If you’re familiar with my blog, you might have read my post “Places to Hike in Humboldt County.” Headwaters Reserve. This beautiful salmon spawning preserve has more to offer than meets the eye. Take a trip along the dirt paths that branch from the cement road, and a trained eye will see a whole ecosystem full of mushrooms.
Why forage mushrooms? Mushrooms are a fungus that grows from mycelium. There are miles of mycelium under the forest floor, a massive white fiber that communicates with trees and the rest of the duff. Mycelium grows mushrooms for different purposes, from decomposing dead material to forming partnerships with plants. Mushrooms vary in characteristics and design. Some are poisons, some induce hallucinations, and others are great in meals. When picking your mushrooms, be careful which you touch, which you eat, and which you use for medical purposes.
Are you interested in mushroom foraging but don’t know where to begin? There are a few simple steps you can take to start your mushroom adventures!
The best time to look for mushrooms is during the rainy season. Mushrooms grow in different habitats. Some thrive on trees, while others can be underneath ferns or in the dunes and your backyard. In Humboldt, Porcinis form close relationships with pine trees. You may find these and Chanterelles also under spruces. Oyster mushrooms like to expand on dead and dying alder trees. Ways to identify mushrooms is by using a book such as Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast by Noah Siegel. Other ways to identify mushrooms are taking pictures and using an app or a Facebook group. At first, it might be overwhelming. I don’t recommend searching for a specific species unless you know that it will be growing in a particular area. In identifying mushrooms it is also important to recognize the surrounding trees.
Humboldt County is a mecca for mushroom foraging. There are many trails and forests where you can find all types of shrooms! The mushroom community is supportive and will help guide you in safe foraging. While mushroom hunting, you should only take what you need, don’t take all the mushrooms (!), and leave no trace. It is bad ju-ju to sell natural resources, including mushrooms, so do it for fun and your community! My neighbor blessed me with chanterelles that we put on our steak, and it was the best meal I ever had! These kinds of actions not only put a smile on someone’s face but create memories that are not easily forgotten. Mushrooms foraging is a family sport, so grab your loved ones and head to the woods to see what you can find! You are continuing the mushroom life cycle just by walking through the terrain.
Please follow habitat guidelines. It is strictly noted not to walk off-trail at the headwaters preserve. Stick to the dirt trail!