No “Redtop” Mushrooms But A Gorgeous September Day In The Woods Of Northeastern PA.
My mission on Saturday was simple. Find some “redtop” mushrooms. We have had a lot of rain this Summer here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And the mushrooms have certainly benefited. I have picked bushels of the many species I know are safe to eat. However, I have found only a few “redtop” or aspen scaber stalk mushrooms.
These and what we called “cozie” mushrooms, birch scaber stalk mushrooms, are the two species my dad taught us to pick as young children. We spent many enjoyable late Summer and early Autumn days in the woods looking for them. We would love peeling, cutting and preparing them with him. It was a family project.
We also dried some for my mom to use in our traditional Polish Christmas Eve Holy Supper mushroom soup. We lost dad, mom and my sister Linda, but my nieces have carried on the tradition and have been making the soup to perfection the past few year. The only problem now is finding the mushrooms.
I supplied more than enough of these mushrooms for eating and mushroom soup for the past 25 years. The photograph above is my mom and nephew Mike inspecting one of my successful days of searching for “redtops”. My nephew Mike helped. I had my “secret” locations where they grow. However, last year many of the areas I found my “redtop” mushrooms were clear cut for lumber and development . I have been searching for another area where they grow but so far with little luck.
So I spent most of my Labor Day weekend looking for these mushrooms. I only took my camera on my Saturday hike. It was a cool morning with some interesting high clouds in the sky when I began my search early in the morning. I won’t say exactly where I was, only that it was somewhere in Luzerne, Carbon, Schuylkill or Columbia counties.
I started my hike in the birch, pine and aspen tree woods in the old strip mine areas where these mushrooms usually grow. But not on Saturday. I didn’t find a single one after a couple of mile of searching. I am not sure if they weren’t growing in these areas or were not growing anywhere. This is the dilemma of losing my favorite mushroom area last year. I always knew that IF they were growing I’d find some. Not anymore. Well, anyway not a single “redtop” or “cozie” mushroom did I find.
Although there were no mushrooms in these woods, I did enjoy the search. I always said searching for the mushrooms is half of the fun. Once again I enjoyed the beautiful woodlands of our area. I saw a lot of late Summer wildflowers in bloom. The most common now in bloom is a flower, although many would consider it a obnoxious weed, the misunderstood goldenrod flower. These flowers are everywhere in our woodlands but especially in the cleared area in the strip mine areas I look for the “redtop” and “cozie” mushrooms. I never realized there were many different species of the flower. Thanks to my PictureThis iPhone App I now know this. I saw mostly gray goldenrod on my hike but also,
some grass-leaved goldenrod flowers. I say misunderstood because these plants, which cause so many people with allergies to suffer every year, are very beneficial to the insect kingdom.
It was a cool morning, around 55 degrees when I started my hike, and no insects were active in the cool air, but the insects became active as the sun rose in the sky. And the goldenrods flowers attracted bees,
and butterflies. I believe this is an orange sulphur butterfly, and this
I think is a meadow fritillary butterfly. I am sure, later in the day, there would be even more insects on the goldenrod flowers.
I also came upon a few patches of milkweed plant. I looked for monarch butterfly caterpillars and didn’t find any but did find some milkweed tussock moth butterflies feeding on the milkweed leaves.
This interesting wasp also was on a milkweed leaf.
Other flowers I saw on my walk in the strip mines were these old rough hawkweed flowers,
and a lot of spotted knapweed flowers.
These common flowers also attracted a lot of insects including this butterfly, I believe a type of skipper butterfly.
But it is September and, although there were flowers in bloom some of the trees were losing their leaves already and most of the bracken ferns were already brown and decaying. Fall is knocking on our door.
Well, after a couple miles of searching I gave up on the “redtops” and drove to an area of deeper woodlands,
and looked for another favorite mushroom, hen of the woods, or as we call them “ramsheads”. The Japanese call the maitake or the “dancing mushroom” because they would dance for joy when the found one. Well, I wasn’t doing any dancing on Saturday. I didn’t find any. The photo here is one I found last year. But, once again I enjoyed my three mile hike looking for them.
The woods were still saturated from the heavy rains we got last week and I found quite a few different species of mushrooms growing on my walk, including a few burnt orange bolete, and
and amanita mushrooms. There were also a few edible two-colored boletes but I left them. My mission was to find “red tops” and “ramsheads”.
While searching for the ramsheads I found many acorns on the ground. It looks like it will be a good crop this year which will be good for the deer, turkey and other wildlife.
It was nice walking under the canopy of leaves with the rays of the sun filtering through and illuminating the many ferns growing on the forest floor.
I also came upon this interesting flower on the forest floor, a pinesap. Like the Indian pipes it does not obtain it’s nourishment form photosynthesis but rather from a parasitic relationship with a fungus and oak and pine tree roots.
And I did see some wildlife on my hike too, including this red eft phase of the eastern newt,
and a few birds including this masked common yellow throat,
I was very disappointed I didn’t find any “redtop” mushrooms, we really need them for our Christmas Eve soup, but I did enjoy my time in the woods looking for them and the “ramshead” mushrooms. I once again found so much beauty on my hike and I am glad I took my camera along so I can share it with you folks who follow my blog. And I will be out there everyday, and like my dad told me, I will “keep my eyes peeled” and hopefully I will find a new “secret” area loaded with the “redtop” mushrooms. Here is a link to a gallery in my blog with some more photographs from my hike. Mushroom hike September 4 2021.
Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art a mushroom. Thomas Carlyle