Want to try mushroom hunting? Rachel Zoller, a mushroom educator and founder of Yellow Elanor, recommended three to start looking for:
Pacific Golden Chanterelle
Description: They’re the official state mushroom, in part because they’re plentiful. There are multiple kinds of chanterelles, but most of them, including the Pacific goldens, are — yes — a golden yellow and have a distinctive trumpet shape.
Where to look: “Anywhere you're going to find more mature Douglas fir trees, you're probably going to be able to find chanterelle mushrooms,” says Zoller. “I don't tend to find them in areas where it's been logged in the last 10 or 20 years.”
Notable fact: “They kind of have this really sweet, fruity aroma to them that it doesn't smell mushroomy if that makes sense. [The chanterelle] has a distinct kind of a floral scent to it.”
Description: The hedgehog mushroom is a “peachy creamy color,” says Zoller. “It has little spines on the underside — delicate spines hanging down from the cap.”
Where to look: In the coastal range, particularly on Sitka spruce trees or in groves with a mix of Doug firs and Sitka spruce.
Notable fact: They are located in areas that tend to stay damp into the summer. Once those areas dry up at the end of summer, look for hedgehog mushrooms. ”Animals can help you with your mushroom foraging because I really do see a correlation between where elk like to hang out in the summer and hedgehog mushrooms,” says Zoller.
Chicken of the Woods
Description: There’s a bright orange top with a deep yellow on its underside. Its name comes from the resemblance between the cooked mushroom’s texture and taste and that of poultry.
Location: In the coast range, in the valley, and in the Cascades. Hemlocks are one common host. Look for “trees that are dead or dying.” Unlike the chanterelle, it can be found in areas that have been thinned.
“If I see [a tree] where the top part of the tree has fallen off and it's starting to die, or a recently fallen log, I'll go check those,” says Zoller. “Circle around them, look up and down them, and they might have chicken of the woods growing.”
Notable fact: You may have heard that mushroom hunters don’t often share their secrets on where to go, so they can return to them. That may be particularly true of the chicken of the woods. “Even if chicken of the woods is growing on a tree that's still standing and then that tree falls, it may still continue to produce chicken of the woods for a few years until that nutrient supply is depleted.”
Want to learn other tips on mushroom hunting? Zoller offered the City Cast Portland podcast an insider’s guide to mushroom hunting.