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