There’s hope yet . . . another mushroom season begins

Like the rest of North America’s West Coast, we’ve had an exceptionally dry spring and early summer. Flowers, birds, berries—they’ve all been a few weeks early this year, and everything is scarily dry.

I’ve been away for three weeks and on my return was hesitant to go out into my Back 40, knowing the moss would be crunchy and the ground dry. But I needed my forest therapy (after a glorious but noisy and crowded holiday in Sicily), so out I went with Rica, my fantastic flying puppy.

And what should I find, in a spot where I’ve never found this mushroom before:

Velvet Pax - first of the year
Tapinella atrotomentosa – first of the year
Drying already
Velvet Pax – drying already

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(I did find a few of these Velvet Pax at this time last year, but we’d had a cool, rainy June. I certainly didn’t expect to find it in our current conditions. Usually they appear in late July through September.)

This was on its own in open sun (growing out of wood under the moss), already getting parched. Down the hill, at the base of a shady stump where I’ve found these mushrooms in previous years, was another clump that still looked as if they had some growing to do, so I’ll keep an eye on them for now. My other usual spots haven’t revealed anything yet.

Along the trail, farther along, is my nurse log for Pycnoporellus fulgens. Even though I don’t get a striking colour from these, and I usually need two years’ worth of collecting to make one dyepot, I’m always happy to see them, as they are (usually) the first harbingers of mushroom season.

Pycnoporellus fulgens
Pycnoporellus fulgens

 

Pycnoporellus fulgens
Pycnoporellus from above

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve never seen this fungus in such a huge cluster before—this one is about four inches wide. Usually it appears as a single fan, perhaps in tiers (see my post from 2009 when I first realized what it was). As always, I’ll leave this to dry over the summer and start a new stash until I have enough for another pastel dyepot.

Peach from Pycnoporellus fulgens
Peach from Pycnoporellus fulgens

I feel mushroom fever creeping into my brain!

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2 thoughts on “There’s hope yet . . . another mushroom season begins”

  1. There are not a lot of mushrooms in Southern California; any that grew in the foothills around here dried up very fast. Dyeing friends in the mountains say there are far less than in other years. So you are my only shroom-dyeing solace. Thanks for sharing. — Bjo

    1. Our mushroom season starts in late August/early September, depending on the rains. This has been such an unusually dry spring, we’re not sure what to expect. But it’s more important that we have a fabulous, rainy summer in 2016, in preparation for the Fungi & Fibre Symposium!

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