WEEKEND: Mushroom show will teach you what’s edible — and what’s toxic

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — Is that mushroom tasty or toxic?

Ask experts at the Olympic Peninsula Mycological Society’s annual fall Wild Mushroom Show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

The free show will be at the Sequim Elks Lodge, 143 Port Williams Road.

Displays of more than 100 wild mushrooms, including some that grow on the North Olympic Peninsula, and examples of edible and poisonous mushrooms are planned at the show, which will have mushroom experts available to answer questions.

Tempting trouble

“There is lots of opportunity for people to get in trouble with mushrooms if they don’t know what they’ve got,” said Jim Deckman, president of the society.

Many people have mushrooms growing in their yards, which dogs or small children might be tempted to eat, and immigrants from other areas may see a familiar-looking mushroom only to discover a look-alike that is toxic or otherwise inedible, Deckman said.

Similarly, young people may challenge or dare each other to eat various mushrooms they may find growing, he said.

“If I had kids I’d sure want to know,” he said.

Guests can bring their mushroom samples for identification, Deckman said.

Mushroom samples should include the entire growth, including any underground stem with some dirt attached, and should be placed in wax paper inside a paper or canvas bag.

“We use wicker baskets to collect them,” Deckman said.

No plastic baggies

Mushrooms should not be put in plastic baggies, he added; the plastic holds moisture and causes the mushroom to deteriorate quickly.

Mushroom growing kits — bags of straw with oyster mushroom spores ready to grow — will be offered for sale, with proceeds benefiting the Olympic Peninsula Mycological Society.

On display will be several popular edible mushrooms and their poisonous look-alikes.

Chantrelles, a graceful, yellowish mushroom shaped like an umbrella that has been turned inside-out by the wind, is a tasty, desirous mushroom much sought after by mushroom hunters.

Two near-twins grow in the area: the false chantrelle and the fuzzy, or wooly, chantrelle, which can cause gastrointestinal distress.

Deckman encouraged caution about picking mushrooms without serious research and knowledge.

Many of those seeking mushroom identification are not looking for edible mushrooms, he said, but are often photographers or simply interested in biology.

Other uses

Others use mushrooms to create natural dyes for cotton, wool, silk and other natural fibers, or for other forms of art, Deckman said.

“There are some mushrooms hard enough that you can draw a picture on them,” he said.

National parks do not allow mushroom gathering, while state and national forests and state parks allow limited gathering, he said.

Those who want to gather mushrooms should check with the appropriate ranger station to get a copy of the current written regulations.

Before gathering on private land, check with the property owner.

For more information, visit the Olympic Peninsula Mycological Society website at www.olymushrooms.org.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 17. 2013 5:12PM
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