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Hello folks! I'm a lucky newbie to wild mushroom forging. I've posted some pictures on the facebook sites, so apologize for double post, but just wanted to share some pictures of a recent find and some background information.

For the last few years I've had shitake logs that have produced some, about 30 this fall, which was the largest harvest yet. After a heavy period of rain this past spring and then again in the fall, a mushroom explosion in our back 1 acre forest got me thinking hard about forging in the wild. We've been in the self suffiency mindset for a few years now and this hobby is a natural progression towards that goal. Anyhow, the first trip to a local park in Oct did not net anything other than some experience picking out mushrooms from distance. I was most amazed at how many there were if you just looked at the ground closely. The second trip was one of the most amazing experiences that led to this ephipany that free wild food in the form of mushrooms is as easy as a Sunday walk in the woods. As I walked down the trail a few white clusters caught my eye. Now my shitake logs grew something similar that must have been a mixed up plug of hericium erinaceus, so the heart started beating harder and sure enough, my first legit wild mushrooms, two lions mane about six inches in diameter. An hour later while making the turn around a large oak, two clusters of mushrooms were grown at the base. Sure enough, two 5 lb clusters of maitake. With a basket more than full, I left complelely euphoric.

Since, I've been back a few times and idenfified a couple of down trees with oysters, but after a cold Oct and Nov, pretty much figured mushrooms would not be back until spring until last week when my new mushroom id book spoke about oysters being one of the few that flush during warmer winter periods. The next day by chance I was walking our fence line trying to find where our dogs broke through the fence and low and behold, a small fresh cluster of oysters. I just had to go back to see if some of the trees from Oct were producing. Here are some pictures prove that even after some really cold weeks of weather, you can find oyster mushrooms in NC during the colder months of the year. These were two weeks ago... went yesterday (Dec 22) and found a couple more like this producing.


Charger the mushroom dog showing off his find :-)

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Those Oysters look to be at prime maturity, and meaty! Most of the very best Oysters I have found have been late in the season, which means November up here in PA.

That's quite a great start to learning edible wild mushrooms, coastwx. Grifola (Maitake), Hericium, and Pleurotus (Oysters) are all good types for a beginner to learn.

There are a few types which a beginner may confuse with Pleurotus... Pleurocybella porrigens (Angel Wings) is whiter, and not as robust as Pleurotus. It grows on coniferous wood and has a pure white spore print. Dire reports from Japan --and I believe some subsequent research-- has cast doubt upon the edibility of this species. I used to eat Angel Wings, but I pass them by now. Lentinellus species are bitter/acrid tasting. Crepidotus types are smaller and more fragile, with brown spore prints. Hypsizygus species usually have a short stem. Panellus stipticus tastes bitter. But Panellus serotinus (Late Fall Oyster) is edible; some people like it, some don't. Hohenbuehelia species are also somewhat similar.

One type mushroom that resembles Maitake is Black Staining Polypore, Meripilus sumstinei. It is edible, just not as highly-regarded as Grifola.

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Much appreciated Dave! I'm going to make a list of these look-a-likes you mention and find pictures in the field guide to make sure, especially as I find new spots in the area.

This spot though does seem like a gold mine. Lots of trails, down trees, streams and an area of wetlands.

Here is a pic of the haul from Oct. Almost all Grifola were dehydrated. I've been using in various rubs for chicken and pork. In hindsight probably made a mistake getting these coral mushrooms. The Audobon guide indicated most of these are not eatible or if so, not tasty.

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Those did look like some good oysters. I collected a lot of oysters back in June. Oysters seemed to everywhere but almost everything I harvested was maggot infested. I did get some good ones but not near as many pest free specimens as I do in a normal year.

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After there's been some cold weather, types of mushrooms that are often infested are found insect-free. Oysters are one example. Also, Boletus edulis and Armillaria (Honeys). Often there's a nice flush of King Boletes late September into October, and these are pure white-fleshed inside. The November Oysters are the largest, most robust, and with the fewest insects that I find.

Corals are mostly a confusing lot. There are a few Ramaria species that are sought-after edibles in western NA. Here in eastern NA Crown-tipped Coral (Atromyces pyxidatus = Clavicorona pyxidata) is eaten by some people. I have tried it but found it somewhat insubstantial after being cooked. Clavulina criatata is an edible species that I haven't got around to trying. Ramarias are the fleshiest of the corals, but our local varieties are bitter and reportedly toxic. Corals, though, are quite beautiful.

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Those are some pretty corals Dave.

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NC saw several warm days peaking in the 70's just before Christmas with two days of rainfall. We've had two nights below freezing since, but another two days of really heavy rain. Looks like early Jan is going to be real cold, so I decided to take a hike (Dec 30) and see if the down trees are still producing.

As I got on the trail and headed towards the big poplar that has been my main producer, a white flash to the left 100 yards away caught my eye. It ended up being another large poplar covered with mostly old oyster mushroom. The cool thing... as I was hunkered down in cover collecting whatever younger oysters I could find, two deer ran up. They looked quite surprised as I rose out of the heavy cover. Anyhow, this tree produced a couple, but I was late on the main flush.

When back to my main poplar and it's still going strong. I took maybe 1/3rd of the younger ones and left the rest. Here is one of the main clusters.

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Next, I decided to take a trail that has not been explored yet. It only took 200 yards and pile of cut up hardwood had these prime oysters.

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Finished off the hike on a trail I've been on quite a bit in the last few months, but not producing much. Found this single large oyster on a log that produced back in Oct. I also identified a number of other recently down poplars in a different area that has yet to produce. One has a small cluster of oysters, so these trees will likely produce down the road.

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Here is the final accounting. Dried half, sauteed and froze some and kept the larger ones for the grill.

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Curious and looking through my guide now, but found these mushroom on the same poplar limb as oysters. Galerina autumnalis maybe??

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Galerina marginata (formerly G. autumnalis) has a rusty brown spore print. The robust carmel-colored wood-inhabiting mushrooms seen in the bottom photo look more like Flammulina velutipes, to me. No rings on the stalks. A thick pure white spore print should be observed to support the F. velutipes proposal. The ones seen here lack the darkened stalk bases which is a character often associated with F. veutipes. I have seen examples like this.

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Thanks for the information Dave!

My wife grilled some a few weeks ago based on recipe in The Complete Mushroom Hunter. Just a little olive oil, salt/pepper and parsley I think.

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Thanks for the information Dave!

My wife grilled some a few weeks ago based on recipe in The Complete Mushroom Hunter. Just a little olive oil, salt/pepper and parsley I think.

Thanks!

I wonder if they would work as a mushroom pizza base like a portabello? The oysters I have cooked have been a little tough, but it might be fun to find out!

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My favorite things to do with Oysters are...

1. Saute with onions/sweet peppers, salt/pepper, and then layer in a casserole dish with Jack or cheddar cheese. Top with white sauce (Bechamel) and bake for half an hour or so.

2. Combine with small scallops in an Asian style gingered soup. Or prepare similar to the soup, except add a few more veggies, thicken, and serve over boiled white rice.

3. Scallop/Oyster Mushroom Bisque, made by sauteing thinly ripped Oyster Mushrooms in butter, gently cooking the scallops in butter heated with a double boiler, and then adding the mushroom saute and half & half into the double boiler. Heat throughout and serve. You may also add an egg yolk while cooking on the DB for extra richness.

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Thank you, Dave. Those are keepers! I'm copying them and hoarding them until my next oyster find.

I appreciate your taking the time to share them!

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After two days of heavy rain, 4 inches total I decided to take a hike on the same trails that produced the oysters above. Since we just had two 10 deg nights I had little to no expectation of finding new mushrooms. The two 10 deg nights took their toll, but even after that cold, a few that were more protected on the bottom sides of the logs were still in good shape. We made a dry oyster mushroom rub with some of our dried chilies, cumin, mustard seed and touch of star anise, salt and pepper for a roasted pork loin and added the fresh oysters shrooms, carrots and a couple of turnips from the garden. I have to add that we invited our neighbor for dinner and I got a smile on my face when he started raving about the mushrooms and said "I've never known anyone that goes out in the woods hunting for wild mushrooms" :-)

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Great report, coastwx! I'm surprised some of the oysters survived that temperature.

At least you have friends who will eat your wild mushrooms. Mine are all too afraid that I might poison them to try them!

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Great thread...winter oysters are often thought of as the best of all by many. Remember where you are finding all these, because they should all come back in these same spots next season.

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We've had a week of mild temps with a lot of moisture recently. No expectations, but did my Sunday morning hike/dog walk yesterday. Nothing new as expected, but did locate a number of new targets for the warm season. One log had a number of old reishi. Another with old turkey tail as well as some more oyster targets. Explored a low land area just packed with mature poplar that may present some morel in Apr-May. Getting a bit excited about my first morel hunt. May even do a weekend hike-camp in the Linville Gorge area of WNC where the big wild fire was last year.

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Sounds interesting, coastwx. As far as I know, burn-site morels are not commonly found here in eastern NA. But if you're near an area where there was a large wildfire last year, then maybe it's worth a try. In the Rockies and Cascades Fire Morels are generally found in pine forests. Areas near the perimeter of the burn --they call it the "red needle zone"-- are often best.

Not sure when the best time is to hunt morels in NC. Elevation probably is a factor. But I'd guess that late March through April is generally a productive time there. I'd guess that morels are mostly finished in NC by the time May rolls around. Mature Tulip Poplar woods sounds like a good bet. Here in PA I get blacks and a couple different types of yellows in Tulip Poplar/White Ash woods. Probably not a lot of White Ash as far south as NC.

Still a foot of icy snow in my backyard.

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Informative comments Dave. I may rethink the mountain trip or do a bit later, early summer, when many other types will be flushing. I really have zero clue about morels in this area near Raleigh, but saw one site last year where some reported finds in close proximity. This trail system I've been working has multiple mature tulip poplar stands, so seems like the best bet.

Question, are oysters known to flush in early to mid spring if the weather is warm and wet?

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Here in PA I get Pleurotus as early as mid April, but more commonly they start up in May. There is often a couple weeks when they are common. Then when the weather starts to become hotter there aren't too many. They seem to like warm days, somewhat cool nights, and abundant rainfall. I have found them during almost every month April-December. But the mid spring and the mid to late autumn seems best. These mushrooms represent a complex of related species. So it may be that some types favor higher temps than other types.

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I am not even going to think about morels this year. I did not collect my first morels last year until after the first week of June. We have had blizzards the last two out of three years on May 1st. We got up to 1 F today. I have two more mornings of -20 to -27 look forward to this week. I can't wait for spring but it is still a couple months away for me.

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My first sign on and boy do I have high hopes for this site. Just got into shrooms last fall. Bought Stamets' book Growing Mushrooms, looked around the net, and felt safe in iding a few types. So far I've found lots of oysters and turkey tails, two large Lions Manes growing 12 feet up a dead oak, a large oak with ten or so Reishis, one prime Puffball, and about a dozen Black Trumpets too old to harvest. I've hauled a big oak log that had a few oysters growing on it near the house to make it easier to shade and water it. Am thinking of buying some dowels to get some others started but really love tromping the woods to find 'em.

coastwx, I read about the oysters growing on poplar but so far none around here in central NC. Is that common where you are?

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Nice to see another forger close Hunter! I have exactly 5 months experience as well. Yes, at the spot I've been working, all oysters were found on poplar. I did see one at another spot that was growing on poison oak vine up higher, but the ones collected were on fairly fresh down poplar Oct to Dec with Dec being the best crop because of the lack of slugs and snails. Just to back that up, a small section poplar we downed several years ago in our yard flushed with oysters in Dec after a heavy rain period. Keep looking for the down poplars. The big one in the picture at the start of the thread did not flush until Dec, but I noticed two months prior it was white with mycelium. Even if you don't see oysters, inspect any down poplar for mycelium and revisit.

Great to hear of your luck. I was thrilled to find those 2 big hen of the woods as well as 3 lions mane in this same spot back during that wet period in Oct. Sounds like we both got turned on by that good flush period. I have about an acre of woods in my back yard, so did purchase 500 lions mane plugs. I cut a smallish oak and sweetgum that were under bigger trees and plugged them with the lions mane a few months ago, and have 8 or 10 shitake logs. However, as I told the wife, if forging is as productive as it was last year, there is probably no reason to farm them as we'll be able to find enough in the wild for our annual personal use. Cheers!

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I need to correct myself. As you can see in the Dec 31 post on previous page, one of the trees was some other hardwood... a hickory I believe.

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