Collecting wild mushrooms
by Philippe Faucon 10/3/2001

The Fly Agaric or Toadstool (Amanita muscaria) is extremely toxic  

Mushrooms are found in many places in Arizona. You might have seen some in your lawn, or coming out from the soil mixture in a newly potted plant.

While many are delicious, some mushrooms are deadly. Learning to differentiate them is essential. It is important to go pick up mushrooms with some one that has done that before, and joining a club is very useful.

Wild mushrooms are much better and tastier than cultivated mushrooms, and there is something special about picking up mushrooms in the woods and then bringing them back home to cook. Most mushrooms are picked in the mountains where collecting them in the cool humid weather is a relief after the summer temperatures in the valley.

An unidentified but very common mushroom, we won't pick it up.

A typical road side desert flower association of Coulter's Lupine, Brittle Bush and Globe Mallow

Copyright Mapquest 2001

Because of the unreliable rain pattern in Arizona, mushrooms quantities are less reliable than in other parts of the country. A rule of thumb is that mushrooms are found a couple of weeks after a good rain. The monsoon, and just after it finishes is a good time to go and collect them.

For this outing, we are going to the White Mountains, past Pinetop, in Apache country. This is among the higher elevations of Arizona. Because it is in the Apache reservation, you need a permit to enjoy outdoor activities there (including mushroom picking) and you can purchase it for $6 per car.

Mushroom is the fruiting part of an underground fungus. The fungus stays there year round, feeding on organic matter, and occasionally produces mushroom, to generate the spores that will help propagating the fungus in other places. Fungi are vital to the life balance of the forest.

Some books:

Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America : A Field-To-Kitchen Guide
by David W. Fischer, Alan E. Bessette



National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms
by Gary A. Lincoff, Gary H. Lincoff

The Lobster Mushroom (Encelia farinosa) is a parasite of other types of mushroom.  It is excellent, but you should ascertain which mushroom it is parasiting.

The King Bolete (Boletus edulis) is a choice mushroom.  It is fairly common in the Arizona mountains.

Some Clubs:

North American Mycological Association

The Arizona Mushroom Club's

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Text and Pictures 2001 Philippe Faucon, All Rights Reserved.