Local mushroom hunters forage for fungus
Published August 28, 2013
OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — For every edible mushroom, there is a poisonous mushroom.
“Some of them look alike,” said mushroom expert Sandy Sheine.
Sheine is the education chair of the North American Mycological Association and a member of the Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club. The club promotes education about mushroom hunting as a fascinating and rewarding hobby.
Michigan has many species of wild mushrooms growing in parklands from early spring through fall. “Mushrooms grow from spores — they are very, very tiny,” Sheine said to a group of mushroom-hunting enthusiasts Aug. 25 at the new Nature Center located in Lost Lake Park on Predmore Road.
“Little fingers come out from the spores and then they intertwine,” Sheine said. “Mycelium is the organism of the mushroom; the threads wrap themselves around the roots of trees and the fruiting body will begin to grow, like an apple.”
Sheine passed around about a dozen different varieties of mushrooms she had picked within the past week, explaining the characteristics of chicken mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, chanterelles, shitake and more.
Morel mushrooms have a long history with Michigan mushroom foragers.
“The morel season is only in May,” she said. “Up North, they grow under poplars and ash trees. Here we look for dying elm trees. There are a lot of morels around here.”
“The most poisonous mushroom is an amanita,” Sheine said, holding a white mushroom with a bulb and ring around one end. “Do not eat it.”
Although an antidote is available for those who ingest a poisonous mushroom, people do not exhibit symptoms for three days. By that time, the kidneys, liver and other organs are compromised, she said.
Sheine said puppy owners should never allow their dogs to roam around a backyard alone.
“Puppies will eat anything; there is a lot of mushroom poisoning of puppies,” she said. But if deer eat the same poisonous mushrooms, they may not be affected. “Deer have different physiology,” she said.
The Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club offers education and resources for mushroom-hunters, and schedules forays and activities. Fungus Fest is planned for Sept. 20-22 at Proud Lake Recreation Area in Commerce. Activities include forays, presentations and a mushroom dye workshop.
Sheine said all foraged and purchased mushrooms should be cooked for at least seven minutes before eating. “We tell people to not eat mushrooms raw in a salad bar,” she said. “They have a little poison in them. Do not eat any raw mushrooms — I mean any. It could be really serious. Don’t put mushrooms in your freezer raw. They can change and become poisonous.”
About a dozen area residents followed Sheine on a wooded trail in Lost Lake Park on the lookout for mushrooms, including Glen Tansley of Oakland Township.
“I’ve got plenty of mushrooms in my yard,” Tansley said. “I am curious about if some are worth eating. I hate to waste them if they are good.”
Oakland Township resident Alex Dognovski said he has picked mushrooms with a friend and wants to learn more.
“My friend is a pro,” Dognovski said. “He eats them with wine and butter. But I don’t have the confidence he has.”
For more information about the Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club and Fungus Fest, visit www.michiganmushroomhunters.org.
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