Mushroom Season Begins, A Mushroom Hike And, Surprisingly, I Found Some Mushrooms!

Mushroom Season Begins, A Mushroom Hike And, Surprisingly, I Found Some Mushrooms!

Mushroom hike (6 of 34)
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Mid July is  usually the start of mushroom season here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I have been picking edible wild mushrooms since I was around three years old. My dad taught us how to pick and identify  “red top’   and “cozie” mushrooms. They are two  species of bolete mushrooms.  We would  spend many wonderful hours over many  years searching for them.  I learned to love nature on those mushroom  walks. We would eat  most of them soon after they were picked  but we would also dry some for our mushroom soup.  This soup is part of our traditional  Polish Christmas Eve Holy Super. These red tops  shown here are from  last year.

I continued this  tradition as an adult,  and learned to pick dozens of different other  edible  wild mushroom species.   It is a great hobby with a warning, one  must be careful because many species of wild mushroom can make you sick and some can kill you. I  don’t recommend eating any wild mushroom unless you are 100% sure they are safe.

Usually the first species of bolete and milker  (lactarius ) mushrooms begin to appear in our woodlands in mid July.  However,  this may vary year to year. . Mushrooms  need  moisture. And we  have had little rain these past few  weeks. I decided to take a hike and  see if I could find some mushrooms last Friday but my  expectations weren’t great because of ouf lack of rainfall. 

It was sunny and warm when I began my  hike, We mushroom or “shroom” hunters don’t reveal our location so I will only say it was somewhere in Luzerne, Schuylkill or Carbon Counties.    As I have in the past, I  will only  post close up and macro photos from my mushroom hikes.. I chose an area where the is a lot of wet conditions where I hoped the bolete and lactarius mushrooms may be growing.  I won’t show  the trail I  hiked, but it was mainly a second growth oak forest, these are oak leaves, 

With some maple, 

sassafras and

witch hazel   trees growing in the second growth oak  woodlands.

Although it was dry  from the lack of rain  the many ferns growing under the shade of the oak trees were still lush and green. Eastern hay-scented ferns, 

bracken ferns 

and  cinnamon ferns  were growing everywhere on my  three mile hike. 

However, as expected  I found  no bolete mushrooms, and only a few lactarius mushrooms, actually I only found one.

These mushrooms produce a milk like sap when cut or broken.  In some years I can find a half bushel of these mushrooms. 

And in rainy years there are dozens of other beautiful species of mushrooms on the forest floor. Not this year, not yet anyway, I found one amanita mushroom, it could be a deadly destroying angel. 

However, as I continued my walk. I saw a patch of orange  in the deeper woods some distance from the trail.  I was excited. I  wasn’t sure yet, it was still early in the mushroom season, and I didn’t expect to find these mushrooms.   I walked into the woods to investigate and  my guess and hope was correct. I found these two 

chicken of the woods mushrooms. They were beautiful. They were Laetiporus cincinnatus , the white pored species chicken of the woods mushroom. Unlike the yellow pored species these mushrooms grow on the ground at the base or roots  of mainly oak trees.  They were a little old but still very edible. I was surprised to find them for two reasons. First, it had been so dry, and second this is very early in the season. I usually find them at the end of August. 

I continued on my hike in the woodlands now knowing I would be enjoying wild mushrooms for dinner. 

As I walked under the canopy of trees I heard a few birds singing and was able to photograph these  scarlet tanagers,  this is a male, 

and this a female. 

There were also a few red-eyed vireo  in the oak  woods. 

I only saw a few more mushrooms growing along the trails, a few amanita mushrooms, until, 

I saw another bright orange in the woodlands. I walked toward the tree and found this beautiful chicken of the woods mushroom. It was a Laetiporus sulphureus ,   a yellow pored chicken of the woods. It  was young and just at the perfect stage for eating. I was happy. Now, my brother and ne[phew would also be eating mushrooms that evening. 

I walked out on the trail about 1 1/2 miles  when I decided to end my hike. I walked back as the afternoon sun filtered through the trees. I didn’t find any more mushroom but  I did see these Indian or ghost pipes.  Although it resembles a mushroom they are actually flowering plants that do no produce chlorophyll.  They  have many  medicinal uses.

 I was very pleased with my mushroom hike. I didn’t  expect to  find  many bolete  or milker mushrooms and  finding three beautiful chicken of the woods mushroom in these dry conditions and this early in the season was like hitting the mushroom lottery.  I am going to keep playing that lottery the rest of the Summer, because with mushrooms you never knew when  they are growing.. Hopefully some rain will increase the odds in my favor.  I love mushroom season. I love Summer. Here is a link to a gallery in my blog with more photos  from my hike. Mushrooms hike July 15 2022.

“Falling in love is like eating mushrooms, you never know if it’s the real thing until it’s too late.” ~ Bill Ballance

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