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!

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

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

The Trouble with Names & Colors & Descriptions

At home in the woods

At home in the woods

One of the challenges of trying to learn mushrooms’ names is that they keep changing.  By the time a book is published, the mushroom’s name may have been popped from one genus into another — and sometimes back again.  And sometimes they just change the name altogether based on new studies.

So species’ names can be a nightmare to get right!

Remember the purple mushroom I posted a photo of a few days ago?  I thought I had the name aced.  Then Dave, the mushroom expert on my board wrote this:

Small orange mushroom--whose name I don't know yet.  :)

Small orange mushroom–whose name I don’t know yet. 🙂

There is a southern NA species that looks just like Cortinarius iodes, except it isn’t. The name is Cortinarius iodiodes (not kidding), which means “looks like Cortinarius iodes.” The difference between the two species is strictly academic.

We’ve been going back and forth trying to identify this yellow suillus.  The concensus is that it’s probably a Chicken Fat Suillus (Suillus americanus), even though it is supposed to be very slimy.  And the ones

Suillus americanus (Chicken Fat Suillus)

Suillus americanus (Chicken Fat Suillus)

I’ve found are not at all slimy.  Also, going by the color descriptions in the books doesn’t help a lot.

The following is from Michael Kuo’s Mushroom Expert site:

… depending on the amount of sunlight and the precipitation the color of individual fruiting bodies varied from one weather period to the next (even in a single day).

Or as Dave Fischer, the author of Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America, once emailed me in response to my question about why one of my mushroom photos didn’t look like the same mushroom in his book: “They don’t know that they are supposed to look exactly like the ones in the book.”  😀

Woodsy Treasures & Another Bearded Tooth

Young hericium erinaceus (lions mane, bearded tooth)

Young hericium erinaceus (lions mane, bearded tooth). This photo makes it look larger than the fist size it actually is. Eventually it will be much larger.

Ron was trimming brush at the edge of our yard today when I noticed something white in a tree out back.  On closer inspection, it proved to be a young bearded tooth mushroom. It was WAY up in the tree.  There’s no way I could get it to turn it into tonight’s cuisine.  🙂

The mushroom tree

The mushroom tree. The white spot is not the mushroom in the header photo. It’s much higher up–way out of reach!

The funny thing is, the tree looked healthy from the yard and I was curious why a mushroom was growing on it.  But when I got out there, I found that it has a huge hollow inside.  So that explains how the tree was weakened.

And just so the non-mushroom lovers aren’t too grossed out, I’ll include a photo of cute little wildflowers that were growing beneath the mushroom tree.  🙂

The others are photos of some of the mushrooms I’ve found over the past week.  I haven’t had time to do any serious study, but I have them all identified as to genus but two.  I’ll worry about narrowing their IDs down when I have the time.

A photo for non-mushroom lovers!  :)

A photo for non-mushroom lovers! 🙂

This is one I can't get narrowed down to genus.  It has a beige spore print that doesn't fit anything in my books.

This is one I can’t get narrowed down to genus. It has a beige spore print that doesn’t fit anything in my books.

View from the bottom.  All I'm sure of it that it's a bolete.

View from the bottom. All I’m sure of it that it’s a bolete.

This is a suillus.

This is a suillus.

An amanita

An amanita

Amanita - view from bottom

Amanita – view from bottom

This is another one I'm unsure of.

This is another one I’m unsure of. (A guy on my mushroom board identified it as Chalciporus piperatus the Peppery Bolete.)

The pinkish pore surface stumps me

The pinkish pore surface stumps me

Hummers, Hosta Flower & No Curtain Yet!

A rare, split second two hummingbirds share the same feeder

A rare, split second two hummingbirds share the same feeder

I am still dragging my feet on making the curtains for the Casita’s new door window.  It’s because I don’t have enough fabric to do what I want to do, and I know I will not be happy with the result.

Spotting the enemy

Spotting the enemy

What I want to do with my brown and white striped fabric is make deep pleats so that the pleats will be solid brown, with the stripes visible on the rest of the panel.  However, I am going to have to make shallow pleats that will show a white stripe in the top border.  It really shouldn’t matter since they will only be up at night for privacy.

Anyway, I will have to get them done this coming week because we are planning to go camping July 22.

I had not planned to put up my hummingbird feeder this year since we hope to be gone so often.  But the other day I was sitting out on the back deck when a hummingbird flew right up to me and hovered in my face.  I thought he may have remembered that there was a feeder there last year.

Another brief moment of two hummingbirds at the feeder before the battle ensued.  :)

Another brief moment of two hummingbirds at the feeder before the battle ensued. 🙂

The hosta is finally blooming again!

The hosta is finally blooming again!

So I went inside, boiled sugar water, let it cool, and rehung the feeder.  The next morning two of the little birds were back performing their aerial dogfights, running into each other, chest bumping, and all the other hilarious, mean things they do to keep the others away from THEIR feeder.

I might have considered the hummingbird “telling” me to fill the feeder a fluke if it weren’t for another episode a few years ago.  At that time, we kept the feeder out front where we sat in the shade in late afternoons.  One day I heard the most insistent chattering.  I looked up, and a little hummingbird was looking right at me, jumping up and down on the branch, chattering angrily and loudly — pitching a temper tantrum, it appeared.

So I went inside, filled the feeder, and as soon as I rehung it, the little hummer made a beeline for it.

spiny puffball-sm

Lycoperdon americanum. One of my finds last week. It would have been edible if I had found it sooner.

It’s so funny to realize that such a tiny bird can communicate and tell me what to do!

My hosta has not bloomed in several years, probably due to the drought.  But this year, to my surprise, it’s blooming again!

The main reason I haven’t posted in the past week is that, since our drought is in the past, mushrooms are popping up everywhere!  I spend hours photographing them, taking spore prints, processing the photos, poring through my books and the net trying to identify them, then posting them on my mushroom board for ID confirmation.

So far I am thrilled with how well I am doing at IDing them.  I almost always get them in the right genus, and often get them down to specific species.  It’s like solving puzzles to me, and I really love learning those little guys’ names!