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This spring was unusual in that it followed a winter of almost no snow. I was skeptical about finding any mushrooms at all, but again was pleasantly surprised.
This spring, we did find a good supply of morels (Morchella elata), lots of Spring Kings (Boletus pinophilus), Red-capped Butter Boletes (Boletus regius), and butter boletes which I ID as Boletus appendiculatus. I led a few forays with positive results and even made a few new friends along the way who are also interested in finding (and consuming) wild mushrooms.
Findings, March 9 - July 26 (top)
Saturday, March 9: Today Cecelia and I went to Chico to deliver a bottle of KOH to Mike Thomas and to go with him to one of his landscape morel spots.
Between the three of us, we picked about 2 lbs, just at this one spot.
It sure felt good to have some fresh morels in my hands again!
Wednesday, April 25: Cecelia and I went out in the sunshine yesterday to see if we could see any morels near Lake Almanor, which is around 4400 ft.
No morels nor morel indicator mushrooms like the Gyromitra montana and the orange cup fungus, in fact we only found a few mushrooms total - some Tricholoma and a Melanoleuca at a rest stop, a couple of orange, brown-spored mushrooms in a fire ring, and 3 Hygrophorus near a logged site.
At least this was a lot better than last week, and we expect more warm days for more than a few days.
There is still hope!
Friday, April 27: Yesterday, Cecelia and I went for a drive above Chester to see how low the snow level was, and to check around for morels.
We got as far as we usually do, to around 5000 ft, and there were only a few patches of snow.
In short, we saw no morels but did find one Gyromitra montana about the size of a golf ball, a good sign for me. We also saw some fresh Cryptoporus volvatus, but little else.
More rain is expected by next Thursday, so in two weeks it should be more promising.
Monday, April 30: Today I found two morels in an area here in town where we have only found morels in good morel years, but this time, a week later than the last time. This should mean that maybe in a week, there will be morels showing up near Lake Almanor.
Tuesday, May 1: We actually found one morel (but only one!) today at one of our "faithful spots" near Lake Almanor. We ate it with some small King Boletes sent recently to us by Hugh Smith.
Tuesday, May 8: Things seem to be picking up in the northern tip of the Sierra, at least as far as morels go.
Yesterday (Monday May 7) I found a few small groups of them along a logging road at about 4500 ft., in a place where I sometimes only find a few. I then found two larger single ones near my car, but that was it for the day.
Today we both went up a bit higher to an old logged area at about 4800ft. and picked a little over 1 1/2 pounds of morels. If we hadn't run out of time, I am sure we could have picked another pound. It was a good feeling to find as many as we did.
We were pleasantly surprised that this area could keep supplying us with enough for a few meals. We did see a few more additional species than a week ago.
It is a place to which it would be worth returning tomorrow but we will be short time-wise again, so we will most likely just check a few of our other trusty locations that sometimes yield morels.
No spring king boletes seen yet, but in a few weeks or less, I suspect they will be showing.
Wednesday, May 9: Today Cecelia and I went up towards Lake Almanor (about 4400 ft) to see if we could find any morels. We walked and walked for about 4 hours, but finally found and picked about 1 1/2 pounds between the two of us. Some spots were pretty good, some okay, but many were morel-less, but it was a beautiful day for a long walk .
When we got home I found we had a message on the machine from a friend saying she had found a big morel near her home above town which is also at 4400 ft. I went up to look at it and found 2 more for a total of 3, 2 of which were the largest I have found so far, about 4" tall. Didn't see much else but a nice bunch of Spring Amanitas close by in all phases of growth. I hope some will still be fresh enough for Debbie Viess. to ID on the 19th.
The season may still be a bit early, according to my old reports, but I know this year there are more somewhere out there. Just need to know where.
I think I may check one of the higher elevation spots soon, to see if any have started showing up there yet.
Thursday, May 10: Cecelia and I took a drive in the late afternoon up towards the 5000 ft. level today to see what had changed since we were there a few weeks ago. On the way we stopped to check out a 4500 ft. spot, but only found a few morels there. We continued on our way until about the 4700 ft. level and stopped at another old logging spot. I wanted to check to see if any more Gyromitra montana had come out. No montanas, but instead we found a few small morels right near the car. The more we looked, the bigger they got and the more we found, until we got tired of bending over and decided to continue to our destination before we ran out of time. These were some of the biggest yet.
At the higher elevation, we only found a few more, so we turned around, stopped back at the other spot, and collected a few more morels, being more selective as to the size.
In all we collected about 3 1/2 pounds, plus I brought home some small Agaricus which looked like a campestris, but developed entirely below the soft ground. One of the mushrooms had an extended margin and bright pink gills and neither seemed to stain yellow.
I will try them for breakfast.
I think the lack of morels at the first stop, compared with some of the other 4500 ft. spots, was because it was so near the town of Chester.
Monday, May 14: After lunch today, Cecelia and I decided to recheck a few of our old and trusty morel spots around 4400 ft, one we had checked about a week ago and where we felt we might find at least a pound more of morels if we had stayed longer or returned.
In fact we did pretty good at that spot, then checked a few more spots, and eventually picked about 3 1/2 pounds total for the day.
Not bad for old spots.
Today we even saw a few large, hollow, Sarcosphaera crassa, one of my trusty morel indicators, picked a solitary amber-staining Agaricus albolutescens which I plan to have for tomorrow's breakfast, and saw a small group of the Cortinarius magnivelatus (or similar species), with its persistent veil. One small one I kept for display (and more positive ID) on Saturday.
There were a few other species seen, not very notable today because we were on the hunt for edibles!
Wednesday, May 16: Today Cecelia and I went up to around 6000 ft., above Westwood, but only found a few morels. We also found some small patches of snow and one Gyromitra montana.
Then we went back down towards Lake Almanor to recheck a few of our old spots.
The first was along the bike path, in a small area that had been logged more than a few years ago. We found more than a few morels here, including the biggest morel I have ever picked (found by Cecelia). It only weighed in at a quarter-pound, but the cap was fresh and the stalk was still fairly white.
The next few places we were again surprised because of all the recent local competition, as we found 3 large morels right next to the car, with a medium-sized puffball, a Calbovista subsculpta, right in front of the car. Good spot to stop!
Almost all the morels we picked the rest of the afternoon were fairly large and fresh. Some were as black as charcoal and hard to tell from the charcoal other than by their shape.
We also saw more of the hollow Sarcosphaera crassa and a young but large yellow coral mushroom, probably a Ramaria rasilispora.
When I got home, a friend called to say he had found some boletes near their home at 4400 ft.
I drove up and checked, and found that they were the first Spring Kings of the season. Close by were more Calbovista puffballs and a few yellow amanitas.
May 19 - 20: This weekend, we led a small foray to some of my spots near Greenville. I made a web page presentation for the foray, which includes some pictures by myself, Hugh Smith, Debbie Viess, and Bolek Kuznik: /valley-foray-07.htm
In short, it was a beautiful weekend spent in the mountains with friends.
And we even found some mushrooms!
Sunday, May 27: Later today we decided to recheck a few of our Spring Kings spots at around 4500 ft. We were pleasantly surprised that there were still some small ones as well as some big ones to be found. We left about four small ones and picked nine larger ones for the table. Three of the largest ones were found along the same bank and spot where Larry S. had found a few last weekend.
We also saw a few yellow Amanitas, both buttons and dried out ones, and one cortinarius.
We didn't spend much time looking, after we picked the first batch of boletes.
So the Spring King season continues.
Saturday, June 2: I think the slight amount of rain we received up here recently in Greenville may have done some good.
This morning I went back up to my local Spring King spot and found a few large ones. I had just checked a few days ago, so it was a pleasant surprise.
Later, Cecelia and I went to a different spot farther from town, and did much better. At the first spot, we filled the basket with Spring Kings and a few Red-Capped Butter Boletes, the Boletus regius. If I had brought a bigger basket, I am sure we would have collected more kings. Cecelia spotted most of them as usual. I mainly removed and cleaned them for the basket.
The spots we went to next (after transferring the boletes to a shopping bag) had mixed results, but by the time we got home, we had filled the shopping bag to the top with boletes.
I saw lots of yellow amanitas and many yellow coral mushrooms during the day, plus a few red ones. We also saw some unidentified Hygrophorus.
The smaller boletes will be cooked tonight, and most of the large ones are already in the dryer. I ran out of room, so I will have to finish drying them tomorrow. Darn!
And most were worm-free.
The season still continues!
Monday, June 4: I went back up to our last productive King Boletus spot near Lake Almanor, and searched a bit harder. I only found a few Kings this time, but found a lot more Boletus regius, the Red-capped Butter boletes.
One comment about these boletes:
Along the way, I also found two well-preserved morels, entirely by accident.
I then decided to check a morel spot closer to home, to see if I could find more dried morels. Instead, I only found more dirty boletes. I left all of these, as I already had enough for the day. I soon decided that the only way I would find more morels this late in the season (at that altitude) would be by accident, and not while looking for them. As they dried out, the usually black color became the same as the duff.
I also saw several yellow Ramaria, which seemed to like the same duff-less areas as the butter boletes.
When I got home, I rinsed the dirty butter boletes briefly in water, dried them immediately with a towel, and prepared them for cooking.
I mixed them in a large pan along with the few kings I found, and once they started to cook, the yellow, bluing flesh began to look the same as for the kings.
They are usually bland tasting by comparison, so I added some powdered porcini. This resulted in a somewhat gooey concoction, but gave off a nice aroma.
But, when they all get re-cooked into a meal, I think they will taste okay. The texture, at least, was very good, as all were firm-fleshed, with no worms.
Saturday, June 9: I found some of what appears to be a dense bunch of Rhizopogon rubescens growing in our garden this morning, while moving some cedar wood chips around some young shallots.
Some references say that they are edible and choice, so I want to make sure before I try one. They look more like the pictures I saw that were taken in other countries.
The interior is sponge-like, and you can see that they bruised reddish, but they were chalk white when fresh and undisturbed. The largest is about 1 1/4-in. wide.
rhizopogon shows a few shots.
Could I be correct?
I would appreciate any information about the pictures before I toss the tubers in the can without trying a taste.
Follow up: With help from a few friends, looking at the spores under a microscope, and comparing them to a local Scleroderma, it was finally determined that the small "Rhizopogons" were young Scleroderma, probably S. cepa.
So I didn't taste them.
Monday, June 10: This Sunday, we were up near one of our spots and picked over 23 lbs of King Boletes.
The hunt actually started on Friday, when I took a friend up to a spot at 4800 ft. to see how the Spring Kings were doing and to see if there were any Calvatia sculpta left at another spot. Her husband is quite fond of their taste.
At the first spot we only found a few whole Spring Kings, plus a very large and fresh stipe. We continued to a campground, and as soon as we got into the camp, she spotted one by the side of the road. We both continued on filled our baskets. Hers was filled mostly with large Red-capped butter boletes.
I then took her to my two calvatia spots, and, after emptying her basket into the back of the car, she filled it with puffballs.
Later that day, I got a call from two fellow MSSFers, who were in the area and wanted to know if I could recommend some spots. I told them where I had just picked several that morning, and it turned out that they had been there shortly after us, noticing that someone had been there. They still found a few. I told them about a spot a few hundred feet from where we had found so many, told them that the spot usually was pretty good, and that I hadn't checked it yet.
Then, on Sunday, we just happened to be in that same area for lunch and went back to the same campground to check it again. We soon filled my basket and saw lots more of the red-capped butter boletes, many buttons.
We then checked that other spot down the road. They were right where I had described, and there were very many of them, most pretty large, but fresh and relatively worm-free. We filled my basket three times. On the third trip, I finally brought my camera.
We will be drying and/or cooking them for a few days!
I thought that they would be worm-free if the cut stipe was clear of worms.
I discovered later that a worm-free stipe does not always a worm-free cap make.
Tuesday, June 19: Yesterday, after hearing his (Mike Thomas) encouraging report in regards to finding some Boletus appendiculatus and B. regius (Butter Boletes) along with the B. pinophilus (Spring Kings), I went up to an area around 4800 ft to check a campground that sometimes produces all three, but usually at different times.
I had started walking through the campground, picking some B. regius, the red-capped Butter Bolete, when a woman came over to me and asked if I wanted to camp there.
I said no, but that I was just looking for mushrooms. My basket already had a few of them, and she asked if she could walk along with me, as she was the camp hostess and wanted to know more about the mushrooms that grew there.
We walked and talked, my picking boletes as we went along, and with her help, soon found some Spring Kings. This surprised me, as I thought their season was coming to an end. Soon after, we found some Boletus appendiculatus. There were also some Yellow Coral mushrooms still around.
This was a first for me, finding Spring Kings at the same time as the B. appendiculatus, which I usually find in early July.
After I filled my basket, I transferred the contents to a shopping bag and left the campground to check my nearby Calvatia sculpta spot.
I found and picked a few of these and decided it was getting time to return home.
On the way by the campground, I stopped to give the camp host and hostess a few of each for them to try, writing down the basic differences of the mushrooms along with the scientific names, and was given some small pieces of her beautiful pine-needle basket work in return.
Not a bad day, and it was sunny, cool, and mostly bug-free.
Monday, June 23: Today I went back to my Boletus "appendiculatus" spot at 5100 ft., and found a few more Boletes, enough to overflow my smaller basket. I found one B. pinophilus, too old for the table, and several butter boletes. I found one that was almost pink, so I took a few pictures of it:
I still would ID this one as the B appendiculatus.
Has anyone else found any appendiculatus, or butter boletes with tan caps that look like these, in the late spring and under fir?
Most of the others butter boletes were tan-capped and firm like the appendiculatus or more red and soft like the B. regius. All had dark spores and reticulations like the photo. The tan-capped ones had the least worm infestation.
Tuesday, July 3: Today Cecelia and I went up our "appendiculatus" spot at around 4800 ft. to meet up with our new friend and mushroom hunter, Denise DeRose. I wasn't expecting to find much, as the area had been picked over on Sunday, according to another friend, and it was getting pretty warm up there.
However, we soon saw several butter boletes in all stages and colors from reddish-brown to tan buttons to large old ones. I even found one that was almost white but with a pink section and the most brilliantly yellow flesh and pore tubes.
Most of the tan ones we picked were very firm and seemed to blue slowly when cut, so until I hear a new name, I will treat them as if they were the Boletus appendiculatus, even though they were found in the early summer under fir.
I also wanted to show her our Calvatia spots. There we found a few dried-up ones, saw lots of skeletons, and even found a few more appendiculatus, right next to where we parked the cars.
I think she was pleased with her haul. I was pleasantly surprised, but I think the season up there will end soon unless we get a cold or wet spell.
In the Sierra Mountains, anything is possible this time of year.
Thursday, July 26: I saw two Boletus apendiculatus-looking boletes up in Lassen National Park yesterday, right next to Cold Boiling Lake.
A Recipe for Morels, from Sam Longmire (top)