By Mike Benbow Special to The Herald
The rain came just at the right time this fall for wild mushroom hunters.
Mushrooms have been popping up all over throughout forests, fields and in a lot of back yards.
“The rain has brought the mushrooms out this year,” said Igor Malcevski. “It’s been one of the best years in a long time.”
Malcevski, a longtime member of the Everett-based Snohomish County Mycological Society, noted that the abundance of mushrooms has brought out a lot of pickers, but he doesn’t encourage people to head out without a knowledgeable companion.
“You want to go with someone who is experienced (in mushroom identification),” he said. “You can make a mistake out there in the woods and you don’t want to make an eating mistake.”
Walt Ketola, also a member of the Everett mushroom society, said there are easily some 5,000 mushroom species in Washington. He recommends that people learn a few of the popular edible mushrooms to begin with and go from there.
Both Malcevski and Ketola said looking at a guidebook isn’t enough. “You can read all the books you want to, but you can’t learn without the fieldwork,” Ketola said.
“Find someone who knows what they’re doing and follow them around and ask questions.”
If you don’t have an experienced friend to accompany you, you can join a club.
“They can teach you four mushrooms in the first year that you can’t make any mistakes with,” he said.
While pickers don’t like to give away their favorite spots, clubs are also good to learn about general locations for popular mushrooms.
Malcevski said public parks can often be very good because they often use a lot of compost that encourages mushrooms.
Muschroom hunters also look around ski areas like those at Snoqualmie and Stevens passes.
Some mushrooms are found in clearings and along the edges of forests. Others, like the popular chantrelles, are typically found in conifer forests.
Other tips from Ketola:
- To identify mushrooms, learn the features of the cap, gill, stem, ring, cup and roots.
- Cook mushrooms before eating them to release the nutrients.
- When hunting, carry your finds in a woven basket or mesh bag, not a plastic bag that has no ventilation.
- When eating a mushroom species for the first time, try just a tablespoon or two to see if you have an allergy or bad reaction.
- On foraging trips, dress appropriately and take water, snacks, bug spray, a whistle, a lighter, a compass and a two-way radio to stay in touch with your partners.
- Mushroom picking should be good through November unless there’s a hard frost beforehand.
- The Snohomish County Mycological Society meets at 7:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the Baker Community Center, 1401 Poplar St., Everett. It hosts mushroom collecting field trips, conducts classes and holds potluck meals. Membership is $12 for families, $10 for individuals and $7 for seniors. Information: www.scmsfungi.org/.
- The Puget Sound Mycological Society has about 1,200 members and offers field trips and classes. Individual or family memberships are $30 annually, or $20 for full-time students. For more information, including harvesting rules, visit
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