August 14, 2007

I Have BEEN to the Mountain, Children!

If I believed in heaven, I'd be pretty sure I found one specially set aside for mycologists and mushroom fanciers today. I won't say exactly where the place is other than saying that its somewhere on or near Wachusett Mountain.

I had planned on spending the whole day there, but I found so much diversity that I couldn't carry anymore specimens. I've come home not only with specimens, but also with the ingredients for an amazing wild mushroom-centric dinner. Included in this are about 5 lbs. of Laetiporus sulphureus (chicken mushroom), a couple of pounds of Craterellus cornucupoides (black trumpets), at least a pound of Cantharellus cibarius (golden chanterelle), and a good amount of Lactarius hygrophoroides (an edible milky cap). I also found a number of Strobilomyces of yet-to-be-determined species. This was a surprise; I haven't seen them since I left south Florida and I thought they only grew in hot climates. I'll do a full ID later. I didn't even bother gathering any significant number of the various boletes I saw, including at least one species of Suillus (slippery jack). I found some beautiful amanitas, too, one species of which may well be Caesar's amanita — not that I plan on eating that one. Too risky.

There are going to be a lot of pictures once I've managed to ID everything and process the raw images. A lot of photos and notes.

I have forayed on three coasts now, and the place I was at today was the single most incredible place I've ever been in terms of diversity and sheer numbers of mushrooms. The hardest thing about today was avoiding tripping over fungi. If there were a mushroom god, I'm sure he'd be living atop Wachusett.

I'd better get cracking on this stuff; my lab is going on a foray in Connecticut tomorrow to a place that's come highly recommended, so I expect I'll have more stuff after that. Plus I have to make dinner. I think I'll do sulfur shelf parmegiana for starters...

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