It’s springtime, which means foraging opportunities are back in full. The prime time for tender leafy greens, chickweed, miner’s lettuce, violets, etc, is passing into a tough fibrous late-stage. But now the spring mushroom season launches.
My glee for plants and mushrooms has expanded with the acquisitions of a new phone, the Galaxy S4. With a 13 megapixel camera, it’s more of a point-and-shoot with calling capabilities than just a phone. I’ve joined Instagram and am rapidly firing off pictures of mushrooms, plants, and cats.
The first edible mushroom Eric and I ever found in Portland was the beautiful white shaggy mane. They’re very common under the old trees in the Eastmoreland neighborhood. Below is a photograph I took of a shaggy mane near OMSI. These mushrooms must be eaten immediately after harvesting or they liquefy into a black inky paste.
Eric and I attempted to find morels on Sauvie Island again this year, with only slightly more luck. Right out of the car, I found my first morel under a copse of cottonwood trees! I assumed that meant there would be plentiful morels everywhere. Eric found a half-eaten morel a few feet away.
We headed on a path toward the lighthouse. Last year, a local woman said she always found morels along this trail. The main trail splits, with the left side heading toward the river and the right side heading to the lighthouse. A man walking back to the parking area with a wicker basket on his back said he found no morels on the trail to the left. Maybe he was lying, trying to keep us out of his mushrooming site. He looked smug. We went to the left. Quickly, we ran out of cottonwood trees and ended up in a swamp. Instead of backtracking and heading to the right toward the lighthouse, we returned to the area where we found the two morels. On our way out we met a couple, who had taken the path up to the lighthouse. They found only the stumps of morels cut at the base, taken by those in the know who had come earlier.
We settled for nettles (which I burned and gagged on the next day) and lady fern fiddleheads.