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SOMA Camp- Occidental, CA


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Last month over the long MLK Jr. weekend, I travelled back to my old stomping grounds of the San Francisco Bay Area to attend SOMA Camp, organized by the Sonoma County Mycological Association. It is held at the CYA Camp in Occidental, CA north west of San Francisco in the redwood forests. It's a gorgeous area and luckily for us, there had been lots of beneficial rains prior to our arrival.

Since I lived in the SF Bay Area for 15 plus years, I still have lots of friends there, so one of the days before camp, I went out picking with a couple friends of mine who took me on a chanterelle hike from ######, down steep ravines and skinny little deer paths on steep hills to a creek where chanterelles were at their peak and fresh and in perfect condition. Along the way we found some candy caps too (Lactarius rubidus).

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That night we came back, showered off all the poison oak and cooked a feast of chanterelles, and duck breasts with candy cap popcorn for dessert.

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Then it was time for camp. There were so many classes offered, it was ridiulously hard to decide which one to take as there were many that occured at the same time with conflicting schedules. The first two days I just took classes all day and made oyster mushroom and Hericium kits to bring home. The last day, we went on our own foray to the redwoods so I could try and find some Gliophorus psittacinus (aka parrot mushroom) I found them in the redwoods right on the property where we had camp.

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Here are some other mushrooms I found and photographed:

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This is a creme brûlée I made after I got home and dried my candy caps and then I made a candy cap souffle too!

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Sorry about the unorganization of the bottom half...those were photos I didn't add myself to the post, but I'd already uploaded, so I left them. The oyster kits have fruited twice yielding around 3 pounds of mushrooms. I've had a few nice fruitings of Hericium too. I went with my friend Annette to Half Moon Bay one day and we bought fresh live Dungeness crabs from a fisherman right off the boat and took them home and cooked them.

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Those are some vivid Parrots! I wonder if the orange ones with the green blotches on the cap are the variety known as perplexus? Bizarre the way the colors in this species complex can be so strikingly different.

I found a patch of Parrots at the NEMF foray in Maine last summer.


Seems to be uncommon in my local area. But I have found them a few times. Older dry specimens often lack much of the color. These tiny ones were found last fall in a gravelly area near my driveway.


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Thanks ladyflyfish. Other than psittacinus (formerly Hygrocybe) and the H. conica types (red with black stains) I don't recall ever seeing Hygrocybe with strongly defined areas of highly contrasted color. Of course, I don't know California mushrooms. So many species are so different from here in eastern NA.

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Look at these red ones. The redwoods were loaded with all kinds of waxy caps. I wish I'd had more time to take photos there. I saw some brilliant yellow ones when chanterelle picking, but that day was nuts. It was all I could do to not fall down into a ravine that day, so not a lot of picture taking even though I dragged my camera with me.


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