Sunday, September 25, 2011

Road Tripping for Mushrooms

Maggie the Wonder Dog and I needed a break from the Florida heat and humidity and feeling very mushroom deprived, we decided to head out on a road trip up north where Autumn is in full swing and the mushrooms are popping all over.  This year is producing a bumper crop of mushrooms thanks to Hurricane Irene and tropical storm Lee.  Pennsylvania and the Northeast are in the zone for some of the best mushrooming to be seen in decades.

We were heading to Southcentral Pennsylvania and our route took us through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia before reaching our destination.  While stopped for a "potty" break for Maggie, we took a stroll through the woods at the Virginia welcome center and found a bunch of gorgeous Amanitas. Since most of my mushroom hunting and species knowledge is based on mushrooms west of the Mississippi, I am new to eastern species so bear with me while I mutter my way through this.
Driving through the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia, we crossed over The New River Gorge Bridge, the longest single span arch bridge in the US.  We stopped so I could take a photo of it since you can't see anything when you are actually ON the bridge.  It's quite a beauty!

The first day in Pennsylvania was rainy all day.  That makes for wet mushrooms, wet people, wet dogs and wet camera equipment, so suffice to say, I did not take too many photos that day.  I did manage a few with my iPhone though!  The weather did improve as the week progressed so I did manage to get some photos of the vast variety of mushroom species out there in the woods.  I am not accustomed to walking in deciduous, hardwood forests and these mushrooms are foreign to me by comparison to west coast mushrooms, Pacific Northwest mushrooms and those I found in SW Montana so the variety available to me was astounding!

Here are some photos to give you an idea of what a mushroom fairyland I was visiting:

The last day I really wanted to go searching for paw paws and had heard there was to be a paw paw festival in Paw Paw, West Virginia, so my friend and I took off for a day trip to Paw Paw to the festival.  Unfortunately, when we got there, we were told the festival does not take place anymore and hasn't for a few years (don't believe what you read online!!!) so we were out of luck.  So, not to be a total loss, we drove around town, marvelling at all the paw paw trees (Asimina triloba) and found some paw paws growing on a tree outside the front door of the post office.  We picked all we could reach and ate some right away!  Mmmm tasty!

1 comment:

Mack said...

Wow! These are amazing finds! But, are they all edible? Hmm. Though I love eating mushroom, I’m still not that very familiar with the poisonous types. How I wish I can go mushroom hunting someday! I want to see how they look like when they’re fresh and raw!

-Mack Shepperson