It's mushroom-picking time on the North Olympic Peninsula

By Peninsula Daily News staff

GATHERING MUSHROOMS FOR food and fabric dyes is a Pacific Northwest tradition going back thousands of years, but it's also a risky venture if gatherers aren't educated in mushroom identification.


A good way to learn about mushrooms is to attend the 2013 Olympic Peninsula Mycological Society Wild Mushroom Show from noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Sequim Elks Lodge, 143 Port Williams Road, in Sequim.

The show provides an opportunity for mushroom lovers to learn about their flavorful options, and they'll also get a lesson on the dangers.

Hundreds of guests showed up at last year's show in the Sequim Elks Lodge, and many walked away with mushroom-growing kits and a new appreciation for the variety of mushrooms.

The show featured three main table displays of mushrooms found in the Pacific Northwest — a table for edible, highly desired mushrooms, one for those that may be good for dyes or are not harmful but aren't good eating, and a table of poisonous mushrooms.

Not all poisonous mushrooms will put you in the hospital, Larry Bauer, an OPMS member and mushroom guide, told the Peninsula Daily News during 2011's show.

Some can cause stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and other symptoms, which can go away in a day — leaving the unfortunate mushroom gourmet feeling lucky.

“But the damage has been done,” Bauer said.

Some mushrooms that cause temporary symptoms may cause damage to internal organs that could be fatal if the experience is repeated, he said.

“You have to know what's edible and what is not,” he said.

One display included 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.

But it has two near-twins that also grow in the area, the false chantrelle and the fuzzy chantrelle.

Melissa Kanas, 37, of Sequim, has been gathering mushrooms since she was 22, but last year was the first time she attended a mushroom show.

“I didn't realize how many look-alikes there are for chantrelles,” Kanas said.

“You've got to be careful about mushroom differentiation,” she said. “Watch what you pick.”

The flip side of the dangers of mushrooms is the reward of getting the right one.

Boletes are the king of mushrooms, Bauer said.

A single thumb-size bolete, also known as a porcini, can go for as much as $150 on a steak dinner at some restaurants, he said.

The key to gathering boletes is to get to them early, before the bugs get them, he said.

The types and amounts of mushrooms that can be picked frequently changes, and there are difference among various locations, said Anne Swenski, an Olympic Peninsula mushroom hunter.

Olympic National Park and other national parks do not allow any mushroom gathering, while state and national forests and state parks allow limited gathering.

People who want to gather mushrooms should check with the appropriate ranger station to get a copy of the current written regulations before gathering anything, Swenski said.

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

“Most people will say yes,” she said.

For more information:

Or write OPMS, P. O. Box 2232, Sequim, WA 98382.

You can reach OPMS President James Deckman by phone at 360-670-3798 or by e-mail at:


Beau and Bobbi Billeaudeaux of Brinnon are veteran mushroom hunters.

"Chantrelle mushroom, both golden and white species, are now fruiting in our local forests," Beau reports. "We are so enjoying this annual treat.

"A prized and locally rare king bolete (Boletus edulis) was found by Bobbi among the chantrelles! [Photos at right]

"[As noted in the article above], it is one of the most sought after of all mushrooms, delectable fresh or dried."

Last modified: September 19. 2013 12:54AM
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