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Portland Blog: This Week in Portland November 9 - November 16 2013



Weclome to another edition of this all-local Portland blog and welcome to autumn in Oregon. The days are shorter, the nights are cooler and it seems we are all hunkering down for a little winter hibernation. I'm looking forward to a long season of lazy afternoon brewery crawls, farm fresh winter vegetable pot roasts, afternoons and evenings at beer theaters for cheap flicks, great hikes in the rain and some snowshoeing and skiiing up at Mt. Hood. I love this time of year just as much as I love our other seasons.


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Notes from a Nomad: Mushrooms...Now what?!

Rachel Carlson




noun: mushroom; plural noun: mushrooms

1. a fungal growth that typically takes the form of a domed cap on a stalk, often with gills on the underside of the cap.

2. a pale pinkish-brown color.

Portland Oregon mushrooms

Happy November!

Mushroom foraging in the Pacific Northwest. What.the.heck. While I've only been here a short two years I still hear of this yearly obsession with going out in the forest in the autumn season to hunt for mushrooms. True story. Don't ever look at an Oregonian in the face and act like they have five heads when they say they're going mushroom hunting. Instead, take it all in, drool over their stories and wish like crazy that they take you on their next adventure....crossing fingers for next year.

While mushroom foraging season in the Pacific Northwest has come and gone, I still get excited when I’m on a trail and see a mushroom worthy of photographing, studying and/or wishing little gnomes would rush out and greet me. I KNOW....let me explain though and get the ‘wishful thinking’ out of the way first…when I think of mushrooms, what I like to call ‘toadstools’, I imagine a humble community of hearty, diligent and pot-belly gnomes rushing about keeping the moss in the forest nicely manicured, the fallen leaves and twigs strategically placed and their toadstools at the ready if they need shelter from the rain, a canopy to relax under when they need to take a break or a stalk to hide behind when humans like us are traipsing through their forest. I want to imagine that gnomes are always on the go after all. Hence the reason we never really ‘see’ them. Wishful thinking in the forest is always in high supply for me, no mushroom influence necessary.

Portland mushrooms

I mean COME ON....can you NOT see a gnome coming out of this door in a log. I'm imagining an address plaque to the right there with a red and white striped awning at the top of the door and a spiral staircase winding down to the forest floor. Work with me people!!

Now that I have officially lived in the Pacific Northwest for two years and my curiosity for mushroom foraging has heightened, I ventured out with two friends to at least partake in ‘mushroom peeping’ last month. Even though the season (September/October) for mushroom hunting has come and gone I still get excited when I’m on a trail and see them just about everywhere. While we intended to take a hike as well, it turned into more of a mushroom quest to find what I lovingly refer to as a ‘toadstool’ specimen, you know the kind, white trunk, red top with spots....the kind fairy tales are made of.

mushroom hunting oregon

Such as THESE in the photo above. It was a golden moment when I captured this species behind the lens. The species that my 'forest fairy tales' are made of. The one thing I have learned, while RED being my favorite color, it also means 'red is dead' with certain flora in nature...WELL, in most cases. Take the above specimen: Amanita Muscaria, such a fancy name for such a lovely and toxic fungi. The Amanita mushroom prefers to commune with deciduous and coniferous trees. Um HELLO, this is the Pacific Northwest after all where the seasons change and where many species of conifers reside. I never thought I would see an Amanita in the forest and I'm so glad that it is one that is indigenous to this area.

So now that I have the 'forest fairytale' out of the way let's get down to the serious business of mushrooms...

Edible vs toxic: and let me just say, do not EVER forage for mushrooms unless you are wearing gloves and actually know what you are picking. I have saved this future endeavor for next year as I would like to partake in a mushroom foraging workshop, YES they are available after all. As much research as I have done already I think I'll be set for next season at any rate.

While the Amanita has been known to be a hallucinogenic specimen it is also highly toxic. It takes up to 15 caps for it to be a deadly dose. The spots do at times wash off with rain showers but don't let that fool you.

Portland Oregon mushroom hunting


See how 'cute' they might appear with no spots. You've been warned.

Edible: Ah, the sought after Cantharellus cibarius commonly known as the chanterelle, golden chanterelle or girolle. The kind we find at farmer's markets or grocery stores. You are one lucky mushroom hunter if you discover a patch of these in the forest.

Portland OR mushroom hunting

The not so elusive Chanterelle above. I think this might have been the only specimen spotted that day since we were in an area where three boys with buckets had been hunting already and probably worked the area over pretty well making it overly elusive on this particular day. These prized mushrooms, if found, are quite the treasure and the ones mostly hunted for besides the highly prized Truffle specimen. But beware, you better have a permit too. Permits are available via the USDA Forest Service.

SO then, the next time someone says they're going mushroom hunting in the Pacific Northwest, hold your tongue, smile big and beg to be taken along. It's just something we do around these parts after all.

Please enjoy a medley of some of my favorites below found in:

Zigzag, Oregon as well as some in Forest Park.

Portland OR mushrooms

mushroom hunting portland

Oregon mushroom hunting

Cheers to mushrooms!!

Thank you for joining me on my maiden voyage article.

Happy hunting,

Rachel Carlson

....notes from a nomad



Featured Portland Events


9th Annual da Vinci Arts Fair

December 7, 2013 from 10am to 4pm – da Vinci Arts Middle SchoolIn an ongoing effort to "Keep da Vinci Weird," the 9th annual da Vinci Arts Fair returns December 7 & 8 to da Vinci Arts Middle School at 2508 NE Everett St. One of the more popular holiday fairsOrganized by da Vinci Arts Middle School | Type: arts,fairfundraiser

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The Portland Photo of the Week

The Portland Photo of the Week is by Michael Barton. Holy Giant Pacific Giant Salamander, Tryon Creek State Park!

Pacific Giant Salamander, Tryon Creek State Park

Our Portland Photo of the Week wins a $20 gift certificate to: POWELL'S CITY OF BOOKS

Enter your 100% original Portland photos and win a $20 treat to a local Portland business of our choice!

Past winners have been treated to: Powells, Coava Coffee, McMenamins, The Screen Door, New Seasons Market, Lompoc and dozens more!

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