This fall season mushrooms were abundantly lining the forest floor. We saw many different sizes, colors and shapes! There were the bright orange and yellow, Fly Amanitas, a 5 pound Giant Puffball, uniquely shaped Lobster Mushrooms, and the Orange Jelly on decaying wood.
Not only were the mushrooms visibly appealing but we were pleased to find out that some of these sorts were edible and quite tasty at that. We had the opportunity to go out with Kurt Mead, our resident mushroom expert to find one of the tastiest mushrooms on the north shore, the Craterellus tubaeformis, or Trumpet Chanterelle.
We learned how to identify the Trumpet Chanterelle by a few indicators: the brownish cap and pale gills, the donut like appearance of the lid leading down a hollow stem, and the conditions in which we could find them. These small mushrooms would grow in groups amongst the Sphagnum moss and fallen trees in a conifer bog. We scoured the moose trails and tiptoed over Pitcher Plants on a hunt for these tasty little mushrooms for a couple hours, catching some rare Subartic Green Darners along the way.
Our harvest was a success and we returned home with a bucketful of these chanterelles and a couple cranberries too! Upon returning our delight turned part into dismay as half of the mushrooms had resident caterpillars and worms in the base. We should have been more picky! Of course we could not be the only species that found the mushroom tasty! While on the hunt many of the chanterelles were looked over due small holes and bite marks on the cap.
As the mushroom season starts to wind down into fall it is worthwhile to reflect on the many unique mushrooms in the north shore ecosystem. There are so many to observe and pick as we hike the trails and were fortunate to have had some mushroom guides along the way to point out the safe and edible ones.
by Danielle Tikalsky and Caitlin Coghlan