Our hearts are with the people of Ukraine as they are being displaced from their homes in this war. Read about a mushroom hunting trip to Ukraine, our own Willamette Valley spring mushroom season as it starts and an update on our community scientists. There are some great events coming up like our spring foray schedule, the book club discussion, mushroom ID sessions and art.
Photo by Autumn Anglin, Pyronema omphalodes, Metolius Basin, May 2020.
My First Mushroom Hunt, Ukraine 2007
by Joe Harchanko
My mother had for decades run a free class dedicated to teaching ESL to people with a wide variety of backgrounds from refugees to families of military liaison officers. In her home in Huntsville, Alabama, she had hosted guests from around the world in conjunction with U.S. State Department programs. She had been invited to visit friends she had made in the Ukrainian community and my wife and I decided to go along to visit the country my paternal grandparents had fled nearly a century earlier.
After a stay in Kyiv we boarded an old Soviet era jet (which featured only a few functioning seat belts) and flew to the western town of Ivano Frankivsk. From there our host, Misha, picked us up and drove us to his village, a trip which involved driving through a river because the only bridge to the town was washed out. The next morning Misha invited us to go mushroom hunting. We drove out to a grassy field on the side of a hill with beautiful panoramas of the surrounding area. It was not long before we were gathering huge mushrooms every few steps. I knew nothing of mushrooms but I quickly learned of the shape of the desired species and Misha pointed out the spongy underside of the cap. When I joined WVMS years later I went back to look at the photos and it was quite clear that this was a field brimming with prized King Boletes, or Porcini as they are more often called in Europe. We returned with buckets of them after only a few hours.
There were several other species we would pick up. Misha spoke Ukrainian and I knew very little Russian and only a few phrases of Ukrainian that approximated Russian words. When I was unsure of a mushroom, I would point it out and ask “Dobre?” (good?). Misha would either smile and answer “Dobre” or shake his head and say “Nye dobre.” The grass was soaked in a heavy dew and it wasn’t long before I was, too. As I shook the water from my pants legs I asked Misha “Kak budet…?” He said, “Ah! Mokryy!”. Wet. We were very wet.
I found one particularly striking red mushroom that looked like an extraterrestrial clawing its way from the ground. I pointed it out and asked. Misha laughed and said “Nye dobre” while gesturing towards his nose that I should lean over and smell it. I nearly passed out with the overwhelming stench of poo. That one, as it turns out was a Clathrus archeri, commonly referred to as an Octopus Stinkhorn. And while a few species seem misnamed [“Delicious milkcap”, I’m looking at you], I can truly say this one earned its name with its stinky terrestrial tentacles clawing its way from the ground.
I looked around this field and asked Lilia, our host and translator, who owned this field? She gave me a funny look and conferred with Misha who gave her a funny look and a shrug and said something to her. She turned back to us and shrugged and said, “We do. We all own this.” I think of this whenever I’m on public land in the U.S. or I see “No Trespassing” posted every few feet along country roads. The idea that some places should just belong to a community for everyone to use was one I treasured.
That evening Misha’s wife, Nadia, prepared the most incredible soup made from our bounty. As the smell of King Boletes drying in the oven wafted through the house, Misha pulled out his accordion and sang us his songs. Gathering mushrooms for these people in the Transcarpathian mountains was not a hobby. It was life. Misha’s house was the only house in his village that had running water and the plumbing was simply a pipe that ran into the ground. As they have for generations, they relied on what they could grow, gather, and store for the winter. I listened to their stories of how the last time some of them saw their grandfathers was when soldiers came to the house to take them off to war. They said everyone had a story like this. Their national anthem “Ukraine Has not Yet Fallen” speaks to their resilience in a life of hardships that they have endured and transcended for their entire history.
We drove out from the village though the iconic Ukrainian fields of sunflowers. I had recently seen the movie “Everything Is Illuminated” in which I was struck by the visual brilliance of the small Ukrainian house surrounded by endless sunflowers. What struck me now was that this image was not an exaggeration of visual cinematic storytelling. This image was Ukraine as is and has been throughout time.
We headed to the train station in Lviv, the smell of Misha’s drying mushrooms still in my nose and the warmth of Nadia’s soup still in my heart. I think about that first mushroom hunt particularly today as friends in Ukraine endure yet another assault. I think about the importance that mushrooms play in their very survival, as over a million of them line up at the Polish border fleeing the violence that no one asked for or deserves. What will they do if they are able to return? So many in the countryside will need access to their gardens and to their fields of mushrooms this spring and summer to be able to put away enough for the winter. Charities like World Central Kitchen (wck.org) are feeding hundreds of thousands of refugees at the border and Razom (Together) for Ukraine (razomforukraine.org) and United Help Ukraine (unitedhelpukraine.org) try to get food and supplies to those left behind bearing the brunt of the invasion.
My first mushroom hunt in Ukraine inspired me to get in touch with my own land in Oregon, to accept the bounty it offered me. Today, as I chip wood for my vegetable and mushroom gardens, I think of those who took me into their culture, steeped in mycophilia, shared my own heritage with me, and live so close to the land. I hope and pray their land becomes peaceful and free again soon and that they receive the help and support they need from those of us abroad until it does.
Joe Harchanko is a third generation Ukrainian-American and treasurer of the WVMS. He is a composer and principal cellist of the Salem Orchestra and his performance of “Ukraine Has Not Fallen” can be seen at www.youtube.com/cellotopia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
WVMS Member’s Event Calendar
Bookmark this page for WVMS Member Events! This calendar shows all of our planned virtual and in-person events for the year. You can see our updated foray schedule and virtual events. https://www.wvmssalem.org/member-s-only-events
The event calendar for the general public is on the main page of our website. We hope to add more educational events through the year as the pandemic surges allow https://www.wvmssalem.org/events
Foray to Cultus Lake, from Spring 2019, photo by Jim Scheppke
Spring Foray Calendar 2022
Members can find more detailed information and how to sign up on our website: https://www.wvmssalem.org/account/foray-schedule
Our spring foray schedule has been released! Members mark your calendars and join us for some group gatherings to look for mushrooms.
If you would like to lead a foray, please contact us at email@example.com and we will put you in touch with our Foray Director, Jordan.
Mushroom Hunting Permits
If you plan on foraging in the Deschutes, Fremont-Winema, Umpqua or Willamette national forests you will need to have a 2022 mushroom hunting permit. Personal use permits are good for up to a gallon per day (not including Matsutake, you need a separate permit for those). No permits are required for BLM, Siuslaw, or Tillamook state forests. In addition, Willamette National Forest does not require a permit if collecting up to a gallon of mushrooms per day. If you want to collect more than that amount you will need a personal use permit. This year mushroom permits can be obtained over the phone and either emailed or snail mailed to you. Although these phone numbers are for the Willamette National Forest the permit covers Deschutes, Fremont-Winema, Umpqua and Willamette:
Detroit Ranger District (503)854-3366
McKenzie River Ranger District (541)822-3381
Middle Fork Ranger District (541)782-2283
Springfield Supervisor’s Office (541)225-6300
Sweet Home Ranger District (541)367-5168
Incredible Edible Spring Mushrooms!
by Jordan Dodge
Morchella elata (Real Morel)-Jordan Dodge
After the snow melts when the flora and fauna spring back to life in a cacophony of colors signals the beginning of my favorite time of year, Morel season! Morels and Porcinis are my favorite mushrooms and happen to fruit gregariously in the spring when the soil temperature reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit. These mushrooms can be hard to find unless you know what habitats to focus your search on, which will increase your odds at being successful when you go out to pick the amazing Morel mushroom. Morels can be found fruiting in various habitats and environments all over Oregon, but are more abundantly found in areas where the ground freezes and is covered in a blanket of snow during the winter.
Verpa bohemica (false Morel)- Jordan Dodge
The best locations to look for Morels in our area are forests that burned the year before, old apple orchards with an annual flush, mixed Oak forests, Maples, Ash, Alder, Willow and Cottonwood trees. Morels also fruit from disturbed soil like logged areas, heavy equipment track imprints, landslides and along railroads. Natural Morels fruit in greater abundance along forested riparian zones, which are areas that have woodland and moving water like a creek, river, brook or stream. Morels are genetically diverse and differ widely in appearance due to their polymorphism. There is still much to learn about morels with species that have yet to be scientifically described and named. This family of mushrooms has been around for millions of years and we are just beginning to scratch the surface in regards to figuring out this complex species of fungi.
Sarcosphaeria coronaria (Indicator)- Jordan Dodge
Besides soil temperature there are other ways to determine when Morels are fruiting. There are a few things I look for that indicate to me that the conditions are perfect for Morels. There is an indicator species of large cup-like fungi called Sarcosphaeria coronaria. It has a whitish exterior (Peridium) with a purple interior (hymenium surface) and is about the size of a baseball. Sarcosphaeria coronaria fruits when conditions are perfect for Morels. Gyromitra esculenta and Discina perlata tend to fruit just before and during Morel season indicating that you are looking in the right area. Morels will start fruiting at lower elevations mid April and move up in elevation as the weather gets warmer until around mid June sometimes into July. Start searching south facing slopes at the beginning of the season and then focus on North facing slopes as the weather warms later in the season.
I tend to find Porcinis growing when Morels are fruiting and I typically find them under conifers from eastern Oregon all the way to the coast. East of the Cascade Range I find them mostly growing under the canopy of Ponderosa Pine trees. West of the Cascade Range I find them growing under Fir, Shore Pine, Madrone and Oak trees. Porcinis patches will often fruit twice in a season with the second flush fruiting in greater numbers than the first. The second flush usually occurs two weeks to a month after the first, depending on weather conditions. Porcinis tend to grow in troops or rows and are often camouflaged under a layer of duff appearing as mushrumps (cap shaped lumps of duff). In my experience spring Porcinis fruit in greater numbers east of the Cascade Range and in the fall I focus west of the Cascade Range.
Boletus edulis (Porcini munched on by a deer)- Jordan Dodge
Check back next month when I will cover identifying features of Morel, Porcini and look-a-like mushrooms!
Jordan is Chief Foray Officer, Study Group Mentor and Mycologist for the Willamette Valley Mushroom Society. Jordan owns and operates Lone Oak Micro Farms LLC where he cultivates mushrooms, grows salad greens and microgreens.
Discovering an Appetite for Mushrooms
by Jordan Dodge
Spring is my favorite time of year, because my two favorite mushrooms can be found fruiting gregariously if you know where to look! The first time I considered that mushrooms were edible was on a backpacking trip on the Continental Divide Trail or CDT. I made friends with a group of wonderful people who became my trail family as we hiked along the beautiful Rocky Mountain Range. Poppy and her partner Macaroni (trail names) loved to eat mushrooms and knew about all different types of wild grown edible mushrooms. Every day they kept an eye out for any tasty mushroom growing near the trail that they could add to their dinner that night. The third week on the trail during a break for lunch I found a patch of mushrooms growing next to a creek under the canopy of some conifers. I called my friends over and told them I found some interesting red capped mushrooms with big stems shaped like a lava lamp.
Excited by my description they hurried over to verify what I had found. They let out a cheer and gave me a big hug while explaining that I had found Porcini mushrooms aka the King Bolete or Boletus edulis. We picked about a dozen Porcinis growing under those conifer trees and Poppy cooked some up to accompany that evening's dinner. She sliced the Porcini thin and fried them in some oil and seasoning until crispy. That was the first time I had a positive experience eating mushrooms that actually tasted really good. I love the savory, slightly meaty and nutty flavor that is reminiscent of a perfectly dry aged steak. It unlocked a desire in me to learn more about the mushrooms that grow in our forests and to try more edible fungi. We quartered and skewered the rest of our Porcinis on sticks like mushroom marshmallows and spread them around the fire to dry. Over the next week we had mushrooms with dinner every night and it wasn’t until we were almost out that I realized how much I would miss having mushrooms with our meals.
Around two weeks later Poppy and Macaroni had gotten an earlier start than me and I didn’t run into them until later that afternoon. I came across their packs resting against a log next to the trail. I stopped, took off my pack and called out to my friends. I heard them holler back from a patch of trees a couple hundred yards uphill from the trail. They called out for me to join them and that they found their favorite mushroom. I noticed that the area around us had burned recently in a forest fire and saw large patches of very small orange cup-like mushrooms blanketing the ground that I now know is a genus of Ascomycota called Pyronema. When I got to the stand of trees they were in I saw them kneeling on the ground around a burned log picking odd looking mushrooms that looked like brain’s growing on white stems.
They showed me a mushroom they called a Morel and explained how to identify them. Poppy told me you can tell it’s a Morel because of the vertical ridges with pitting in between and how the stem attaches to the edge of the cap instead of the top. We spent the next few hours scouring the burn picking Morels until we ran out of room in our packs and pockets. The abundance of Morels had us giving them away to the rest of our trail family and a bunch to a couple of trail angels cooking food for CDT hikers at a trail campsite that night. Macaroni and I spent some time gathering a plethora of sticks to skewer our mushrooms onto like a bunch of shish kebabs to dry around the fire. That night the awesome trail angels Jerry and Susan cooked up a wonderful dinner of carne asada with some butter fried Morels we gave them and a delicious caesar salad. The next day we made mushroom tacos with beans, rice and miners lettuce for lunch. To me Morels taste like a beautifully marbled prime rib, so rich and savory that it could confuse the most refined palates.
After eating Morels for the first time I knew I had to learn everything about this delectable mushroom. A couple months after I arrived back home in Oregon after completing my CDT journey I ran into an old friend from high school who picks mushrooms commercially with his father. We talked for hours about mushrooms and eventually Karl invited me to tag along with them on their next trip. His father Hank became my first mentor and taught me all about the different edible mushrooms that they commercially harvest. For the next few years I would spend the spring with them harvesting Morels and Porcinis, then in the fall we would harvest Lobsters, Chanterelles, Matsutake and Porcinis. I learned so much about mushrooms from my friends over the years and developed such a strong passion for them that I knew I had to continue on this lifelong journey into the world of fungi.
Jordan is Chief Foray Officer, Study Group Mentor and Mycologist for the Willamette Valley Mushroom Society. Jordan owns and operates Lone Oak Micro Farms LLC where he cultivates mushrooms, grows salad greens and microgreens.
Study Group Update | WVMS FUNGA
Photo by Autumn Anglin- Auriscalpium vulgare
WVMS Funga, our citizen science focused fungi study group now has 15 dedicated students working together to learn more about fungi. Our mentors Autumn, Jordan, Henry, Diana and Jeanie have led everyone through 2 Modules and coordinated 3 field study forays. Our goal is to learn to identify fungi in the field to Family or Genus and create iNaturalist observations that will be useful to scientific study.
WVMS Funga Study Group studying winter fungi in March- Photo by Jim Scheppke
We just finished working through Module 2 where everyone put together presentations on Families Russulaceae, Cortinariaceae, Gomphidiaceae, Polyporaceae, Clavariaceae and Discinaceae, as well as the genera Lactarius, Phaeocollybia and Peziza. Members can watch these excellent presentations on our website https://www.wvmssalem.org/module-2
Since we enrolled the new group in February we have learned about the following fungi as we discovered it in the field, Xylaria hypoxylon, Trametes versicolor, Auriscalpium vulgare, Stereum hirsutum, Guepiniopsis alpina, Schizophyllum commune, Fomitopsis mounceae, Lichenomphalia umbellifera, Sarcoscypha coccinea, Daedalea quercina, Cryptoporus volvatus, and more. Our WVMS Funga iNaturalist project now has over 1150 observations that include 323 species of fungi. It is important to us to continue to add observations with as much data about the fungi as we can quantify. We encourage our observers to take a minimum of 5 photographs, note measurements, habitat, weather, substrate and microscopy. As we move through the year, our study group will continue to regularly add to our observations as we help build a database of fungi for the Willamette Valley. This database will be an incredible asset of biodiversity in years to come as global warming continues to change our climate.
WVMS Funga has been using Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora and Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Fungi of Coastal Northern California by Noah Siegel and Christian Schwarz , but we are excited by this new book Mushrooms of Cascadia: An Illustrated Key by Michael Beug. It is available at a discounted price right now at Fungi Magazine’s website http://fungimag.com/store.htm
Moving on to Module 3 our group is now familiarizing ourselves with habitat. Diana Reeck is sharing her expert knowledge on native plants and their relationships to fungi. Learning habitat is crucial to the study of fungi. This will help us make better observations and learn what fungi might be mycorrhizal.
Henry Young and Autumn Anglin leading the group in identification- photo by Jordan Dodge
If you are interested in learning more about fungi, the Modules can be accessed for members as a self-paced course to work through. Enrollment for the current study group is now closed for the year, but we hope to open it back up next February. You can find video recordings of our zoom classes on the Module pages along with resources and links to support your study.
Members can read more about the study group here
Check out the resources for members here
We are going to read Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake for the spring. The board has approved a purchase of some copies to lend to members. If you would like to borrow a copy of the book to read, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org and one of the board members will get you a copy.
Join a zoom discussion of the book on April 30th at 6pm! Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 458 743 3965
Dial by your location
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
Listen to the author Merlin Sheldrake in an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio here https://www.wpr.org/shows/how-fungi-make-our-world
And the interview with Welcome to the Mushroom Hour Merlin Sheldrake here https://www.welcometomushroomhour.com/blogs/podcasts/ep-26-entangled-life-how-fungi-make-our-worlds-change-our-minds-shape-our-futures-feat-merlin-sheldrake?_pos=1&_sid=e08b5e2b9&_ss=r
Mushroom ID Sessions
Photo by Autumn Anglin- Sarcoscypha coccinea
The Mushroom ID Sessions are open to any member to join in and get help identifying fungi you found. You don’t need any experience to join in. If you want to learn more about fungi, come learn by hanging out and just listening to us talk about mushrooms. You can find past recordings on our website under the “Education” tab https://www.wvmssalem.org/mushroom-id-sessions.
The next Mushroom ID Session will be hosted by Autumn on April 5th. If you can’t make it and want something identified, you can email photos and a detailed description of the habitat, cap, stipe, gills, color, odor, and any bruising or staining, along with the color of the spore print to email@example.com.
Mushroom ID Sessions will be every other Tuesday through June.
April 5th at 6:30 pm
April 26th at 6:30 pm
May 10th at 6:30 pm
May 24th at 6:30 pm
2022 WVMS Mushroom Hunt:
We started a new iNaturalist project to invite WVMS members to join us in sharing their fungi finds. We will use these observations in our Mushroom ID sessions and further education in field ID. If you like to find mushrooms and have a smartphone, then you can participate.
Step 1: Create a FREE iNaturalist account: https://www.inaturalist.org/signup
Step 2: Join this project: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/wvms-mushroom-hunt
Step 3: Take good photos with your camera or smartphone and create your first observation.
Any fungi or slime mold observation you make will automatically show up in this project. It will be a great way to keep track of all of the fungi we find and, in doing so, we can all get a little better at identifying mushrooms.
If you have a smartphone you can download the app https://www.inaturalist.org/
Are you new to iNaturalist and can’t figure it out? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will create an online zoom class to help get you set up.
Fungi and Art
Autumn Anglin was accepted into the Ceramic Showcase by the Oregon Potters Association, which will be held at the Oregon Convention Center on May 6-8. She has created an entire fungi themed display for this show for those interested. Please visit www.autumnsteam.com to find out more.
Forum (members only): https://groups.google.com/g/wvms-members
Board Members: President- Patrick Heiman, Vice President- Autumn Anglin, Treasurer- Joe Harchanko, Membership Director- Beth Lampert, Secretary- Diane Highberger, Foray Coordinator- Jordan Dodge, Minister of Propaganda- John Marikos, Hospitality Committee- Mariane Pope