Even more December oysters, plus honeys, puffballs, and more

AMF reader Horace Sheffield sent in some pictures today from south of the Page Springs area in the Verde Valley, showing another big fruiting of oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus or P. pulmonarius) on cottonwoods (Populus fremontii). The heavy rains in early December, and subsequent moderate temperatures, have really given off-season foragers in Arizona something to celebrate. These were big, fat, brown winter oysters, and look to be in great shape. Horace was eating some as I wrote this tonight, and reports their taste is exquisite.

But that’s not all! He also found a massive fruiting of honey mushrooms, Armillaria mellea, or a close relative. These are an intermediate-level mushroom that you need some experience to be sure of, but Horace has seen enough to know, and found them growing at a wide enough variety of ages to make a confident identification.

There were other a few other noteworthy finds since our last report–

  • More Verde Valley oyster mushrooms from Terri Clements:
(Terri Clements)

(Terri Clements)

  • A solitary shaggy mane (Coprinus comatus) from David Jacobs, found at 8200 feet in the White Mountains.
(David Jacobs)

(David Jacobs)

  • Eddie Bolero went a bit kooky for some more oysters he found up a tree in Sierra Vista. Here you can see him risking his neck for a mushroom dinner. Also note the Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) he found on the same trip.
  • Sarah Fish found an interesting puffball studded with pyramidal excrescences near her home in the White Mountains, possibly Calbovista subsculpta.  I suggested she examine it carefully and slice it longitudinally to ensure it was really a puffball, and not something like a young Amanita magniverrucata or A. cokeri.
(Sarah Fish)

(Sarah Fish)

  • Mike Dechter got a pretty decent looking lobster mushroom, Hypomyces lactifluorum, growing almost entirely underground outside Flagstaff. Never heard of one so late.
(Mike Dechter)

(Mike Dechter)

  • But poor Mike also got the booby prize, finding only the stumps of some fresh oysters along Oak Creek that someone else had beaten him to.  Maybe it was Horace?
(Mike Dechter)

(Mike Dechter)

All in all, a fitting end to a spectacular year. Now for some heavy rain and snow to kick off morel season, which can begin as early as February in the medium elevation riparian zones under cottonwoods. Higher up, it will begin in April or May, especially on the San Juan Fire, Slide Fire, and other natural and controlled burns. See you in the field!

About Christopher May

Chris is a radiologist in private practice in Scottsdale. He is married to Barbara May, with two grown children, Megan and Nick.
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