I regularly look at what search terms people are using causing them to land on this little island in the sun. Lately, there have been many searches for Ontario mushrooms, best time to pick mushrooms, pictures of edible mushrooms Ontario and so on. I’ve been posting pictures of the mushrooms I’ve been collecting all summer but hardly anyone has been searching for them until recently.
There is a common belief that fall is the time for mushroom picking, and there is no doubt there are a lot of mushrooms around during the fall season. In some parts of North America, the fall brings much needed rains and the rains bring mushrooms. It’s a little different around here in Ontario. There are edible mushrooms available in the forests where I live throughout the spring summer and fall. The mix of what is available changes along the way.
Now is the time for the shaggy manes, the honey mushrooms (and related to them, the aborted entoloma), the Hypsizygus, and if you know where to find them, the king bolete. (Those of you who know some good spots for king boletes should immediately create a detailed map and send it to me, for research purposes only, you understand.) Some people find parasol mushrooms. Salvelinas and I saw some people with a big haul of russulas. That one is a mystery to me because I have trouble identifying them to species. I’ve heard that some people use taste to decide which are the good ones, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to go down that road. I know there are other edible species around, but I haven’t learned to identify them yet. My goal is to learn a few more species each year, and one day I might find the fall holds more fungal treasures than I thought.
The lobster mushrooms are finishing and once we get a good frost, I think that will be the end of them. It’s been weeks since I’ve seen a chanterelle. I checked some spots that are usually good for hedgehogs the other day and there were none, so perhaps that season is past too. The summer boletes are gone, and in fact on Sunday, I don’t think I saw a single bolete of any variety when I was out in the woods.
There is also a hazard for the intrepid fall mushroom hound, and that is hunting season. Through the fall various animals are “in season” and fair game for hunters. Hunters make me nervous. Each year people are accidentally killed by hunters who mistake some movement in the woods for a turkey or a bear or a deer. One of my Newfoundland dogs, Ellie Mae, looks not unlike a bear as she ambles through the woods. Some people will say, hey Mister Anchovy, you’re giving hunters a bad rap here. They’re careful and responsible and would never shoot at anything they were not 100% sure of. Perhaps it is true. I don’t want to take a chance.
Each year there are numerous reports of people being accidentally shot in the woods. Apparently quite a number of hunters die after falling from tree stands too but that’s another story. Anyway, as we get into the fall, I start to worry about having my dogs in the woods. In fact, on Sunday I stopped at one forest and before I even let the dogs out of the car, I heard three shots in the woods, causing me to put my basket back in the car and high-tail it to a different forest.
I find plenty of mushrooms throughout the summer months and into September. I’ll be watching for shaggy manes, and I may make another couple trips into the woods without Memphis and Ellie Mae, but while mushroom season seems to ramping up for some people, soon I’ll be hanging up my baskets until spring.