SCIOTO— The “Fantastic Fungi Hunt” at Shawnee State Park on July 31 proved to be quite a popular event with over 30 people of all ages from neighboring counties and members of the Adams County Wild Mushroom Club attending.
The event started at the Nature Center with Park Naturalist Jenny Richards sharing information about the relationship between the mycorrhizal fungi under the ground and how to find different mushrooms in different forest habitats. Guest speak Evan Adkins, from Portsmouth, supplied hikers with several handouts that included illustrations of common edible fungi found in the park and common mushroom types and how to identify them. Several mushroom reference books were also on display.
During the event, hikers split into two groups to find as many mushrooms as they could in one hour, led by Richards and Adkins. Due to heavy rains a few days before the hike, both groups came back with quite a haul. Two top edibles were found including Chanterelles (Cantharellus spp) and Hedgehop (Hydnum spp).
The Chanterelles were the easiest to spot due to their yellowish-orange color and funnel shaped caps. They appear to have gills under their cap that run down the stem but they are actually folds or ribs that should peel away easily when torn. This characteristic is key when identifying this type of fungi.
The Hedgehogs were a little harder to spot because they were smaller and white to tan colored and are usually found under leaf litter near living trees. One group found them near a stand of conifers. They are another mushroom that doesn’t have true gills or pores but has spines or teeth under the cap; hence, the name Hedgehog.
On the other end of the spectrum, several toxic Amanitas (Amanita spp) were found. Fortunately, these are usually easily identified. Growing from the ground near living trees, they are often found singularly and can be quite large. They have a cap with gills, the stem has a skirt-like veil under the cap and when pulled from the ground the bottom of the stem (the volva) is bulbous.
The largest fungi found by Adkins was a Berkeley’s Polypore (Bondarzewia berkeleyi) approximately 12 inches across. Three of these tan, fan-like fungi were found at the base of a deciduous tree. Another large specimen, a Bolete (Boletus spp), measured at least four inches across.
Other mushrooms found on the hunt were Crown-tipped coral (Artomyces pyxidatus), Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor), Green-capped and Peck’s Russulas (Russula spp), Brick-Cap Bolete (B. sensibilis) and numerous others that were not positively identified at the time.
Other interesting finds were the Cranefly orchid and the Rattlesnake Plantain orchid along with a Ghost Pipe, which is a long thin white plant that curves at the top to resemble a pipe when held horizontally and has a symbiotic relationship with fungi.
After the hunt, hikers got to enjoy some saffron rice with Chanterelles that Richards had prepared and planned to repeat the event, possibly in the fall.