Tuesday, September 12, 2006

After the Rains, It's Mushroom Time

It wasn't the rainy season when I found the mushroom above; it would have been even better if a caterpillar with a hookah were sitting atop. But you can't have everything.

Now that we have had a couple of weeks of real rain, the ground is soaked and real mushrooms are finally popping up. Probably the two fist-sized specimens here are just a beginning; both were in my yard this past week.

I'm not a mushroom fancier; if you are, then the Arizona Mushroom Club is for you:

"The main activity of the Arizona Mushroom Club is hunting for wild mushrooms. The first forays (mushroom hunts) start in the spring (usually mid-May) when we begin searching for the elusive morel. After the summer monsoons (July-August), the club starts its second round of forays where we hunt for popular edibles such as Ceps (Boletus edulis) and Chanterelles (Chanthrellus cibarius). It is during these summer forays that a wide variety of Arizona macrofungi can be seen."

That's big, cooperative talk.

Wasn't that way back in Chicago, where mushroom sites out in the countryside were family secrets among the Polish, Bohemian and other Central European ethnics in the machine shops and factories where my engineer husband worked. One of the prize finds was the hobie -- a giant puffball -- and there was always competition as to who could locate the biggest in any year.

All this mushroom hunting presumes there's somebody who knows how to tell the delicious from the deadly. In Norway and in Poland, I saw little government-run stands out in mushroom country where the collector could ID his/her bounty.

If you want to dig deeper into the world of mycology, you might visit the Arizona Mycota Project organized by Scott Bates down at ASU. The site has a number of useful resources, including a list of the state's 1290 varieties of large fungi. Good hunting!


Lane said...

So I think back, many years ago, when 'shrooms' were one of the drugs of choice in my (then) crowd, and off we went to the country to find cow pies (the favorite growing spot), but, alas, without knowledge of what the darned things looked like...so we collected all fungi looking things in a bed sheet to sort later...it was a total bust, but we didn't die, so that was nice. Thanks for the memory!

Granny J said...

Hey, kid -- that's way scary! You one lucky puppy!

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