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I sense you’re here

5 Sep

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A squirrel was working up a storm, it seemed it was raining invisible conifer cones, I was stumped under this tree tonight as I could hear and vaguely see a large number of items being dropped from above but couldn’t for awhile spot the conifer cones on the ground once they landed as they seemed to disappear amongst the bunchberries. A squirrel is on my family coat of arms so I suspected the was some kind of ancestral shenanigans perhaps?

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Ah, these green cones travel quick and blend in well, I never knew they harvest the resiny green ones. Click on to checkout the bed of bunchberries on the ground.

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Mystery solved, now a few mushrooms, the attractive but (not recommended as edible) Scaly Vase Chanterelle (Gomphus floccosus).

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A photo from a few years ago of a Scaly Vase Chanterelle

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The Amethyst deceiver (Laccaria amethystina)

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and a mature Hydnellum peckii.

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Here is an older photo of a young Hydnellum peckii, funny how things change, ciao

Back to school Blues, reds and yellows

2 Sep

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School starts for the children this week and it’s also an educational time to be a wild mushroom gatherer in eastern Canada with the cooler nights come a whole new group of wild mushrooms to join up with the summer mushrooms which will also remain for a while longer. The new families to appear have a great number of members and these families include the Cortinarius which has a representative shown above, the Tricholoma and the Hygrophoros along with a few others will make it hard to choose which mushrooms to focus on. Many of the mushrooms in these families are inedible or poisonous and I haven’t spent much time over the years getting to know them as edibles were my main concern though they are very beautiful to see out in the woods and some like the Cortinarius shown above also have interesting aromas with this purple colored mushroom smelling like freshly boiled potatoes. So today I will show some mushrooms I commonly see and will need to send away to finally be able to identify with certainty. Guessing the above mushroom is Cortinarius traganus?

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Now this mushroom looks like what is considered by many to be one of the world’s most common mushrooms Laccaria laccata though these ones in the photo have larger caps and longer stems and I will send these away asking if they are actually Laccaria nobilis?

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Tricholoma are tricky to ID with the many shades of cap color within some species. I’m guessing the yellow mushrooms on the left are Tricholoma subluteum? On the right we have a real common mushroom under mixed forest and conifers which I have never took the time to verify its identity and was surprised it wasn’t easy to find on the net. There are a few possibilities though my guess is Russula sanguinaria?

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I’m a little embarrassed to show this super common mushroom which everybody in the maritime provinces has walked past numerous times. I can’t with certainty tell you the identity of these beautiful little mushrooms though my guess is Hygrocybe miniata?

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Last one, another purple Cort and this one doesn’t have as much brown tones or any potato scent, if its cap wasn’t so smooth I would guess it was the rare Cortinarius violaceus?

I’ll mail these in dried form to my teacher, wish me luck in getting a passing grade on this little test I created for myself. ciao

Craterellus ignicolor

10 Aug

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This little mushroom is just starting to make an appearance around here and I am quite thankful as last year these mushrooms were very rare and my supply of dried Craterellus ignicolor mushrooms ran out about 6 months ago, so I went without one of my favorites for quite sometime.

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You may notice a resemblance to the golden Chanterelle with forked gills though it is smaller and  lighter weighing due to it being hollow which makes it ideal for cleaning and drying. First time I tried this mushroom fresh in a soup I found it acted as a mild laxative in my body so I dried the rest of the mushrooms I collected and in the dried form they do not have that laxative effect on me, plus their flavour comes to the forefront in dried form being especially good crushed and sprinkled on omelets and chicken. They will remind you of dried Chanterelle only with a little more fresh fruity flavour, some say it is similar to plums in some ways.

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Here is a tray of Craterellus ignicolor ready for drying.

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Now I do see these mushrooms and a few similar species are actually commercially gathered from some regions and marketed as Yellow Foot Chanterelle and yes they can be plentiful though you need to pick a hundred or so to weigh in with a single pound, so this mushroom I suspect is back-breaking work for the folks trying to make a few dollars picking these guys, hopefully they will find a large string of big 1 lb Lobster mushrooms to balance things out at the weigh in station.

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In my case fortunate thoughts are arising as these gatherings appear joyful, a labour of love as it seems these little mushrooms are a beautiful sight on the forest floor along with them being much tastier than gold. ciao

Milkweed

1 Jul

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I’ve only become familiar with Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) in the last 10 years as it didn’t grow in my home area and seems to only grow along railway tracks in the area I live now which is Moncton N.B.  With its large thick leaves and attractive flowers this plant you will take notice of right away once you see it.

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I’ve been rather slow in sampling Milkweed as a wild edible due to the location where it grows as I’m quite concerned with the potential toxins in the plants related to the sprays railways periodically receive which has been going on in these areas for over 100 years. This one is just 2 feet from the railway track.

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Today I’ve found a patch which has spread a few hundred feet into an open field which I suspect is a safe enough distance to try a few young flower buds which even in the most pristine environment would need to be boiled to be a safe edible, some even recommend changing the boiling water 3 times while cooking. Since I’m new to this plant this is the cooking process I followed.

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Here are the unopened flower buds. Milkweed comes by its name honestly as the amount of white latex the runs forth when a leaf breaks away from the stem is impressive to see and this latex has been used to make rubber, also some folks of long ago used the dried latex as a chewing gum.

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This is my collection of the uncooked buds which turn out to be very good vegetable when cooked in the 3 boiling water change process for total cooking time of 15 minutes. The flower buds turn a dark green once the are boiled. I’m also interested in trying the young seedpods as a wild edible when the time is right, the white seeds inside the young pods look to be an interesting food.

Trailing Arbutus Jam

30 Apr

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Epigaea repens (Trailing Arbutus) is usually a common plant I find in  sandy forest which are quite acidity. I stumbled upon these ones in an old pasture while checking out some young bedstraw plants I have an interest in.

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Since some of the flowers were in good condition I decided to gather a few flower tubes to try as a simple jam.

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This small bowl of flowers took awhile to gather, though if you are in a patch of Trailing Arbutus you will probably not be in any rush to leave the pleasant scent this plant adds to its surroundings anyway.

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I made 3 small patches, (1) flower tubes and sugar, (2) flower tubes and honey and (3) flower tubes and maple syrup. The flower tubes in all 3 recipes were pressed into a paste with the other ingredient and the results were extremely good with the honey and flower tubes my personal favorite.

DSC05407I will probably try a few wild rose petal recipes and use Trailing Arbutus to replace the rose petals. This is not the type of product anyone could mass produce, but a couple small bottles of these flower tubes preserved each spring is going to be a new tradition at our house.

Everywhere I’m shovelling

30 Dec

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I did a quick check on cities around the world with population similar to my home city of Moncton NB which is a bit over 100,000 and it turns out we may receive  more snowfall for cities this size and larger than any other in North America at 137 inches/ 349 cm per year. Now there are ski resort areas in the mountains of the N.A with surrounding small towns which get triple our amount, also Sapporo, Japan receives twice the amount of snow our low altitude (71 m) city receives, nevertheless we are very grateful to receive our usually ample supply which once layed down lingers and becomes a nice accumulation by mid to late February.

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As these homeboys show, we are already off to a pretty good start, this is the second good snow storm we received with this one assumed to measure in between 15 to 30 cm during a 18 hr period. We are not going to venture to far from home as the streets were plowed around 4 hours ago but are again snow covered, so here are a few photos from our yard. The modern day record for a one day snow in this city was 78 cm back in 1992.

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As I shovel a bit I notice a few sheperds purse stems under the snow still with green unripe seed purses, since these plant produces around 40,000 seeds per plant and the seeds are known to stay viable for 20 years I suspect they will do very well under the snow blanket.

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Here is a rosette of young shepherd’s purse leaves which will actually over winter and if not under frozen snow or ice can be easily eaten, I nibbled a few of these leaves and left the rest which will grow seed producing stems as things thaw out in the spring.

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Well the driveway is now shovelled out in case, oh

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Well that is the way it goes around here, actually he when easy on me as he seen I was taking his picture. Believe me he could have loaded the snow 4 feet high in the first 4 to 5 feet of the driveway as he already did for my neighours across the street. Well the snow I didn’t get this time will surely wait patiently and enter the driveway on the snowplow’s next pass down the road in a few hours.  ciao for now

Cool to be green

9 Dec

DSC05299Shepherd’s Purse seems to produce the year’s best tasting and largest leaves in December in our yard. The life cycle from germination to producing mature seeds ready to start it all over again can be within a 3 week span. It would be hard to find a place on earth where Sheperd’s purse couldn’t grow as it can even stand up to the intense heat of the tropics as well.

DSC05301Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata) is a European plant I noticed growing quite wild here in Canada as it has spread its way around our yard. The folks who lived in our home in the 1960s planted some rather hardy edible, medicinal plants which were usually planted as ornamentals during those years though these plants are re-emerging as plants of interests due to their useful and self-sufficient nature, which makes them idle northern permaculture plants.

DSC05306Here are a couple sweet cicely roots ready to be eaten raw, the roots at this time of the year have a hardy anise flavour which I find make a tasty nibble and breath freshener. The leaves are less intensely flavoured and can be used in teas or as a sweetening agent.

DSC05303Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) is a very common native wild plant, here we see the first year basal rosette leaves.

DSC05304Another first year evening primrose with  the pink root several inches out of the soil which is a common sight in the Maritime provinces of Canada. Evening Primrose is a rather interesting edible and medicinal plant which is found in most disturbed soils and at the edges of salt marshes as well, the leaves are very peppery and I have used them medicinally in teas, the flowers are good in salads and roots have a taste I’m fond of though the slimy texture prevents them from becoming a popular vegetable. Evening Primrose seeds are a well known source of GLA.

DSC05310Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) seems to be as green as ever during these days when temperatures are dipping below the freezing mark much off the time. Still exploring new ways to enjoy this very aggressive lawn plant other than the usual medicinal tea mixes.

DSC05309Another chilly night  approaches with Jerusalem Artichokes  in the slow cooker with some onion and dried King Bolete (boletus edulis), this recipe will continue to be a favorite on our supper table, as long as you can dig where I’m coming from. ciao

Wild oyster mushroom fishing

4 Nov

Here’s a new activity for you,The oyster mushrooms above were a little to easy and some folks may say, like fishing in a barrel, I could drive my car a bit closer to the tree and reach out the window and grab a cluster, which means on a frequently travelled road they would have taken up to much pollution to use for food, especially since a very active gravel pit is located across the road, so these mushrooms are best left here to participate in some mycoremediation to help out the environment.

This is more like it, now I am in an old hardwood forest a few miles away, here we see a newly fruiting mushroom cluster with some older but possibly good clusters further up. This tree almost looks like it is laying down on a bed of snow, but the white background is an overcast sky and a light mist is in the air, perfect fishing weather here in Atlantic Canada.

I got a bite, this will actually be my second cluster I attempt to catch from this sugar maple tree. This group of mushrooms is around 14 feet off the ground and my 8 foot fishing rod (tent pole {click on this photo  for better view}) is getting close to the limit of my casting range. I could have brought a fishing net, but trying to catch the falling oysters makes the sport even more fun.  Wild oyster mushrooms grow in most temperate and tropical climates throughout the world and make for easy dry land fishing providing you have a fishing pole (no strings attached) and can wait for the right time when they surface from their tree trunks. ciao

Gypsy mushrooms

6 Oct

I collected a lot of choice edible mushrooms today and here is the last one I found on the way back home. Most years Gypsy mushrooms are around in August and early September, but this year is different as they are fruiting heavily right now under eastern white pine trees, as long as poplar, birch or beech trees are also close by.

Tom Volk of I believe the state of Oregon in the USA made the Gypsy mushroom his fungus of the month on his website back in Nov 1999 with interesting info on possible antiviral properties in this mushroom. It is a well liked edible in europe and though I personally find the stem hard to digest and only use the caps as food which I find are very good eating.  I do use all parts of the mushroom in teas, especially during flu season.

Which photo has the most number of Gypsy mushrooms in it. Photo 4 will need to be clicked on or you will definitely miss a few. ciao

Spruce bolete amongst the white matsutake woods

6 Oct

Here are a few photos of Spruce boletes (Leccinum piceinum). I usually can not ID orange/red cap scaber-caps with many different staining colors and cap and stem scabers, but these were in a strictly conifer only woods where I was gathering white matsutake, these boletes are considered to be a good edible that is especially flavorful in dried form.

Click on photo to notice the spruce bolete on the rolling mossy terrain.

Off in the back section of this photo are 5  or so white mutsutake mushrooms in dark conifer forest these mushroom can be noticed hundreds of feet away. Actually any mushroom can be seen well in the moss or needle duff with the absence of fallen hardwood leaves.

The 2 orange colored mushrooms picked  up in mixed woods of birch, poplar and conifers are quite noticeable at the back of this tray of mushrooms and are a different variety of Leccinum then the spruce bolete (Leccinum piceinum) and the stem texture, cap cuticle and mushroom flesh staining was very different then the other mushrooms when preparing them for the drier, but if I had 4 or 5 different varieties on this tray these differences would not have been noticed.  Orange/red capped Leccinum are a very common Northern Hemisphere & Atlantic Canadian  mushroom with some very good edibles in the group though IDing them is difficult with 6 to 10 varieties with a couple of possible rogues in the group, there have been some GI illnesses reported in the mid and western USA. Conifer forest narrows down your possible Leccinum species considerably and is a good place to start exploring orange/red cap Leccinums as a possible forageable food source. ciao