As the seasons turn towards fall,

Recent School Harvest

a mystical shift occurs in the forest, and traipsing off trail across mossy hills, leaves glistening with fresh rain, and mist flowing through the trees like a forest spirit, in search of fleshy fungi, is one of the seasons highlights.

Our fungalphobic society is especially enchanted with the intoxicating attraction of the delicious, mind-expanding, mystical allure of the fungi.  Buried deeply in the mythos of most American’s subconscious is a deep quiet place filled with fear, awe, repulsion, and attraction and weird fascination with the kingdom of Fungi.

At Vital Ways Institute we guide students to understanding many of the gifts of nature.  And mushrooms are one of our favorites.

Forest bathing as the Japanese call it, is a way to deeply drink in all the sights, smells, and feelings in such a place-



Of the thousands of mushrooms that one encounters,

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 classes at Vital Ways Institute.

Agaricus augustus                       The Prince

Boletus edulis                                 King Bolete, Porcini, Cep

Boletus fibrillosis

Aureoboletus  mirabilis            Admirable bolete

Cantharellus spp.                         Chanterelle

Happy mushroomer

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 easiest, and safest mushrooms to identify and harvest is the Chanterelle. Here are the key features and most common lookalikes:

The most commonly harvested medicinal fungi are the Conks

Relatives of the famous Chinese Reishi, our specimens are relatively easy to identify and make medicine from.  Here is list of the most common and their identifying characteristics.

Remember that mushrooms like of all nature, should be respected for their medicine and well understood before one chooses to make a meal or healing broth from them.  There are many more known toxic and those whose safety is not yet established than there are mushrooms that are edible and choice.

The author with Chicken of the Woods

The list above is a great group to start learning and you should always consult with an expert before eating anything that you aren’t 100% sure of.

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 fungus gathering.