Mushroom Hunting


August and September are generally rainy months here, bringing out the mushrooms in abundance. One of my favorites is the meadow mushroom, Agricarus campestris, but the local field where I used to harvest them was renovated into a soccer field a few years ago, and the crop never came back.

This year, I found a couple of mushrooms I hoped might be meadow mushrooms. Since it has been a couple of years since I’ve found any, I decided to play it safe and double check my identification.The cap is a little browner than I remember, and the stalk a little thicker, but meadow mushrooms can be slightly brown according to my field guide.spore print

The best way to verify that this mushroom is not a deadly Amanita is to take a spore print. I placed the cap on a white sheet of paper overnight, hoping the print came back dark brownish black, not white.

Alas, the spore print came back a pale reddish brown; not an Amanita, but not solidly enough a meadow mushroom for me to risk eating it (the poisonous Western Flat-topped Agaricus has a chocolate spore print.) The mushroom may or may not be edible — I’d rather not find out the hard way.

Puff ball mushrooms discovered on the way to the chicken coop

Puff ball mushrooms discovered on the way to the chicken coop

On the positive note, I do have puffballs in the yard – an easy identification! Mushroom omelet, anyone?

Disclaimer: If you want to try your hand harvesting wild mushrooms, I strongly encourage you to find a knowledgeable group or a mentor for mushroom hunting in your area. A close friend of mine had a dog who ate a poisonous mushroom this summer. The poor creature died in the vet’s office only a few hours later. I don’t want any of you to get sick, so exercise caution, please.

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