Wild Mushrooms found while foraging

Wild Mushrooms found while foraging
Credit: Printshop deluxe

Wild Mushroom Foraging

Importance of Correct Mushroom Fungi Identification

If you are thinking of foraging for wild mushrooms, be prepared to study and do your homework, your life depends on it.  Correct mushroom fungi identification is vital.  Even with field guides, experience and the present known information, mushroom foraging for edibles is a risk. 

There are many still unidentified wild fungi and mushrooms.  Of those known, many have unknown qualities and even whether they are edible is not known.  Many mushrooms may not necessarily be poisonous, but still are poor-tasting or texture and may not be choice or tasty.

Taking a  course at a Community College, or University Arboretum from someone experienced, along with field trips or joining a Mushroom Club is the only way to go! 

Learning the mushroom and fungus structures and variation in them can help with mushroom fungus identification.  Also being alerted to similar looking pairs of edible and poisonous mushrooms and how to recognize the characteristics that tell them apart is necessary before you pick a single mushroom.

Woven mushroom and fungi foraging baskets

Woven mushroom and fungi foraging baskets(64767)
Credit: Amazon

10 Things You Need When Wild Mushroom Foraging

  1. Professional help or wild mushroom foraging experience.  Take a course on mushroom fungi identification or go with someone experienced in harvesting edible mushrooms.  Do NOT skip this step!

  2. Wild mushroom field guides or mushroom identification books - Often just one mushrooming field guide is not enough.  Some mushrooms appear in more than one book, but others may only be found in one book or may only match the photo and description in one book. Choosing a local guide for your region is advisable.

  3. Basket or Trug - big enough, with dividers if necessary to keep the wild mushrooms separate and protect the smaller ones from the larger heavier fungi crushing them.

  4. Wax paper or brown paper sandwich bags if collecting a lot of mushrooms.  By carefully bagging the wild mushrooms, you can protect them by cushioning a little with air and also stop them getting mixed up.

  5. Single or lock blade knife - broad blade and sturdy so the blade does not bend when prying mushrooms off wood, or out of the ground.  If the entire mushroom stalk or stem is kept, it may help with identification.  Some mushrooms have a long root that goes underground that is needed for definitive identification.

  6. 10x jewellers loupe  - on a lanyard so it is not lost or left behind.  The jewellers lens can allow you to see very small structures on the surface of the mushroom or fungus that may be the only way to identify with certainty.

  7. Camera - to record locations, growth habit and habitat of collection, and take pictures of cool looking wild mushrooms.

  8. Ruler or measuring tape - for measuring the size of a wild mushroom or putting beside a fungus being photographed as a size reference.

  9. GPS or compass or whistle -  especially if you are in an unfamilar location or large forest, woods or wild area.  You will not be looking at landmarks or trees!  You will be looking at the ground for edible mushrooms and it is easy to get disoriented and lost.

  10. Sturdy walking shoes and waterproof gear for being outside in the woods.  Make sure you are comfortable and warm.

Best Times to go Wild Mushroom Foraging

Spring and autumn are traditionally the best times for wild mushroom foraging.  Some wild mushrooms only appear at certain times fo the year, for example, Morels are considered a spring mushroom.  So you may need to frequent a wood, grassy or wild area for some time before you find the particular edible fungus you want.

Another good occasion to go at other times of the year (when temperatures are not freezing)  is after a good rain.  This is because mushrooms and fungi are the fruiting bodies of fungal mycelium networks under the ground.  Once conditions are right for spore dispersal and establishment, the fruiting bodies, mushrooms and fungi are quickly sent up to produce spores and distribute them.   So you will see more wild mushrooms and fungi after a rain.

Mushrooms are so transient, there may be different wild mushrooms found at different times in the same day in the same area

Good luck on your quest!  Mushroom foraging, "a good walked spoiled".