The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


July 18, 2013

In search of the wild mushroom

"Nature is antique and its oldest art, the mushroom."

It seems that wild mushrooms have always served as a "mystical portal" between this world and some otherworldly place. Smurfs are small, blue, human-like creatures that live under magical mushrooms. Fairies are known to dance under mushroom rings and sorcerers use mushrooms in their potions.

Some mushrooms literally glow in the dark thanks to a phenomenon known as "foxfire." Unfortunately, all of this mystery has led many people to believe that eating wild mushrooms will kill them. That's a real shame because these fruits of the forest are downright yummy. You just need to educate yourself about which ones to eat and which ones to avoid, much like learning the difference between sweet corn and field corn or ornamental ivy and poison ivy.

The wet and cool spring that we had this year coupled with this week's warm, humid weather are perfect ingredients for great wild mushroom foraging. For children who don't want to be left inside this summer, this type of foraging could be a fun, delicious and educational family outing. Just imagine going back to school and telling all of your friends about hunting wild mushrooms and eating them too. A photo of you seated in a patch of beautiful bright-orange Chicken of the Woods mushrooms would be a great Facebook profile picture.

If you're not convinced that you could safely learn how to forage for wild mushroom on your own, you might want to attend a seminar that will be held at the R. B. Winter State Park this coming Saturday at 2 p.m. Bill Russell, who is one of our state's top wild mushroom experts, will lead this seminar in the Halfway Run Environmental Learning Center. He will introduce you and your family members to the fascinating world of fungi. During the seminar you will learn what's edible and what's not and the important role mushrooms have in the forest. As an added bonus, if the weather cooperates, there will be a walk in the nearby woods in search of some tasty treats.

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