In the last few weeks it has FINALLY started raining in California! Huzzah! That means I can start posting pictures of my local mushroom hunting adventures rather than having all my mushroom hunting pictures come from Oregon. My advisor, Tom, my lab mate, Akiko, and my co-GSI (graduate student instructor), Vince, and I went out mushroom hunting in Point Reyes National Seashore last week to collect mushrooms for the California Mushrooms final.
The ground was absolutely COVERED in mushrooms. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an abundance of mushrooms in a single location before. There were huge swaths of ground covered in Pholiota velaglutinosa. This is what it looks like up close!
This would have been a good spot to study fungal competition because there were huge areas of ground covered in Pholiota and then right next to it were mountains of Gymnopilus, another wood decay species, but there was very little intermixing between the species.
These are all wood decay mushrooms competing with each other for the wood chips that were covering the ground next to where they had obviously done some recent tree felling and wood chipping. Interspersed with the Pholiota and Gymnopilus were huge swaths of Hygrophoropsis auriantiaca.
These mushrooms can be super sneaky because they are known as the false chanterelle. From afar they can trick you and you get excited thinking they are chanterelles, but they you pick them and see that they have gills instead of dull ridges and are usually much brighter orange and have inrolled margins. What do you think, did it trick you?
After tromping through the wood chips and glorying in the masses of wood decay (and unfortunately unedible) mushrooms, we left to the oak forests in search of ectomycorrhizal fungi. We came across some beautiful Laccaria amethysteo-occidentalis which are in mutualistic relationships with the oak and pine trees in Point Reyes.
While these mushrooms are technically edible I personally have never eaten them before. I just love to admire them for their beauty. Look how purple!!!
We found tons of little mushroom treasures! Here is my tackle box that I use to protect the smaller and more delicate mushrooms while we are tromping around. Can you recognize any of these species in this box?
While hiking around we stumbled upon perhaps the most exciting find of the day – a veritable forest of Amanita muscaria!
These are the typical fairy tale mushrooms famous from Mario Kart and for giving Alice her trippy experience in Wonderland. They are also stunningly beautiful.
We pretty much couldn’t contain ourselves from the excitement of finding so many beautiful mushrooms. Here is my co-GSI vince doing his best Gollum impression.
Luckily my lab mate Akiko is also a talented artist and came up with some creative photography ideas. Thanks Akiko Carver – this probably should be an ad for Berkeley mycology, no?
We really had fun with Amanita muscaria photography. I wouldn’t recommend eating them raw unless you want to vomit, hallucinate, and have terrible diarrhea and stomach pains, but aren’t they beautiful??? I did actually eat them at David Arora’s house, but there is a fancy detoxifying process that involves boiling them in water for 7 minutes, dumping the water, boiling again for 7 minutes, then dumping the water again, before you can cook and eat them.
We were seriously so excited to find so many beautiful mushrooms that we were all pretty much buzzing from a mushroom high. Mushroom hunting is so fun! Bolstered by the exciting forest of Amanita muscaria find, Akiko and Vince were adventurous enough that they were willing to climb this steep hill in search of more mushrooms. See kids – we worked hard to collect mushrooms for your exam!
While we did not find any prized edibles, we still had a lot of fun collecting mushrooms in Point Reyes, and we found a lot of interesting mushrooms for the California Mushrooms final. Hopefully the students agreed! Thanks to Akiko and Vince for help with the mushroom photography and for wonderful mushroom hunting companionship :)