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The best times to find mushrooms Agaricus growing wild depends on the location of the woods, the weather and the skill of the forager. Most mushrooms grow in the spring, summer and fall, according to the Mushroom Huntress , but some appear in the winter. In addition, 11 edible mushroom varieties grow in North America. And, just as there are 11 types, the scientific names of all the edibles vary according to type as well as to their growing seasons. A mushroom, which is actually a fungus, is a fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting fungus that grows aboveground or on its food source.
An expert mycologist is a person who has studied mushrooms thoroughly and can identify the edible and toxic versions. As so many varieties of mushrooms exist, a beginning forager should never go into the woods without the expertise provided by a trained and knowledgeable mycologist. You are risking your life when consuming unknown plants. Mushrooms can be edible or toxic, but only an expert can tell the difference. Before stepping outside with your basket, research the varieties of mushroom that grow in your area and what to look for.
Learn about lookalikes, the specific characteristics of each mushroom type, and how to collect a mushroom and store it. Consult a local foraging group or online resource to familiarize yourself with the specifics of identifying local edible mushroom types and the time of year that a walk in the woods is likely to produce a good harvest. Morel mushrooms are the first to appear in the wild in spring. Black morels are found at the base of an ash, elm, aspen, poplar, cottonwood or apple tree, according to Garden College Magazine.
Look for decaying trees as morels often feed on dying root systems. The exterior is finely ribbed and looks like a honeycomb, and the interior is hollow and white. Found in wooded areas in North America and in Europe, morels are the most expensive mushroom as well as the most tasty, with a deep, nutty flavor.
If the weather is warm and wet in early spring, hunt for morels. However, several morel lookalikes are highly toxic. They are reddish-brown to yellow in color, and the cap, instead of growing straight up, hangs to the side.
The interior of the fake morel is not hollow, which is why it's best to carry a pocketknife when on a morel hunt. Elegant golden chanterelle Cantharellus cibarius mushrooms grow and are harvested in late summer through December in North America. They're typically found in coniferous forests populated with evergreen trees that are exposed to long winters. In some locations, you also can find them in beech forests.
Identify a chanterelle by its golden color and the sturdy gills that run down to the stem. They smell fruity, woody or earthy, and they have a peppery taste. Saute them with butter and cream for a delicate sauce, according to PlantSnap. Some dangerous lookalikes are dark orange with a color that fades toward the edges. While not toxic, ingesting one can cause stomach distress.
Jack-o-lantern Omphalotus olearius mushrooms, another lookalike, have gills that are thinner and run deeper. Fairy ring mushrooms Marasmius oreades are the mushrooms you see on lawns and grass and in Disney movies. They are distributed throughout North America. They are typically long stemmed, tan or white capped, and the gills underneath are well spaced. They are harvested in the summer and fall and can grow year-round in warm climates.
Identify the fairy ring by stumbling across a stand of mushrooms growing in a ring or an arc. Other standard-looking mushrooms are the meadow mushroom Agaricus campestris that grows in grassland and may be found in a fairy ring arc. After a good rain in the spring and summer, the Meadow Mushroom is ripe for harvesting. The cap is white, and the gills are pink. Giant puffballs Calvatia gigantea are exciting to discover; their large size attracts the eye. Eat them only when they are young and the inside flesh is white. The shaggy mane Coprinus comatus looks like a dripping ice cream cone with its white wig atop a narrow stem.
It grows in grasslands and meadows in North America and is best foraged in June through November. The maitake Grifola frondosa is found at the base of oak trees in China and Japan and has been observed in Northeastern North America. Resembling a wavy bit of coral, the maitake is often incorporated into Japanese dishes. Found in the fall in North America, all the white parts are edible. The standard magic mushrooms Psilocybe cubensis contain a substance known as psilocybin; it can be found in approximately species of mushrooms.
They are used to treat depression, but not until you after you've returned from a long mental voyage, according to The Guardian. Many states have declared them illegal for personal use, but the lid is being lifted as other drugs are being decriminalized.
Psilocybin is slowly being recognized as a positive psychedelic drug, and research continues into its uses in healthcare. While mostly grown indoors, the recognizable magic mushrooms Psilocybe allenii that grow outdoors are a dusty charcoal in color with loosely spaced gills and short stems that look dirty. They thrive at the edges of woods and forests and spread rapidly in urban environments in the Pacific Northwest. Harvesting is time sensitive and depends on the individual development of the mushroom.
Each has its own harvest window, which usually lasts up to three days. A versatile writer, Jann enjoys research as well as doing the actual writing. A career in television writing, as a magazine editor and celebrity interviewer, Jann adapts to her environment, having traveled the world, living overseas and packing and unpacking her treasures for a new location over 30 times.
Home Guides Garden Pest Control. By Jann Seal Updated May 24, Related Articles. Warning An expert mycologist is a person who has studied mushrooms thoroughly and can identify the edible and toxic versions. PlantSnap: Edible Mushrooms in the U. Garden Collage Magazine: Foraging for Morels?Where do mushrooms grow naturally
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