Monday, May 4, 2015

Mushroom picking in Charlottesville

Morels (Morchella sculenta), lot's of them!
It is been a too long time since my last post on this blog. In the mean time a lot has happened in my life, including changing jobs, changing careers, changing city and state, getting a second kid etc (i.e. life has been busy). In any case, I think things are finally starting to settle down and I am starting to have time again to foray and explore the woods (this time in beautiful Charlottesvile, VA). Although the mushrooms in Virginia are not very different from the ones in Maryland, I still have plenty of things to learn about the local species and Charlottesville has much more accessible trails and forests than Rockville.
Jelly ear (Auricularia auricula)

Common brown cup mushroom (Peziza badio-confusa)
This last weekend I was invited by a friend for a foray and dinner on his property (what a spectacular combination), along the Rivanna River banks. As I had forayed earlier that day with my kids and had only found two morels (after a couple hours in the woods near my home), I wasn't too optimistic. Contrary to my pessimistic expectations, the foray was very productive (the most productive I have ever had) and now I have morels for a couple more dinners (yummy). Even more exciting, I learned about another easy to identify edible mushroom that I did not know.

"Cookie mushroom' (I have no idea what they are)
Some of the mushrooms I could identify this weekend were the bright yellow Witche's butter (Tremella mesenterica),  the common brown cup mushroom (Peziza badio-confusa), the interesting looking Jelly Ear mushroom (Auricularia auricula),  Devil's urn (Urnula craterium), morels (Morchella sculenta), turkey tails (Trametes versicolor) and, finally, my new and delicious friend, Pheasant's saddle a.k.a. Dryad's saddle (Polyporus squamosus). Apart from that I found a cluster of some nice looking brown mushrooms (my kids called it the 'cookie mushroom') that I could not identify (i.e. a medium sized, gilled mushroom with light brown gills, with a convex/round, pileus that is chocolate brown in color, has a velvety surface and a stipe that is brown, inserted, fibrous, hollow and fragile, no ring or volva, gregarious and growing in soil, smell is
Devil's urn (Urnula craterium)
non-descript, taste is unknown, spore print not taken).  If you happen to know what they are let me know (I'll post some photos on mushroom observer and will change this post later - assuming this is an easy to identify mushroom).

Update: According to some users at Mushroom Observer the "cookie mushroom" could be Cortinarius distans but, in this case, the gills should not be free. I'll try going back to the site and take a photo of a cross-section to confirm the type of gills and will follow-up. Also, it seems like the American morel (Morchella americana) is now a separate species from the European morel (Morchella sculenta).

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