individual writers):
From Peter Werner:
Ethno mycology is
one of my favorite topics! Edible mushroom gathering has definitely been
recorded among California Indian groups. Getting information specifically
about the Native American groups of the Bay Area (that is, the various Coast
Miwok and Ohlone bands) is a bit more problematic, since the Spanish rounded
them up, forced them into the missions, and effectively destroyed their
culture before very much was known about them.
The Pomo are a group that lives very near to
the Bay Area, and the book Kashaya Pomo Plants by J. Goodrich, et al.
records eight species of mushrooms gathered and ate by them, and two that
were rightly or wrongly considered poisonous:
- Baked on hot rocks or in the oven or fried.
- Plant top cooked on a flat hot rock and eaten.
- Cooked on hot stones, baked in the oven or fried.
- Baked on hot stones or fried with onions.
- Baked on hot stones, in the oven or fried.
- Baked on hot stones, in the oven or fried.
- Cooked on hot stones, coals or eaten fresh.
- Cooked on hot stones, baked in the oven or fried.
- Plant considered poisonous.
- Plant considered poisonous.
(I got the above information from an ethno botanical
database that got the information from the Goodrich's book rather than
directly from the book.)
The above survey was done in 1980 and its
hard to say whether any or all of these mushrooms were consumed in
pre-contact times. The Kashaya Pomo are the indigenous inhabitants of the
Sonoma Coast, and had extensive contact with the Russians at Fort Ross (in
fact, a hybrid Russian/Aleut/Pomo culture arose around Fort Ross in the
early 19th century), and later would have had contact with the
Italian-American ranchers who came into the area later in the 19th century.
On the other hand, if the Kashaya use of Boletus edulis pre-dates Russian
contact, then that would push back the tradition of porcini gathering at
Salt Point many centuries!
I have some other references to California
Indian mushroom use that I need to recheck - I'll talk about these in a
follow-up post. - Peter Werner
More from Peter Werner:
through some ethno botanies of California Indian groups and found some
references to mushrooms gathered by groups in Sonoma/Mendocino (Pomo and Yuki) and the Central Sierra (Miwok and
Maidu). Its kind of extensive, so
I'll probably scan the information into a document this weekend and leave it
in the MSSF archive - I'll drop a note when I do this.
In Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, the Yurok,
Karok, and Hupa have a longstanding tradition of gathering Matsutake, which
they often refer to using an English-language common name, "the tanoak
(Interestingly, this same English common name
is used by the Pomo to describe Amanita lanei.)
These groups are apparently avid Matsutake/tanoak
mushroom collectors to this day, and in 1993 the tribes filed a brief trying
to block the commercial Matsutake harvest in the Happy Camp ranger district
of Klamath National Forest, complaining that commercial collecting was
interfering with their traditional harvest. - Peter
From Debbie Viess:
Amanita "lanei" nomenclature
is headed back to A. calyptroderma, but it all points to native amanita
BTW, all this use of past tense is problematic and misleading. There are
descendants of all of these tribes still living in California. The gal who
told me about the coccora was a friend of several of the Pomo up north,
and if you have questions about what the Ohlone ate (eat) in the way of
mushrooms, why don't you ask them? There is an Ohlone festival every year
in October at Coyote Hills Regional Park.
Picking nits 'til the mushrooms arrive, Debbie Viess
From Irma Brandt:
Here's a couple of things
"picked" off the gomendo.com
Mushroom Tips & Tidbits
Coastal Pomo Indians cooked local
mushrooms such as chanterelles, hedgehogs, and oysters by baking them on hot
In a restaurant, ask which wild
mushrooms are in a dish to encourage chefs to put the names on their menus.
Labor Day is near and mushroom season
David and I have been under the impression
that Bay Area Native Americans(?)
did in fact gather mushrooms. A Bay Area Native American would
and Coastanoan. By way of example, Miwoks were also in Yosemite and
themselves the "Ahwaneechee". Circa 1770, the Miwok domain
had a pocket in
Lake County, extended from Southern Sonoma/Marin to the Central Valley due
east of the Bay Area, and mushroomed into the Sierras from Crystal Basin
A search at the Mariposa Tribune Web Site, produced a couple of university reports about Miwok Indians,
which said they gathered mushrooms (referring to Yosemite Miwoks)
I also found a report on Native American land practice use in the Sierra
Nevada and its ecological impact which said "Sierra Nevada
Native Americans also burned mushroom patches to promote better yields and
On our last WAM foray, we met a couple of NFS rangers from Fresh Pond
Station (El Dorado) who described the plan that's being implemented in the
Crystal Basin of forest thinning/control burning as an attempt to simulate
the way the Native Americans, who lived there, used to tend their forest.
If Miwoks were doin' it in Yosemite, they were doin' it in the Bay
Area! I'll pay more attention if and when I'm at the Miwok Village in West
Marin where we took our daughters 20 years ago! - Jeanne Campbell
More from Jeanne
By way of clarification on my original comment, I had put a question
mark after Bay Area Native Americans because that was what the original
inquiry was directed toward. What exactly is/was a "Bay Area"
Native American (definition of Bay Area...etc.) and that's why the
reference to Miwoks and Coastanoans. We have a wonderful book we got
in 1970 when it was first published by the University of California Press
entitled the California Indians. There is a map in the book of Native
Tribes, Groups, Dialects, and Families of California in 1770.
According to that map, those were (the) Bay Area Native Americans.
By the way the Coastanoans (who are shown in the book as being in San
Francisco) were also as far down as Monterey. - Jeanne
From Robert Mackler:
Many years ago, in the vicinity of the Stewart Point Rancheria, I was told
that the name of A. lanei was "the tanoak mushroom" and
that it was eaten by the tribe (the Kashya Pomo). - Robert Mackler
From Dan Long:
I'm not a academic in this group, and I'd
usually sit on my hands and appreciate the banter on these topics, but,
what fertile ground...I think the local Indians would pretty much search
the same mushrooms that we pursue. And they would know that they were
edible because they observed that the wild pigs would eat the chanterelles
and the deer would eat the boletes, ect. I wouldn't think that it would be
documented because we all know how true mushroomers don't disclose where
they find anything! Some things never change. - Dan Long
From Laurel Day:
I, myself, can't imagine making acorn porridge
without mushrooms. It would be like eating wallpaper paste. Or stuffed
mice without a tasty fungus. Totally unimaginable.
I would assume that the American Indians felt the same way. And if a few pale
faced people tried to get me to change my beliefs in Nature and my culinary
habits, I would resist as long as possible, just as the
Here is a list of food that our Bay Area ancestors did eat:
Ohlone Indians http://www.belmont.gov/hist/disc/ohlone.html
Sanchez Adobe Historic Site Pacifica http://www.ci.pacifica.ca.us/Sanchez.html
insects - lice, grasshoppers, yellow jacket grubs (Like croutons, adds that
wood rats (tastes like chicken.)
rabbits - lots and lots of rabbits. Took 200 rabbit skins to make one blanket.
shellfish - mussels, clams, oysters, olivellas, crabs, barnacles, abalones
fish - smelt, salmon
seabirds and eggs
mushrooms, hazelnuts, luaren nuts, pine nuts, cherries, buckeyes,
clover, poppy, mustard, miner's lettuce, cow parsnip shoots, columbine,
milkweed, larkspur, cattail roots, mariposa lily bulbs, strawberries, wild
grapes, currants, gooseberries, huckleberries, manzanita berries
TABOO were eagles, buzzards, ravens, owls and frogs
- Laurel Day
From Judy Christian:
So far, the only thing
I have been able to find does not cover the Bay Area per se. According to the
V. K. Chestnut publication, "Plants used by the Indians of
Mendocino County California", the following excerpts is all I have
been able to find on the subject. (There is information on seaweeds and
lichens as well.)
My observation is that although reports were given to the author about
mushrooms used and eaten by the Indians, some of the comments exhibit
confusion or lack of real science:
Reprinted by Mendocino County Historical
Contributions from the U.S. National Herbarium vol. VII
ECONOMIC PLANTS BY FAMILIES
HYPROCREACEAE. Ergot Family
Clavipes purpurea (Fr.) Fl.
The common ergot, a dense, black, parasitic fungus, which permeates the seeds
of various grasses and alters them into elongated club-shaped masses, was
found growing rather abundantly on the grains of the wild lyme grass (Elymus
triticoides) in Round Valley. Its general medicinal use is well know to the
Indians. No special name was learned for it.
Me-en"-chip"-a-soi' (Yuki) - The common puffball, or devil's
snuffbox, which was observed growing very plentifully on the ground after a
prolonged rain storm in May, 1898. All of the Indians disclaim any knowledge
of its really edible qualities. The leathery outer covering of the same or a
similar species was seen in 1892 in the possession of an Indian medicine man,
who used it along with other highly prized paraphernalia in his professional
outfit. Several skins, each containing pieces of gravel, were securely
fastened to a small stick, and this instrument was used to make a peculiar,
rattling sound. It is well known that when fully mature the spores of this
plant are discharged from its interior in the form of an impalpable,
smoke-like powder. It does not seem at all unlikely that this characteristic
has led the Indians to look upon it with superstition. The spores are used to
some extent to dry up running sores.
POLYPORACEAE. Bracket Fungi.
Ka-la' cha'a (the "ch" explosive)
Calpella CA - A wood-like fungus which grows on the base of alder trees and
on logs. It was described as being brown on top, white underneath, and hard
and smooth all over its outer parts, the inner part being soft and
salmon-colored when thoroughly boiled and characteristically arranged in
horizontal layers. It appears to be more highly esteemed by all the Indians
of this region than any other fungus. (It is purported to be very fine
eating with a flavor of salmon.)
Pore Fungus Family.
Ko-o' cha'-a (the "k" and "ch"
explosive) Calpella CA - A fungus, evidently belonging to this genus, which is
white on top and has a white fracture that rapidly turns blue and then black.
My Indian informant told me (the author) that three white men living near
Ukiah were made very sick "several years ago" by eating this plant.
Another fungus, probably a boletus, for which no special name was given, is
eaten raw by the Calpella Indians. It grows in the woods and is yellow on top
and green beneath.
Hi-gat' (Yuki) - The common field mushroom, which
is elsewhere universally esteemed for its food value. All of the Indians
appear to be somewhat superstitious about eating this fungus, but since they
make a practice of selling it to the white people, it is quite probable that
they do eat it to a considerable extent. A few of the men expressed the belief
that this was the kind that poisoned some white people several years ago.
Amanita Muscaria L.
From the history and symptoms of a fatal case of poisoning
of which an old Indian (Tony Laycock) was the victim at Round Valley in 1894,
related to me soon afterwards, I judge that this fungus was the cause of
death. Other Indians are reported to have been killed at other times by eating
Ka'-e (the "k" explosive) is the Yuki
name applied to an edible fungus 4 to 6 inches in diameter, which was
described as growing on the ground in scattering forests of oak and madrone
trees, and as having white gills.
Laetiporus What? (top)
The following information was
provided by Mike Wood (www.mykoweb.com),
in regards to the following comment in an MSSF mailing from Patrick
David Rust wanted to maybe begin
a Mushroom of the Month section for the column and why not? Let's
start with the above mentioned late summer beauty. "Chicken of
the Woods," "Chicken Mushroom," "Sulfur Shelf,"
"Sulphur Cap," et al., was once scientifically known as
Polyporus sulphureus and then around 1969 or so it began to be listed as
Laetiporus sulphureus. Mushroom book authors from McIlvaine to
Krieger, Stuntz and McKenny, from Lincoff to our own Arora, have always
written that it is at least "edible" and even "choice"
The prominent American mycologist William Alphonso
Murrill (1869-1957) created the genus Laetiporus in 1904. Murrill moved
Polyporus sulphureus to the genus Laetiporus in 1920. So the name Laetiporus
sulphureus is over 80 years old.
Recent mating studies of Laetiporus from across the United States have shown
that we have six species of "sulphur shelf": L. cinncinatus, L.
conifericola, L. gilbertsonii, L. huroniensis, L.
persicinus, and L. sulphureus. All of these species at one time
were known as L. sulphureus and many of them are difficult to distinguish by
morphological means, but they do not mate and therefore are different species.
The "true" Laetiporus sulphureus is not known to occur in the
western United States. Locally we have L. gilbertsonii growing on Eucalyptus
and L. conifericola growing on conifers. The fact that the North American
sulphur shelf is actually six species, rather than one, MAY be part of the
confusion about the edibility of the mushroom.
I have eaten 4 of the six species: L. cinncinatus, L. conifericola, L.
gilbertsonii, and L. sulphureus. One of the other two species is supposed to
be very bitter and therefore probably not edible. I have had no problems with
any of these four, but my rule for eating the sulphur shelf mushroom is to
ONLY eat very YOUNG specimens cooked VERY well. Your mileage may vary.
Some interesting information is on Tom Volk's Fungus
of the Month pages, where he discusses L. cinncinatus: http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/jul2001.html
L. cinncinatus is very white as you can see in this digital pic I took of it
last summer in Minnesota:
It is also very tasty!
If you are interested in why the genus Polyporus has been broken up in the last
100 years, check out Tom's "Polypore primer: An introduction to the
characters used to identify poroid wood decay fungi":
- Mike Wood
A Recipe using Candy Caps (Lactarius
The following recipe is from another fellow
MSSFer, Irma Brandt:
I make a really nice rice dish using the fresh
candy caps that I usually serve along with Cornish game hen...or the wild game
dishes that Mike Wood likes. But the rice dish is quite substantial and
delicious all by itself ....and while you don't eat meat, you might eat the Cornish
I cook up a batch of wild rice and a batch of
white basmati rice as well (portions depending on how much you want to serve
or have for leftovers. I like the wild rice for crunchiness and
the white rice for color contrast .
My ingredients are -
grape seed oil
fresh sage, chopped (I think the sage really compliments the candy caps...
other options might be thyme, marjoram or any other herb you prefer)
butternut squash soup (the one that comes in a carton sold at Trader Joe's) -
these various soups that come in the cartons are great recipe enhancers)
oh yeah....I almost forgot the most important
ingredient... the candycaps......I use
just the caps... save the stems for drying for other recipes.
Toast the pecans and set aside. Melt the
butter, add the grape seed oil so butter doesn't burn, gently sauté shallots,
add the candy caps (if the caps are small it's nice to leave them whole so
they are recognizable... if real big, cut them in half or quarters)... add
just a touch of chicken stock if more liquid is needed... add your rice and a
bit more chicken stock to your sauté, add butternut squash soup (just enough
to make a nice rich mixture - not too liquidy), sage, chopped pecans and salt
to taste... after a few more minutes of sautéing to incorporate all
ingredients add a splash of brandy... let sauté a little longer to blend all
the flavors. Serve a heaping mound of this and top with Cornish game hen
if you like.
A wonderful vege topping is a sauté of carrots,
celery and green beans.....yep...the glorification of celery and carrots....
make long, thin curls of carrots using a potato peeler.....julienne long, thin
celery....and slice green beans in long thin strips........do a sauté of this
using butter, oil, shallots, thyme or marjoram, salt and a little soy
sauce....put the green beans in first cause they take the longest to soften,
add carrots and celery and gently sauté until celery is just
wilted........and top your candy cap rice with this.......
Happy cooking and if you have 'shroom for one
more, let me know 8~)
Because of my recent all-yellow boletus find, this issue’s featured mushroom is the
Boletus orovillus. I had originally assumed it to be the B.
appendiculatus and had eaten it, but with no ill effects. I have advised
and Mike to add to their Mykoweb description, under Edibility:
"Edible for some people, and said to taste something like the B.
Here is the link to the Boletus
Back to HOMEPAGE