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‘Shrooms Anyone?

September 23, 2011 Green Blog 1 Comment
Puff mushrooms pop up in the Kentlands neigborhood. Gaithersburg, MD

Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea) mushrooms pop up in the Kentlands neighborhood, Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Gaithersburg, MD

September 23, 2011

By Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin

Photo: Helen Jurkowski


‘Tis the season for picking mushrooms.  Take a look at the green patches in your neighborhood, under trees, in mulch and on logs.  You will find both edible and unedible mushrooms popping up on all these surfaces.  Black Chanterelles, Shaggy Maine, Puff Balls, Chicken of the Wood and Honey mushrooms are some of the varieties growing around the Washington, D.C. area.

It is important to know that some mushrooms are extremely poisonous.  Novice mushroom pickers should test the waters of mushroom picking with an experienced mycologist at their side.  A biologist who studies fungi or someone who has trained with a mycologist will help the novice avoid dangerous mishaps!

Mushrooms tend to grow in forest-type settings, but the recent heavy rains in the Washington, D.C. metro area have created the perfect environment for a variety of mushroooms to appear and thrive in conventional neighborhood lawns.  With moist soil, humid air and less mowing in the fall, a perfect environment for mushroom spores is created.

“Mushrooms grow where no fungicides have been applied or where there’s been no chemical treatments,” says Raymond LaSala, President of the Mycological Association of Washington DC.  “Mushrooms tend to grow in greener, lusher arks or rings of grass.  They favor shady areas,” she added.  LaSala explained that mushroom picking is almost a year-round activity, except during winter when the ground is frozen.

According to LaSala, the art of mushroom hunting and picking is alive and well in this region.  The Mycological Association of Washington DC was first started in 1981 and is still going strong, even helping to identify new species of mushrooms.  Its members meet once each month and organize mushroom pickings and culinary events.

On Saturday October 2nd, the Mycological Association of Washington DC will host the 10th Annual free Family Mushroom Festival at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland, from 12:00 – 5:00 pm.  The venue will offer crafts, mushroom recipes and talks about mushrooms, of course!

The art of picking and mushroom cultivating goes beyond the realm of recreational pickers.  The University of Maryland Forest Education Extension program has workshops throughout the year for forest landowners to learn how to earn additional income from their land.  The university’s  extension program suggests growing shitake mushrooms on oak logs, and offers detailed information on how to cultivate these nutritious mushrooms on its website.

A forestry workshop slated for October 25th  in Jefferson, Maryland, will include a presentation by a Maryland shitake mushroom farmer.


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    Testing to make sure this works.

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