Tropical Storm Irene and other recent rainstorms may have been a nuisance to some, but it’s made for a bountiful season for mushroom foragers.
“It’s a wonderful time for mushrooms. There’s lots of them out. Good rains have prompted that,” said founder of Mushrooms for Health in Rockland, Greg Marley.
Marley, who teaches classes and conducts lectures across the state and around New England, said the Black Trumpet mushrooms are plentiful right now.
“Black Trumpets have been fruiting in numbers that I haven’t seen for years. In central Maine, especially,” said Marley.
Candice Heydon, co-owner of Oyster Creek Mushrooms in Damariscotta, said she can get 100 pounds of Black Trumpets brought to her store a night.
“They’re everywhere,” she said. “They’re one of the best. Big flavor. Nice mushroom.”
Heydon said she has also been getting many Lobster and Yellowfoot Winter Chanetelles as well.
Much like flowers, different types of mushrooms grow in different seasons.
“Some fruit in the spring, some are primarily mid-summer and some we don’t begin to see until September and others not until around the first frost,” said Marley.
A strong season of mushrooms brings many foragers. Marley said there are always people interested in starting to forage for mushrooms.
“I’m constantly amazed of how many people who are interested in learning about mushrooms,” he said. “I did a talk this past Tuesday and the room was packed to capacity. Some people were sitting on the floor. At least 120 people were in there and some couldn’t get in the room.
“[All] for a Tuesday night talk about mushrooms,” Marley laughed.
Marley has a set of guidelines he urges new foragers to read because there are many poisonous varieties of mushrooms. He said it’s just as important to know which ones are poisonous as knowing which ones are edible.
“Eating mushrooms should never be considered an extreme sport,” he said.
He hands out his guidelines at lectures, and he said they will be available on his website, www.mushrooms4health.com, by next week.
“They’re pretty straightforward guidelines to go about doing this in terms of staying safe,” said Marley.
The first item on his list is to buy one or more good mushroom field guides.
Heydon recommended a book by Maine author David Spahr called, ‘Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms of New England and Eastern Canada.’
“I really urge people to learn the mushrooms in the area that they live in,” said Marley. “You can go anywhere in the state and find mushrooms. Diverse forests always give you more diversity [in mushrooms]. If you have an area that has a good mix of hardwoods and conifers, you’ll have a larger range of mushrooms.”
His guidelines also recommend staying away from potentially contaminated sites such as busy roadways, landfills, railroad beds and golf courses.
Marley also encourages people to take classes and to befriend local mushroom collectors.
“Start slow. Try one new species at a time. Be 100 percent sure you know the mushroom and that it is edible,” he said.
He also added that mushrooms should be cooked before eating.
“Many are hard to digest if you eat them raw and some are slightly toxic if you eat them raw,” said Marley. “The Morel mushroom, the most commonly eaten wild mushroom across America, can make you sick if eaten raw.”
Marley will be speaking at the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. He also will lecture at the Rockland Public Library at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4.