Mushrooms have long been a subject of mystery and intrigue. While some are revered, many others are feared. It’s partly that mysterious aura that captivates so many people. With over 60,000 known species of fungi and 100 new species being discovered each month, learning to identify mushrooms is a daunting task. It is so daunting in fact, that many would-be mushroom hunters don’t even give it a try. If you’re interested, but find the thought just too overwhelming, attending a mushroom foray is a great way to get started.
What is a Mushroom Foray?
A mushroom foray is an event where wild mushroom enthusiasts gather to hunt for mushrooms. In some cases they divide into groups with each group having at least one knowledgeable or expert hunter. Everyone collects mushrooms and then returns at a pre-specified time to examine and compare their finds.
There is usually an expert mycologist (a scientist who specializes in the study of fungi) running the event who assists the participants with the mushroom identification. The mushrooms are separated into taxonomic families and then identified down to species level when possible. If the event is a multiple-day gathering, the edibles from the day’s hunt are often prepared and served to the foragers as part of their meal.
What to Expect
Naturalist and wild mushroom enthusiast, Diane Holsinger, is a member of several mushrooming clubs, including the Mycological Association of Washington, D.C. She attended her first foray several years ago in West Virginia. Since that time she has attended forays all over the world, including Newfoundland and Italy!
“One of the best forays I’ve ever attended was in Telluride, Colorado,” explains Holsinger. “This particular event included a mushroom parade, lectures on the medicinal uses of mushrooms, workshops on how to grow mushrooms, and information on how to cook using different types of mushrooms. In the field, Bolete edilus (commonly known as porcinis) were everywhere! It was a fantastic learning experience.”
Mushroom Foray Q & A
Q: How can I find a foray near me?
A: Simply do an internet search using “mushroom foray [insert your city here]”.
Q: Does it cost to attend a mushroom foray?
A: While some forays can be expensive (especially when lodging and meals are included), others are totally free.
Q: Do I have to register in advance or can I just show up?
A: Most forays require that you register in advance, and many limit the number of participants allowed.
Q: Do I need any special equipment to participate in a foray?
A: No special equipment is needed. Just dress appropriately for the weather and bring a breathable, non-plastic container for collecting.
Q: What if I know nothing about mushrooms … can I still attend?
A: Absolutely! Most forays welcome beginners and experienced mushroomers alike.
Cherri Megasko is a naturalist with a degree in environmental science. She lives in the Shenandoah Valley with her husband, three dogs, four chickens and 12.6 acres of woodland creatures.