Wild Mushroom Luck Strikes Again

oyster mushrooms magnolia

Ron spotted these oyster mushrooms for me when he was out walking Mikkey. They were a little past their prime, so I trimmed off everything that wasn’t fresh.

This was what I had left after trimming.

This was what I had left after trimming.

Since there wasn't enough to do much with, I added store bought criminis, onion and peppers, sautéed them together, and served them over a fajita bowl. YUMMM!

Since there wasn’t enough to do much with, I added store bought mushrooms, onion and peppers, sautéed them together, and served them over a fajita bowl.
YUMMM!

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Florida Again

A family feeding the peacocks at Magnolia Park. I had heard the peacock's caterwauling as they prepare to roost for the night. But I had never heard the sound like a Volkswagen's horn they make when the children got too close.

A family feeding the peacocks at Magnolia Park. I had heard the peacock’s caterwauling as they prepare to roost for the night. But I had never heard the sound like a Volkswagen’s horn they make when the children got too close.

Our first camping this trip was at Suwannee River State Park due to its close proximity to family.

Our first camping this trip was at Suwannee River State Park due to its close proximity to family.

Mikkey usually prefers to sleep with Mom, but Mom is constantly rolling over or getting up.....

Mikkey usually prefers to sleep with Mom, but Mom is constantly rolling over or getting up…..

I had not intended to blog about Florida again because we are, as usual, spending the winter here.  The biggest treat is having time with family.

Unfortunately, I had to do a factory reset on my phone and haven’t downloaded all the photos yet.  I’m waiting for our next data cycle.  So there will be no photos to share of the lovely 80 degree Christmas celebrated in shorts at Gail’s screened porch.

So when Mom wiggles around too much, Mikkey heads for Daddy's bed.

So when Mom wiggles around too much, Mikkey heads for Daddy’s bed.

So I’ll just share my available photos taken at random, and let the captions tell the story…. which is, it’s CHILLY down here now!

BTW, our water pump went out and our toilet needs replacing.  I have them ordered and Gail and I will do the mods when we get back to her house in a week or so.

Lake Apopka is a big lake bordered by vegetation that provides a perfect habitat for many aquatic and semi-aquatic critters.

Lake Apopka is a big lake bordered by vegetation that provides a perfect habitat for many aquatic and semi-aquatic critters.

Next was O'Leno Park--because it had available sites. Then Otter Springs. The spring is a black water hole in a cypress swamp. But it gave us a place to stay till our next reservations were available.

Next was O’Leno Park–because it had available sites. Then Otter Springs. The spring is a black water hole in a cypress swamp. But it gave us a place to stay till our next reservations were available.

Otter Spring did have one nice feature... an indoor heated swimming pool.

Otter Spring did have one nice feature… an indoor heated swimming pool.

While we were at Suwannee River State Park, I found my first ever Albatrellus mushrooms. I originally identified them as sheep polypores, but discovered they do not grow this far south.  All I know is that they are both Albatrellus polypores.

While we were at Suwannee River State Park, I found my first ever Albatrellus mushrooms. I originally identified them as sheep polypores, but discovered they do not grow this far south. All I know is that they are both Albatrellus polypores.

As much fun as an Easter egg hunt!

As much fun as an Easter egg hunt!

You never know if you will be sensitive or allergic to even good mushrooms. So this was my sample. After 24 hours I knew they were okay to eat. To be honest, they were slightly bitter and not very good. But I relished my discovery anyway!

You never know if you will be sensitive or allergic to even good mushrooms. So this was my sample. After 24 hours I knew they were okay to eat. To be honest, they were slightly bitter and not very good. But I relished my discovery anyway!

So now it's winter in Central Florida, but still heavenly compared to home!

So now it’s winter in Central Florida, but still heavenly compared to home!

This pond was covered with thick, scummy duckweed last year. This year we discovered they had found an elegant solution to the problem.

This pond was covered with thick, scummy duckweed last year. This year we discovered they had found an elegant solution to the problem.

But winter in Central Florida doesn't really mean winter. :)

But winter in Central Florida doesn’t really mean winter. 🙂

Ron trying to find a spot out of the wind. Note the wind blowing the Spanish moss around.

Ron trying to find a spot out of the wind. Note the wind blowing the Spanish moss around.

Adventure in the Woods

Pink Ladyslippers

Pink Ladyslippers

I was outside when the sun was too high, so I hope you enjoy the subjects of the photos. The pictures themselves aren’t great.

This was the first ladyslipper I found.

This was the first ladyslipper I found.

I suppose first I’ll tell you the adventure part, as the photos are pretty self-explanatory. I set out toward the back of our property, heading toward the area that is the best mushroom habitat around, by a little steep-banked creek. I never made it that far. There were many blowdowns, thick underbrush, hills and a steep ravine. I didn’t make it back that far, either!

Another double ladyslipper.  In this shot you can see a little of the flower's interior.

Another double ladyslipper. In this shot you can see a little of the flower’s interior.

I did make it a few hundred steeply sloped feet. I found several varieties of LBM’s (little brown mushrooms) that the experts have difficulty identifying. I also found a couple of medium tan-colored mushrooms that I intended to try to identify when I got back to the house. And several tiny orange mushrooms that looked a little chanterellish, but it’s way too early for them. They went in my bag to identify, too.

(But — pink ladyslippers are blooming! They were my consolation prize.)

Anyway, I got very tired and out of breath, so decided I’d better head (uphill) home. I climbed one little ridge, and that was it. I sat down on a thick cushion of forest duff and hyperventilated for a while.

Yu can see how soft and downy the young bull thistle flower stalks are at this stage.  (Pardon the dirty fingernails... it happens when I grub around outside!  :)

You can see how soft and downy the young bull thistle flower stalks are at this stage. (Pardon the dirty fingernails… it happens when I grub around outside! 🙂

I was going to stay there until I recuperated, but then I heard some of the dogs that run free around here sounding like they were fighting. That REALLY scared me, so I bushwacked over blowdowns, greenbrier, blackberry bushes, sapling trees… until I couldn’t go any farther.

This time I found a nice log to sit on. I beat on it with my hiking pole and prodded around to make sure there were no nasty critters under it, sat down, and the log cracked and sent me tumbling.

The bull thistle flower stalks after scraping.

The bull thistle flower stalks after scraping.

So I phoned Ron and told him where I was and asked him to bring me my inhaler. After using that, I felt better. And after resting a while, we made it home.

Exhausted, I threw the mushrooms I had planned to identify in the trash, too tired to mess with them, and crashed for a long nap.

So, apparently the COPD is getting worse… which means stick to easy trails and always carry my inhaler.

Before I headed into the woods I saw a couple of bull thistles with flower stalks and unopened flowers. At this stage the prickly flower stalks are downy and can be easily held with bare fingers.

Wild strawberries are blooming.

Wild strawberries are blooming.

I had them in my mushroom basket, so did put them into the refrigerator before I crashed.

When I got up, it was an easy job to scrape the down off the flower stalks and pop them in the pan with my chicken stew. At this young stage they have a very mild celery flavor, and they didn’t add anything to the dish I was cooking except fun.

When the stalks get older, they get prickly and hollow. I hold them with a pair of needle-nose pliers and peel off the prickles with a pocket knife. They have an intense celery flavor and are much better for cooking.  They get tough at that stage though, so need to be sliced thinly then.

So today was a good news-bad news day.

Tasteless, invasive Indian strawberries are crowding out the sweet wild strawberries.

Tasteless, invasive Indian strawberries are crowding out the sweet wild strawberries.

Oh, I almost forgot! I saw the plastic surgeon this morning who will be tightening up my droopy eyelids which is supposed to improve my vision significantly. I hope it does. But I’m secretly thrilled that my eyes will look better, too!

Little orange mushrooms

Little orange mushrooms

For Budding Mycophiles

Weather only a mushroom lover could love

Weather only a mushroom lover could love

(Click the photos to see a larger image of the Myco Pro app that you can read.)

The very best mushroom ID app

The very best mushroom ID app

The weather hasn’t permitted foraging in the woods, and our handyman hasn’t shown up yet. So I’ve been entertaining myself immersed in my favorite mushroom app. So far I’ve been able to get up to 256 points on the quiz before losing the 3 lives the app allows. It seems rather unfair because sometimes when you correctly identify a lethal mushroom, you get

From the Myco Pro library

From the Myco Pro library

a point for correct identification, but sometimes lose a life anyway! However, it is a reminder that if you aren’t very careful foraging mushrooms you could die — just like that! On the positive side, the quiz repeats mushrooms you have correctly identified as well as the ones you misidentified. The repetition really helps fix the mushroom in your mind.

You can also save photos and GPS locations where you’ve found mushrooms so you can find them again.

Each mushroom description has photos that you can click on to see beautiful, zoomable high resolution images.

Each mushroom description has photos that you can click on to see beautiful, zoomable high resolution images.

Can you tell I am crazy about the Myco Pro app? I have downloaded or bought every mushroom app available on Amazon and Google’s play store — and I have uninstalled all but 3. But Myco Pro is far and away the very best! If you want to use the app to full advantage, you really need to know the main characteristics of the most common genera. For that there is no better book to introduce beginners (and intermediates) to the

One of (usually 3) photos for each mushroom.

One of (usually 3) photos for each mushroom.

safest and tastiest mushrooms than David Fischer and Alan Bessette’s book, Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America. Get the book — not the e-book. The e-book is riddled with typos and has tiny, low resolution images. The hard copy is truly superb. It’s

Another view of the same mushroom

Another view of the same mushroom

impossible to poison yourself if you follow the excellent key points for identification that precedes each mushroom description.  Most importantly, it shows you how to take a spore print, which is a critical first step in identifying mushrooms.

A third photo of the same mushroom.

A third photo of the same mushroom.

Totally off-topic, I am doing this post on my phone because the touchpad on my new netbook died. 😦

Anyway, after all this rain, I’m heading to the woods hoping to find lots of mushrooms to photograph  — and hopefully some that are good to eat!

Obligatory disclaimer: I get no financial or any other kind of consideration for these endorsements, although, admittedly, I sound like a commercial!  😀

It even lets you know what taste and texture to expect when you cook the mushroom.

It even lets you know what taste and texture to expect when you cook the mushroom.

Spring!

Spring is following us north.

Spring is following us north.

I was seriously tempted to take some of the redbud flowers to make pancakes with, but decided I didn’t want to have to explain to a ranger why I was eating his trees!

Field garlic

Field garlic

So I settled for using a little field garlic in our dinner omelets this evening.

It’s fun watching spring start all over again after experiencing it in Florida.

Dandelions.  My favorite spring flowers.  Seriously!

Dandelions. My favorite spring flowers. Seriously!

We have had to take turns walking since Sunny can’t be left alone now. We went shopping in Valley yesterday, but had to take turns shopping, too. It was too hot to leave Sunny in the truck without air conditioning.

Lush clover.

Lush clover.

I thought I would always have a dog. But after being so constrained by Sunny and Sheba this trip, I think that when Sunny passes on, I may wait a while and see how I do without one.

Nature's lace.

Nature’s lace.

Another beauty.  Can anyone tell me what it is?

Another beauty.

Another cute COE safety sign.

Another cute COE safety sign.

Deja Vu (all over again) :D

Sheba telling me she wanted to play in the water.

Sheba telling me she wanted to play in the water.

My plan this afternoon was to take a 45 minute walk on the Florida Scenic Trail and then retrace my steps, which would have been a nice walk for both Sheba and me.

Mud puddles ahead

and the Mud puddles ahead

However, after I realized that it would involve stepping into ankle-deep mud puddles, I changed my mind.

What is so funny about these photos are they are almost identical to the ones I took when we were here in both the Casita and in the Aliner on previous visits.  The same post with its tiny garden growing in the top, the same trail sign, the same wooden walkway over the wettest places.

When I saw all the exposed palmetto roots, I remembered that Dad had always told me to stay away from them because rattlesnakes liked to hang around them.  I wasn’t sure if it was true or not until the mid 80’s when we were living in Altamonte Springs.

One of our neighbors and her husband had dug up a long palmetto root to dry, polyurethane, and mount over their bed as an intriguing sculpture.  They left the root on their screened in porch, and left the door between the screen room and their living room open overnight.

Rattlesnake haven?

Rattlesnake haven?

The next morning they discovered several baby rattlesnakes in their living room carpet!!  So I don’t go digging around palmetto roots much anymore, even if there is yummy palmetto cabbage under the new palmetto shoots.

We are looking forward to new scenery.  I’ve never camped at O’Leno, so next week I’ll have some new sights to share with you.

Florida Scenic Trail Sign

Florida Scenic Trail Sign

I promise!  🙂

Natural planter

Natural planter

 

 

A Few Mushrooms Today

Shaggy stalked bolete (Austroboletus betula).  Cap color can be yellow or orange.  This distinctive stalk makes it easy to identify.

Shaggy stalked bolete (Austroboletus betula). Cap color can be yellow or orange, sometimes bright, sometimes with brown tones. This distinctive stalk makes it easy to identify.

At last!  We found mushrooms today.  Unfortunately, all of them except the shaggy stalk bolete and the orange amanitas were in various stages of decomposition.

Much of the shaggy stalked bolete's long stalk was buried in leaf litter.

Much of the shaggy stalked bolete’s long stalk was buried in leaf litter.

The shaggy stalk bolete is edible, but not great.  We left it to spread its spores and hopefully produce more.

The smooth orange mushrooms (with the white sac-like volvas) MIGHT be American Caesar mushrooms (aka Amanita jacksonii) which are said to be edible and delicious.  However, I’m not willing to bet my life against a horribly painful, long drawn out death to risk eating anything in the amanita family, especially when I am not absolutely certain of my ID.  According to the literature, A jacksonii is supposed to have yellow gills.  These look too white to me.

Orange amanita.  I pulled the leaf litter away to expose the enlarged bulb (ova) at the base.

Orange amanita. I pulled the leaf litter away to expose the enlarged bulb (ova) at the base.

We also saw a group of 2 does and 4 twin fawns. And we found a wild persimmon tree whose unripe ruit has a long way to go before becoming sweet and delicious. The campground is rapidly filling up for the weekend.  But today was relaxed and pleasant.  We met some lovely people, and Sheba made friends young and old.  🙂

This is big brother to the small amanita pictured above. You can see where the partial veil is separating to form a ring around the stalk.

This is big brother to the small amanita pictured above. You can see where the partial veil is separating to form a ring around the stalk.

Here are 5 deer.  I couldn't get the 6th one in the photo.

Here are 5 deer. I couldn’t get the 6th one in the photo.

Wild persimmons

Wild persimmons

Pink, fuzzy baby leaves

Pink, fuzzy baby leaves

New Camera Learning Curve :-O

Colorful bug on a passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Colorful bug on a passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Wow!  Do I ever have a lot to learn!  But I adore macro photography and now I should be able to get some of the closeups I love.

Another passionflower with a bee

Another passionflower with a bee

I am not sure about the color capabilities of this camera.  They looked a little dull without the saturation boost, but I am not sure I like them with the saturation boost either.  And I want the subject sharp and the background blurred.  Maybe I need to do everything with manual focus and skip the automatic settings?  If anyone has any tips for a beginner, I’d love to hear them.   In the meantime, I’ll be doing a lot of reading on it.

A small (blurry) maypop, the fruit of the passionflower.  It will eventually get lime size.

A small (blurry) maypop, the fruit of the passionflower. It will eventually get lime size.

Maybe I should have bought a more expensive camera?  Or maybe I just need to learn this one.  One thing is for sure, it will take a while!  🙂

Today was hot and muggy.  So humid that the air felt heavy and hard to breathe.  So walking wasn’t a lot of fun.  But this evening a cool, brisk breeze is blowing and thunderstorms will be moving in shortly.

I don't know what these are.  The leaves are powdery white, and they have a non-descript white flower -- until you see them up close!

Mountain mint. The leaves are powdery white, and they have a non-descript white flower — until you see them up close! (Thanks for the ID, Lynne.)

I haven’t found a single decent mushroom yet.  They will probably all fruit a couple of days after we leave since more rain is predicted!

Closeup of the powdery leaved plant's flowers.

Closeup of the mountain mint flowers.

The Heart of Summertime

Tenters on the far bank

Tenters on the other bank

Cloud cover and a steady breeze made exploring the woods a pleasure today.  Amazingly, we have not picked up a single tick! Yet, anyway!

A variety of blueberries or huckleberries.

A variety of blueberries or huckleberries.

I took Sunny for a short, slow, old-doggie-paced walk this morning.  He soon tired, so we headed back.  Then I took Sheba for a longer, brisker, more interesting walk.

I found all kinds of little wonders to photograph.  However, in transferring them to my computer, I lost over 30 of them.  My favorites, of course!

I think it might be time to start thinking about getting a new camera.  I promised myself one for Christmas, but I might not make it  that long.

Darn!  😀

Wild muscadine grape buds

Wild muscadine grape buds

Greenbrier berries

Greenbrier berries

Smilax flower buds

Smilax flower buds

Sunny after his walk

Sunny after his walk

Sheba exploring

Sheba exploring

Last night's thunderstorm blew all of the trumpet flowers off their vines.  None are left in the trees.

Last night’s thunderstorm blew all of the trumpet flowers off their vines.

Greenbrier thorns and tendrils

Greenbrier thorns and tendrils

 

 

Earth Boxes, Wild Strawberries & Baby Fig Trees

Wild strawberries are just about through fruiting for the year.

Wild strawberries are just about through fruiting for the year.

The invasive, tasteless Indian strawberries seem to fruit all season.  Their job seems to be to take over the wild strawberries' habitat, and they are doing a good job of it, unfortunately.

The invasive, tasteless Indian strawberries seem to fruit all season. Their job seems to be to take over the wild strawberries’ habitat, and they are doing a good job of it, unfortunately.

The rain has been so dependable that I haven’t had to water anything yet this year.  Both the things I planted and the wild things I didn’t are thriving.

We have been eating salad from our Earth Boxes for several days.  All of the lettuces are going strong.  I did have to pull up the radicchio because it bolted and turned too bitter.  It certainly was beautiful, though.

The patio tomatoes are fruiting, and the bell peppers have little peppers on them.

I planted cilantro and marigolds in two empty Earth Boxes.  I also have green clumping onions planted in one.

I have put off doing anything with the square foot gardens because my heart is just not into it.

Lettuce

Lettuce

Life is in a holding pattern until our next trip, it seems.  🙂

Little Gem lettuce starting to head.

Little Gem lettuce starting to head.

Baby romaine

Baby romaine

Patio tomatoes in Earth Box

Patio tomatoes in Earth Box

Baby  bell peppers

Baby bell peppers

 

The cold spring killed the fig trees, but new shoots are coming up from the base of the trees.

The cold spring killed the fig trees, but new shoots are coming up.