Orange Peel Fungus: Surprisingly Edible

  Walk around clearings, forest roads, and even gravel driveways in fall, and you might just run across the orange peel fungus (Aleuria aurantia). It does look very much like a piece of discarded orange peel sitting on the ground, both in color and texture, which makes it easy to overlook. While it isn’t the […]

Slippery Jacks: Skin ‘Em and Eat ‘Em

Fall brings an abundance of pored mushrooms, from Boletus to Leccinum to Xerocomellus. Among the edibles are the Suillus species, or slippery jacks. While not all are edible, and not all that are edible are tasty, they often grow in abundance when they pop up, so they’re worth keeping an eye out for.  All slippery […]

Honey Mushrooms, a Bittersweet Find

Note: Because Armillaria species are quite similar to some inedible “little brown mushrooms”, to include the highly toxic deadly galerina (Galerina marginata), and because they can sometimes cause some gastric upset in their own right, this mushroom is not suitable for beginning mushroom hunters, and should be collected and identified with caution. The term honey […]

The Highly Prized Matsutake Mushroom

Of the many edible wild mushrooms to be found in North America, certain species are especially sought-after both by hobbyists and commercial mushroom hunters. One of the most valued is the matsutake mushroom. There are several species that may be called matsutakes, all of which are in the genus Tricholoma. The two that will be […]

Morels: Worth the Effort!

The morel may be considered the queen of the wild mushrooms according to many North American mushroom foragers. It’s full of flavor, but can be difficult to consistently find, and is (almost) impossible to cultivate. All of these traits make it pricey whenever it appears in local markets, and it’s a prized find for personal […]

Saffron Milk Caps: Brightly Colored and Delicious

Walking among the shore pines along the Washington coast in fall is likely to yield my favorite edible mushroom: the saffron milk cap (Lactarius deliciosus). This bright orange mushroom has a depression in the center of the cap, and the edges roll under. Some specimens may begin to take on a bit of a greenish […]

Chicken of the Woods: A Little Care and a Lot of Flavor

There’s really nothing like chicken of the woods (Laetiporus spp.). Also known as the sulfur shelf, this large mushroom looks quite a bit like a big stack of orange and yellow pancakes bursting out of the side of a tree. In larger flushes, you might find more than a dozen individual “shelves” growing out of […]

Lobster Mushrooms: Two Fungi in One

Should you find yourself walking through a conifer forest in late summer or autumn, keep your eyes open for a splash of dark orange or red on the ground–it’s lobster mushroom season! The surface often has a crusty texture, like a lobster’s shell, and the concave cap can be quite twisted and warped. But cut […]

Chanterelles: A Highly Prized Edible Mushroom

Among the most highly prized mushrooms are the chanterelles. These trumpet-shaped mushrooms are flavorful and firm, and generally have false gills that are thicker and shallower than the true gills found on many other mushrooms that look like pages in a book. The chanterelle’s false gills are often also forked at one end. Their name […]

Oyster Mushrooms: Beginner-Friendly to Find and Grow

If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly mushroom with a lot of culinary versatility, try the oyster mushroom! The best-known oyster mushroom is Pleurotus ostreatus; while it is found widely in temperate and subtropical forests, it may also occur in the same habitats as the summer oyster (Pleurotus pulmonarius) and aspen oyster (Pleurotus populinus). All three […]

The Tangled History of Willow Tea

For decades many people’s response to a pounding headache has been to take a couple of aspirin with some water. What most don’t realize is that this reliable medicine is derived from salicylic acid (or salicin), a compound found in many plants such as myrtle, poplar, and willow trees. Although many modern pharmaceutical drugs are […]

Peppermint Twist: The Roots of a Favorite Holiday Flavor

peppermint tea

The holiday season is full of all sorts of iconic foods and flavors, from Christmas oranges and braided breads, to latkes and gelt at Hanukkah, to holiday feasts featuring favorite dishes on tables around the world. Perhaps the best-known taste of the winter holidays, at least in the West, is peppermint. It infuses sugary candy […]

A Brief History of the Pumpkin – From Ice-age Megafauna to New England Pumpkin Pie

The star of the autumn garden is the pumpkin! This iconic squash’s round shape and bright orange color are found in imagery surrounding harvest festivals all through the season, to include modern American favorites Halloween and Thanksgiving. Pumpkin pie is a beloved dessert for fall festivities, though the squash also lends itself well to soups, […]

Hail to the King: Introducing the King Bolete

two mushrooms, both brown, one with a much smaller stalk and one with a much thicker one, on a wooden table

Fall is a fabulous time for fungi, particularly in the temperate forests and meadows of the northern hemisphere. And there are few mushrooms that are as impressive—and widely appreciated—as the king bolete (Boletus edulis). King boletes are found in forests and nearby clearings; in the United States they are most common on both the east […]