One of the best things about our job is the amount of time we get to spend out in the woods. We run across a great many interesting mushrooms out there and are happy to share with you some photos of our finds.
One of the surest signs of spring in Northern Michigan is the arrival of morel mushrooms. This most commonly picked wild mushroom is sought after by young and old. You can often find good picking spots just by driving down country roads and looking for the parked cars of other morel lovers.
Just as the morels signal the coming of spring, the oyster mushrooms let us know when spring gives way to summer. My favorite type: The Aspen Oyster(Pleurotus populinus) grows exclusively on dead Poplar trees and can often be found in great numbers, depending on the weather. The only trick is to get the young; before the bugs do!
Of course the main mushroom we are usually after when we are exploring the wilderness is the elusive chaga. We have seen some 'conks' as big as a medicine ball and in all sorts of different odd formations. Here are just a few examples of our finds.
Wild Mushrooms of Northern Michigan
Reishi (Ganoderma tsugae)
Usually appearing around the summer solstice and maturing in late July or early August, these Hemlock Reishis seem to be more common in the Upper Peninsula than in Northern Lower Michigan. Sometimes found in profusion, and sometimes just a solitary conk, usually they will pop up on the same dead trees year after year.
Found in hardwood forests, growing in symbiosis with Oak trees, fruitings of these mushrooms seem to be entirely dependent on mid summer rains. When the conditions are right you can start finding these in early July, and the season may extend into the middle of August. However on some dry years you would be hard pressed to find a single fruit in the same stand of trees where you find dozens in other years.
A truely remarkable mushroom which is actually a combination of two different fungi. Their striking orange appearance is the result of 'infection' from a Hypomyces mold, which not only improves the flavor and texture, but the shelf life as well. It is the only food I can think of that gets better with mold!
These can be found from midsummer all the way into fall in all different types of forest. They are particularly common on foot trails.