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It's Mushroom Time on the Oregon Coast

Mushroom enthusiasts go in search of fungi in the Cape Perpetua Wilderness. Photo by Sue Fagalde Lick. Fog shrouds the forest south of Cape Perpetua as an adventurous group of would-be mushroom hunters follow National Forest Service Interpreter Don Burnett through ferns and firs, scanning the ground for golden Chanterelles and meaty King Boletes. No one seems to care about the mud coating their shoes, not when the woods are full of treasures.

September through December is mushroom season on the Central Oregon Coast. Seemingly overnight, they pop up in the forests and in our yards. Knowledgeable mushroomers grab their baskets and go collecting, visions of a mushroom feast in their heads. And in Yachats, it's time for the annual mushroom festival.

On Oct. 19-20, members of the Lincoln County Mycological Society and the North American Truffling Society hosted their third annual festival. Events included displays at the Cape Perpetua Visitors Center, mushroom cooking demonstrations, mushroom-filled specials at local restaurants, and guided mushroom hikes.

The King Bolete, which looks a lot like a hamburger bun, is tasty and abundant on the Central Coast. Photo by Sue Fagalde Lick. Due to this year's unusually dry summer and fall, the hikers were not allowed to pick, only to observe and learn about the local mushroom crops. Education is key in mushroom foraging. Some mushrooms are safe and delicious to eat, but others are poisonous. Not knowing the difference could be deadly.

Chanterelles, which Mycological Society guide Carol Coulton described as gold nuggets because their orange-yellow color makes them stand out among the leaves and pine needles, are not only edible but extremely tasty. Many of the Boletes, which look a lot like hamburger buns on sticks, are also good eating. However, some of the most attractive mushrooms, such as the red and white Fly Agaricus and the red russula, could kill a person. Others are safe but taste bad.

Whether one hunts mushrooms for food or fun, they appear in amazing variety in Oregon's coastal forests. Look closely to see tiny bird's nest mushrooms that look like little white tubes and others that look like miniature hats. Scan the feet of Douglas firs and western hemlocks for russulas in many different colors, cauliflower mushrooms that resemble white coral, and hedgehogs that look like their namesakes. One might find red-orange lobster mushrooms, giant white puffballs, and candy caps. In the spring, pine mushrooms, also called Matsutakes, appear.

Called Fried Chicken, these mushrooms are not very tasty. Photo by Sue Fagalde Lick. Mushroom hunters, like other types of hunters, need to check on local regulations before heading into the woods. In the Cape Perpetua wilderness area between Yachats and Florence, one can pick two gallons of mushrooms per day without a permit, Burnett says.

One should not pick or eat any mushroom without being absolutely certain that it is safe. Many books are available at local stores and park gift shops. Lane Community College, (541) 997-8444, offers courses in mushroom identification. Information is also available at Oregon State University Extension Service, (541) 574-6534 or (888) 350-2125.

The Lincoln County Mycological Society meets on the second Wednesday of the month in Otter Rock. Member activities include monthly field trips, educational presentations, and mushroom feasts. For information, call (541) 996-3103.

If you'd like to sample different types of mushrooms without the hike, stop by the local farmers' markets, visit Rainforest Mushrooms in Eddyville, 206666 Highway 20, (541) 875-2026, or contact Waldport mushroom grower Marjie Millard, (541) 563-7371, mmillard@pacificonline.net.


Copyright © October 26, 2002 by Sue Fagalde Lick

Coast Impressions Online Magazine for the Central Oregon Coast
Published by Newport Internet
News Director: Kiera Morgan