As the spiraling of our earth around a distant enormous ball of fiery hydrogen occurs, and the tilt of our orb’s axis reduces the angle of the lumination, and therefore heat, temperature weather, and all of us organisms affected by it enter into a new phase that we call Autumn.
This leads to a mystical shift in NW forests, where traipsing off-trail across verdant mossy hills, leaves glistening with fresh rain and mist flowing through the trees on the wind like forest spirits, in search of fleshy fungi, is undertaken by those with a special connection and knowledge to the lesser-known kingdom of creatures, the fungi.
Our fungo-phobic culture is especially enchanted with the intoxicating attraction of the delicious, occasionally mind-expanding, mystical allure of the mushrooms. Buried deeply in the mythos of most American’s subconscious is a deep quiet place filled with fear, awe, repulsion, attraction, and fascination with the kingdom of Fungi.
At Vital Ways Institute, we guide students to unlocking the secrets of nature, and very few are so enjoyably unlocked as occurs as we engage in Forest Bathing as the Japanese call it, as we learn to identify and harvest wild edible and medicinal mushrooms.
Of the thousands of mushrooms that one encounters in NW woods,
there are some, who through their beauty, unusualness, flavor, or medicine, call to us more than others. Here is a list of the most common edibles that we harvest in our classes at Vital Ways Institute.
Agaricus augustus The Prince
Boletus edulis King Bolete, Porcini, Cep
Aureoboletus mirabilis Admirable bolete
Cantharellus spp. Chanterelle
Gomphus clavitus Pigs ears
Hericeum ssp. Lion’s mane
Hydnum repandum Hedgehog
Hypomyces lactifluorum Lobster
Laetiporous sulphureus Chicken of the Woods
Morchella esculenta Morels
Sparassis crispa Cauliflower
Tricholoma murrillianum Matsutake
By far the most commonly harvested-Chanterelles
The most commonly harvested medicinal fungi are the Conks
Remember that mushrooms, like all of nature, should be very well understood, prior to harvesting and consuming.
There are many fungi that are poisonous, some in our forests and fields are even deadly, so no wild mushrooms should ever be consumed, without expert identification.
The list of mushrooms above is a wonderful starting place for those interested in expanding their nature awareness and possibly harvesting food or medicine from the forest.
At Vital Ways Institute, we teach mushroom foraging and medicine making as part of the curriculum in each class, and we offer several mushroom education classes for the public. If you want to join a class, please reach out, and/or sign up for our mailing list.
Wishing you many happy and safe days, forest bathing, and safe fungus gathering.