Fungal Files

A King’s Fall

Fall 2014 has been off to a great fungal start! Substantive rains in middle-late August gave the mountains the moisture they needed to pop those primordia out of the ground. I went to last year's king bolete (Boletus edulis) patch in early September, but we only found a single button. Ten days later, the same exact date that we had great success last year, porcini were abound! We also found a decent number of hedgehogs (Hydnum repandum). There is something indescribable about finding a king bolete. Their presence in the forest is a sight to behold. Here's to hoping that the remainder of the fall is as productive as the beginning!

Picking to Dye

Last fall, my passion for mushroom hunting infected my girlfriend; she is now into mushroom hunting, but not for the table. She has become part of the cult that dyes fabrics, namely yarn, with fungi! I know what you're thinking: all mushrooms are brown and boring. False! As it turns out, the impressive diversity of fungi yields a continuous rainbow of colors, more than your Adobe Illustrator palette of 256 colors has to offer. And don't forget that "fungi" also include the symbiotic biomasses of blue-green algae and fungus that we call "lichens". A few lichens give really sweet colors, from the highlighter green of a fresh tennis ball to a pretty fuschia. Check out some of the photos to the right for some of the coveted fungal species used in dyeing.
As fate would have it, I am now also hooked on finding these dyeing fungi! Now I have dozens of species to look out for, instead of a mere handful that are worthwhile edibles. We are just starting to get into the fall mushroom season here in the Seattle area, and hopefully it will be another good fall like last year. Keep your eyes out for more posts as the season goes on!