For the rest of the year I will be offering private tours. $30 for an hour, hour and half. I will work with your availability and location. Individual or small groups. Last chance to learn some mushrooms and plants before they all go hibernate!
Fall is here! This is a favorite time of year for me. The weather has begun to cool off, the leaves soon will burst into brilliant, vibrant colors, and it’s the perfect time for camping and bonfires. It has been an unusually dry end to summer and that has left the forest kind of bare of mushrooms. Sadly the mushroom season is coming to close, although a few things are still out there such as Hen of the wood, Chickens, fall Oysters, Turkey Tail, Chaga, Reishi, Birch Polypore and possibly a few other stragglers. For me this means just a few walks left this year. My walk schedule will be pretty limited in the month of October. I have been out a bit recently and found very little, that doesn’t mean there’s not good stuff out there but I have been waiting for some rains to come through before I schedule anything. Basically if it rains in the Asheville or Black Mountain area, than a few days later I will most likely try and do a walk. Just keep an eye on the calendar. Coming this month and through winter I’m excited to add destination hikes! If your new to the area, visiting or simply haven’t explored as much as you’d like. I have been exploring this area for many years and have come to know some really sweet spots, waterfalls, balds, overlooks, historical places and other destinations. Every week I will feature a different one and guide a group along the trail. Most hikes will be between a half hour and hour drive and hikes could be several hours long. I would like to thank everyone who came out for mushroom walks this year, I had some truly lovely groups.
So some news and happenings for October. East Asheville tail gate market ends this friday the 27th. It’s been a good season, thanks to all who came out to support me and there will be a holiday market so stay tuned for that. The Black Mountain Market goes until the end of November and I plan on being there every Saturday except two. On October 12th I will be at the Yancy County market in Burnsville and then again on November 9th. There’s plenty of good tailgating left!
***this event has been cancelled****
Also on Saturday, October 12th, from 1:30-4pm, which is after the market, in Burnsville, I will be doing a presentation at Kate’s Garden Refuge. You can follow this link to register: https://katesgardenrefuge.com/event/the-healing-power-of-medicinal-mushrooms/
I will be presenting on Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail and Lions Mane mushrooms and talking about some edible and poisonous ones as well. Kate will be doing a singing bowl mediation afterwards by donation. If you’ve never done this you really should, it’s a truly amazing, relaxing experience!!
Another big announcement is that I will be doing a workshop at the LEAF festival!! You can follow this link to see myself and the other healing arts presenters: https://www.theleaf.org/healing-arts/
I will be talking about the good and bad mushrooms in our region, I’ll have tea samples and also be doing a short mushroom hunt. I’ve been volunteering and going to the LEAF festival since I moved here 9 years ago and I super excited to be a part of it as a presenter.
This months mushroom is the fore mentioned Birch polypore. This mushroom is a bracket fungus. It is a polypore, which means no gills. These grow almost always only on Birch trees. They can fruit on the tree for up to a whole year. They start off white and over time turn a tanish brown color. This mushroom was one of the things Ozti, the iceman mummy found frozen in the Alps in the 90s, was carrying on him. You can eat the young version of these mushrooms and they aren’t bad at all. However it’s main uses come in the medicinal properties it holds. It is used as an immune tonic, it is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-tumor, anti-parasitic, anti-viral and anti-bacterial. It is being studied for both cancer and HIV treatments. It also is good to help start fires! I admired this mushroom for years, always wondering what it was used for and upon learning all about, I use it now in my medicine cabinet.
Hope you all get out in the beautiful fall weather and enjoy some hiking, camping, foraging or just sitting on your porch.
“Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art a mushroom” —Thomas Carlyle
Dare I say fall is at the door step. What a summer in the mushroom world, so many amazingly huge flushes made for good foraging fun in the forest. Having observed and foraged for many years now, it’s interesting to witness how unpredictable the seasons can be from year to year. Some mushrooms growing at times they didn’t the year before, some are more abundant than previous years and some are less abundant. Just mother nature keeping us guessing. Fall brings us some wonderful stuff and marks the last few months of gathering before the long winter.
As September begins I’m off on a westward adventure for a few weeks. I will be traveling to the Grand Canyon, Sedona, antelope canyon and all places in-between with my partner. This means a break from walks and markets. I will try and squeeze in a few more walks when I return on the 23rd and resume markets that week as well. I will however be at the East Asheville tail gate market this Friday the 6th from 3-6 and this Saturday, the 7th at the Black Mountain market from 9-12. So if you have any tincture or tea needs before I go this would be the chance to grab them, so come see me.
The highlights of this month are two great mushrooms, Honeys and Hens. The Honey mushrooms can bring some confusion and uncertainty. Interesting fact about Honey mushrooms, they are the largest living organism, covering 2,385 acres, that’s just one long network of mycelium that was recorded in Oregon. It also may be the oldest living organism estimated to be between 2,400-8,650 years old!! Honeys have a few distinct characteristics. They grow in clusters, sometimes at the base of trees, sometimes just by themselves on the ground. Honeys usually have rings, vales on the top of the stems, they have little black speckles on the cap, light, tan colored gills and stringy stems. The spore print of Honeys is white and you can often observe this within the clusters, one growing on top of another often leaves that white, powdery print on the caps of the ones below it. There are two types, ringed and ringless. Ringless have smoother caps without speckles and no vale or ring, hence the name. The look alike to Honeys is called the Deadly Galerina, which have more helmet like caps, are darker brown and dark brown gills, however the stems look very similar.
Sautéing Honey mushrooms in butter and oil with some fresh herbs is always great. The stringy stems are super good! A slight caution is that Honeys have been known to cause some gastrointestinal issues and best eaten in small portions.
Below is the Deadly Galerina:
Hen of the Wood, also known as Maitake, is the other feature of the month. These mushrooms are some of my favorites! I love the taste of Hens and finding them can be challenging and I love that, they blend in really well with the forest floor. To start the season of the Hens, they grow in high elevations before making their way down to the lower elevations. They typically grow at the base of Oak trees. Hens are medicinal, having immune boosting qualities, contain high levels of vitamin D, may help fight cancers, contain anti-oxidants, and protect against diabetes. That’s good, healthy eating. They are a real gem in the mushroom world!
Sometimes they get mistaken for the Black Staining polypore. Which is also edible but not nearly as good.
Here’s a tasty recipe for Hens and Honeys by the Forager Chef:
The plant of the month is the Kousa Dogwood and it’s tasty fruit. The flower of the Dogwood tree is our official state flower. The fruits are red and plump and can be a highly enjoyable treat. The secret here is to pick the fruit when it’s bright red and ripe, otherwise it could have a real bitter taste.
Here’s one idea of what do with the fruits: http://www.lessnoise-moregreen.com/2013/09/foraging-for-kousa-dogwood-berries-and.html
I’m looking forward to getting out of town for alittle and coming back refreshed and ready to pick up where I’m leaving off. I’ll be sharing my adventures when I return for sure. Enjoy the change in the seasons, the cooler nights and the upcoming colors of fall! Hope everyone gets out there and enjoys the tastes of September. As always happy hunting…..
Newsletter August :
The word coming out of the end of July is ‘RAIN’. We have been blessed with some wonderful rains in the month of July and it made for an exciting mushroom foraging experience. In July I gathered the most Chanterelles I ever have, seeing familiar patches grow in size and finding new patches as well. Besides that Milky, Leatherback, mushrooms have been wildly abundant also. Unusually Honey mushrooms popped up very early, Hen of the wood showed up and Lobster mushrooms came early. This once again proves nothing in nature is certain and the times they are always changing! The forest ecosystem is a living, breathing entity and much like the human realm, it too changes appearances.
My guided mushroom and plant walks have been in full swing and we have been filling baskets with treasures of all kinds. The tail gate markets have been wonderful and I have been able to offer fresh, wild mushrooms to many local and visiting folks. Sharing knowledge and abundance are core beliefs for me and what I do. I’m excited to see what other surprises will emerge in the woods this month!
This months feature of the mushroom front is the fore mentioned Leatherback milky mushrooms. The taste of these Lactarius mushrooms, to me, is some of the best. They are very meaty and hearty and can go in any creative combination on the dinner plate. There are a few players in the milky family but easy ways to tell the good from the bad. It’s all in the milk! If the milk stings or burns your mouth, it’s bad, also poison milkys have a distinctive ring on the cap. If the milk has a fishy smell and taste than it’s a good one. You may find your fingers stained brown and sticky after picking some Leatherbacks. Also note the gills, the gills of the unfriendly variety tend to be dark and the gills of the Leathers are a light tan. The caps of the Leatherbacks live up to the name, run your fingers across the cap and it feels like leather. The caps can be dark, reddish brown or a light tanish color, both are considered as Leatherbacks. Another beauty in this tasty family is the Blue Indigo milk cap, a personal favorite to find for me. It’s blue and so is it’s milk, some say it tastes like blueberry. There is no shortage of Milkys out right now, so finding them is not a hard hunt. They also grow in pretty big patches, were there is one, there’s more! These mushrooms keep well in the fridge and can be dried for future enjoyment.
The Blue Indigo:
Be on the look out for these poisonous look alikes Pecks and Pepper Milk Caps:
The Milk caps go great in pasta dishes, can be sautéed like most other mushrooms and also you can grill the caps like a Portabella.
Here’s an Indigo recipe: https://www.tyrantfarms.com/a-delicious-indigo-milk-cap-recipe-lactarius-indigo/
The plant feature of the month is the sour tasting Autumn Olive Berry. These little treats make a nice trail snack. They have a sour like flavor, sometimes called sour patch kids. They are high in anti-oxidants also. Here’s a jam recipe- https://ouroneacrefarm.com/2014/09/13/autumn-olive-jam/
Other than these you can also find these mushrooms and plants right now on the trail:
The lobster mushroom, Black Trumpets and Cauliflower :
Wild Indian Cucumber root- Another wonderful snack while out foraging!!
Bolete mushrooms are everywhere as well, these have no gills, instead a spongy bottom and often change colors when bruised. This is a mostly safe family of mushrooms. There many varieties that include lots of different colors, shapes and sizes. The Old Man is one of a few good edibles, along with Painted, Chestnut, King, Slippery Jack (chicken fat), Butter foot and the Shaggy Stalk, most of the rest have a bitter taste. Although a generally safe family of mushrooms, caution can be required. Two general rules of Boletes are, if they have a red bottom or if they bruise blue then stay away!
There’s so much to talk about, I can’t fit it all in one newsletter, but if your interested in learning more sign up for a walk while the getting is good! I will be leading walks through out the fall with many more varieties of mushrooms yet to come!
******Remember that looking at pictures is fine but not the best way to try to identify on your own, going with a trained, knowledgeable guide is the best way to ensure you don’t make a critical mistake. All mushrooms are edible, some are edible only once!******
As always looking forward to seeing new faces and happy hunting!!
NewsLetter: July 2019
It’s July and summer is in with hot days and all kinds of new things popping out. For mushroom season this means a variety of goodies. It’s been a wonderful start for Chicken of the Wood, which have been wildly abundant. The Boletes have just started to make an appearance and the milky mushrooms are dripping. Both of these can be tricky to learn with confidence but have distinguishing features that set the good apart from the bad. Taking a mushroom tour is a great way to learn the differences and I just so happen to have a bunch this month, keep an eye on my calendar for when they happen.
This months highlight are the beautiful Chanterelles. One of the most exciting patches to stumble upon, is one that dots the forest floor with gold! Chanterelle patches can spread out and cover large areas. Rarely will you find just a few. A popular mistake people make is picking them when they are still young and small, given time Chanterelles will grow large and resemble pretty little flowers. The smell of Chants is a pleasant one, some say they smell like apricots. I often can smell them before I even see them. The Chanterelle family is a big one and each of the different varieties are considered choice edibles. Here’s a look at the different ones you might see:
Black trumpets, Golden, Peach, Yellow foot, Cinnabar and Appalachian Chanterelles are all ones you will find in our region. A simple Sautee works best for cooking Chanterelles: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/4174-sauteed-chanterelles
Some of the common mistakes people make are these look alikes:
False Chanterelles and Jack O’ Lanterns. Jacks can be very poisonous and fun fact if you take a fresh one in a dark place the gills might glow green!
There are some great plants out there as well. This months feature is Jewel Weed or Spotted Touch Me Not. This plant is a special one. Poison and Sister Ivy can be a truly unpleasant experience and one of the remedies can be Jewel Weed. The two can be found, conveniently, growing near each other quite often. Jewel Weed is disguised by it’s small orange or yellow flower and red color at the base of the plant.
You can make Jewel Weed ice cubes by crushing up the plant, putting the pieces in an ice cube tray, add water and freezing. Also simply crushing up the plant and rubbing it on the infected area. Here’s a recipe to make Jewel Weed soap: https://simplelifemom.com/2015/07/26/how-to-make-poison-ivy-soap-with-jewelweed/
Until next month Y’all, happy hunting!
Now that you found and foraged or bought some mushrooms to make a tea, how do you it? Well there are a million ways to do anything right, over the years I have done a lot of research, watched a bunch of videos and found that recommendations for making teas from medicinal mushrooms varies quite a bit.
To start with let me give some advice on foraging wild mushrooms. Reishi for example molds very quickly, so drying them completely is essential. My chosen method is to place them on their back, cap down, in the sun. This way the mushroom absorbs additional vitamin D. However if time is an issue or cloudy weather, dehydrating works or opening your oven door, placing the mushrooms on the open door and putting your temperature on low is effective.
Reishi Tea: The best research I have found on making Reishi tea is to use 2 tablespoons of dried Reishi pieces per 4 to 5 cups of water. Simply add mushrooms to water and bring to a boil and then turn down so the tea simmers for 2 hours. The tea will be reduced pretty significantly. There you have it. Reishi tea has a strong, bitter taste. Some like this, for those that don’t might I suggest using lemon, ginger, honey or green tea as an additive.
Here’s a few recipes I found: https://purejoyplanet.com/recipes/medicinal-mushroom-tonic-tea/
Reishi Elderberry Tea
This wonderful tea is a staple during the Winter months. Most herbs can be found at local natural food stores, or online.
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp Reishi mushroom tea
- 1 tbsp dried elderberries
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
- 1 slice astragalus root (optional)
- Honey to taste
Add all ingredients in small pot on the stove. Heat on medium-high until the tea reaches a slow, rolling boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 10–20 minutes (the longer it goes, the stronger it gets). Turn off heat and strain. Add honey or sweetener for taste.
Turkey Tail Tea: For Turkey Tail tea the same ratios apply, so 2 tablespoons per 4 to 5 cups. Add mushrooms to water and bring to boil, then lower to a simmer for an hour. Turkey Tail has a strong mushroom flavor so the same additives can be added. Turmeric can be a nice add in as well.
Turkey Tail and Turmeric Tea
- 1 cup chopped turkey tail mushroom
- 5 cups purified water
- 2.5 teaspoons ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon local honey
- 1 drop lemon essential oil
- Chop the turkey tail mushroom into small pieces and add to a large pot of water on the stove.
- Bring the water to a boil, then simmer for an hour.
- Strain the mixture through a colander. Add a ½ teaspoon of fresh ground turmeric and the honey and stir.
- Add the lemon essential oil and stir again.
- That’s it — time to drink!
If you’d like to add additional flavor, almond milk, one drop of cinnamon, ginger or lemon essential oil, or stevia are good options.
Feel free to add the rest of your turmeric to your leftovers while it’s still warm since it’s easier to blend, and keep any leftovers in the refrigerator. You can then reheat or serve chilled or on ice. —- Dr. Axe
Chaga Tea: Making Chaga tea is a bit different. You could once again use the same measurements of 2 tablespoons to 4-5 cups of water, I make bigger batches to be able to drink for days. So I double the amount, 4 tablespoons per 2 qts of water. Bring water with Chaga added to a high simmer, 150 degrees if you have a thermometer, or small rolling bubbles if you don’t. It’s important to not boil the Chaga for the first two batches, as it lessens the medicinal qualities. On the third batch bring it a hard boil to extract anything left in the Chaga. Chaga chunks or powder can be used three times before discarding! Chaga tastes good by itself and is neutral in flavor, it can be earthy at times. I like to add fresh ginger, turmeric or licorice roots and a touch of honey.
Recipes on the web: https://www.jesselanewellness.com/recipes/chaga-mushroom-tea-recipes/
- 3 cups cold chaga tea
- 2 fresh squeezed lemons
- 2 tablespoons honey/maple syrup
- fresh berries
- 1 tablespoon lavender
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint
Mix together in a pitcher, chill and serve
I certainly can’t say enough about the power of this odd medicinal mushroom. I was diagnosed with arthritis in both my knees several years ago, after having surgeries. they told me I had bone on bone spurs and could feel every bit of that. When I discovered Chaga nine years ago I was hooked and have been drinking it everyday since. I truly believe it has helped tremendously to keep swelling at bay and relieve pain in my knees, not to mention I haven’t gotten sick from the common cold in those years since adding it to my daily routine! I have done endless research over the years on Chaga and found a lot. In the East, especially places like Eastern Eurpoe and China, Chaga has been used in traditional and folk medicine for centuries. It was even discovered in a small pouch carried by an iceman found in the alps in the 90s, believed that he used it for immunity in the harsh climate and as a fire starter. Chaga is found in high elevations, anywhere from 3,500 ft and up and only grows medicinally on birch trees. It is refereed to as the ‘King Of Medicinal Mushrooms’ for great reason.
Here’s a list of wonderful benefits:
- Immune system super booster and regulator
- Highly Anti-Inflammatory
- Highest of any food in Anti-Oxidants
- May reduce the size of cancerous tumors
- Protects DNA from aging damage
- Provides natural energy, containing many vitamins including B-complex and vitamin D
- Protects the skin against sun damage
- Contains high levels of Melanin to enhance skin and eye color
- Lowers cholesterol
- Contains Zinc, Fiber, Magnesium, Copper, and Iron
- Those are just some!!
The way Chaga grows is a bit of a mystery. Here is a chart of how it infects a tree:
I study Chaga quite a bit and I am always looking for more explanations and information where ever I can. I found many great articles that explain Chaga from scientific and health points of view. Check them out if your interested in knowing more! Follow the links below…
In one epic hunt I broke a personal record that once was 27 pounds. This forage hauled in 47 pounds of beautiful Chaga! Along with my lovely partner, we had an amazing time hiking and collecting the diamond of the forest. As is the practice always, we used sustainable methods to extract the Chaga, leaving 30% to regrow and not harm the tree.
Theres something about being in an old growth forest that gives off the feeling of being in a place that is unquie and frozen in time. Like being inside a fantasy world. I can feel ancestors that long before collected medicine there. Perhaps for me, it’s the getting a little older that really makes me appreciate the wonder of it all a little more than before. This particular forage I felt myself slow down and notice my surroundings completely, enjoy the spring season happening all around. Sometimes tuning in as a practice really helps your focus and awareness but also allows the connection with the place your in to happen. I especially feel like that is definitely a key to a good mushroom hunt. Sort of like listening for them.
I believe this medicine, like all medicinal plants and mushrooms, is here to help us live healthier lives, to treat and cure diseases and illness, and are a part of the grand design. This world, however it was created, seems to have been structured perfectly, with everything people could need, namely food, medicine and shelter. The forest provides and we have to protect and care for it. The greatest threats seem to come from careless human decisions, such as too much development, once protected lands to be sold, mass natural resource extraction, pollution and on and on. When used wholesomely and ethically, nature regenerates and replenishes a lot of what is used.
Chaga has the ability to regrow when harvested right, over and over until the trees death. Now these trees are already doomed that contain Chaga, as it grows from the center out and is slowly killing the tree, acting like a tumor (which for us, it has been shown to reduce tumors).
I believe in a local economy, where the people that live in a community get what they need from their own surroundings. Tailgate and farmers markets, small businesses owned by families or individuals. Farmers and gardeners, hunters and gatherers. We dont need huge companies that use mass amounts of resources, we need to look to our own neighbors and support them.
Wild crafting such as I and many others do is a sustainable practice that provides for the people around us. It’s the way people used to do things, especially the native culture to our home country. I really feel blessed to have found this passion for foraging, teaching, learning and being connected to the natural world and for the chance to share it with others.
All that said, I’ve been feeling pretty grateful having found so much medicine to be able to bring to people who need it!
I did a three day, (well actually four day, had to update this) marathon of Chaga foraging, going to some of my favorite spots in the Blueridge mountains. One of my biggest finds highlighted one day and one piece I’ve been after for months was a huge triumph on another day (took an hour to get that baby out of the tree, at least twenty feet up). Spring has finally broken through the winters long curtain and it is one of the best times of the year to go out exploring. Flowers are blooming, the leaves are growing back in and mushrooms are creeping out slowly from beneath the soil, waking from their slumber. The black bears are emerging once again and the sun is warmer at last. Having traveled some this winter and not getting out as much as I love to has pushed me to go into the wild, like days of old. I once hiked everyday without fail for a whole year straight, almost. That passion never leaves me but sometimes sleeps within…it has been refreshing to get back at it! Foraging 3 of the last 4 days in a row brought my spirit some needed peace, I took a day to rest, soak in a hot tub and sit in a steam room to replenish, and have ramped up my adventuring and it feels so good, although it does ache alittle more as I embrace my forties! As more and more people have come to learn about the healing power of Chaga and other medicinal mushrooms, I have an increased drive to share the gifts of the forest with them. The circle of interest has grown locally and providing healthy, healing, alternative, natural medicine is what I believe to be my calling. We are truly blessed in this region with a very diverse and special environment. Next month will begin the wonderous mushroom season and I cant wait to lead hikes and teach what I know. Stay tuned for more adventures and announcements of what’s going on!
2019 is off to a big start! In the first two months so far I have collected quite a bit of Chaga and been on several hunts. I also got my products in a local health food store called Roots and Fruits Market, that is hosting a Saturday winter market which I have been involved in as well. The Appalachia Guild of Healing Arts, in downtown Asheville also has a nice display of my products. This is all wonderfully exciting news as I continue on living what I love. I’m getting ready for spring and picking up where I left off last year with more mushroom and plant walks and being involved in more tailgate markets. I have also increased my tincture production and looking to add in some new ones such as Birch Polypore, Pipsissewa, Mullen and Rattlesnake Plantain, to help promote healthy livers, kidneys, lungs, urinary tracts and immune systems. I will be doing presentations along with everything else too. Hope to bring more natural medicine to more people this year, come out and find me in and around Asheville. East Asheville tailgate market will open again in May, and Black Mountain tailgate market also in May.
***My next presentation is happening Sunday, March 10th at 12:30-3pm at Kate’s Garden Refuge (375 Presnell Hollow rd) in Burnsville, NC 28714. Kate will be preforming a singing bowl meditation at the end of the event for 30 minutes, which is truly amazing stuff! The event costs $10-20 sliding scale and the singing bowls is by donation.***