There are thousands of varieties of mushroom for culinary and medicinal purposes. In the world of foraging pastures and woodlands, these organisms conjure up mystery. Mushrooms are not plants and are considered a fungus! They are the fruiting bodies of fungi, the production of spores.

Cultivated mushrooms include button, portobello, shiitake or oyster mushrooms. You’ll find these in most grocery stores. Cultivated mushrooms are ones which are grown commercially.

Wild mushrooms include truffles, morels and chanterelles. These are often available at local markets, specialty stores, or directly from growers who forage them off tree roots.

When foraging for wild mushrooms you will need to start to look near trees, especially decaying sycamore, hickory, ash, elm, aspen, coniferous or fruit trees. Areas with sandy soil, like creeks and riverbeds can also be hotspots. You can also search around or under trees, at the base of dead or dying trees, hardwood logs, stumps, and standing dead trees. They reproduce above ground, on soil, or on its food source.

The trees I look for in my area are oak, birch, maple, beach, poplar and cherry in hardwood forest. I look for them on the wounds of living hardwood trees, as well as on recently felled trees. It's better to cut them instead of pick them, because it preserves their underground system. Foraging intentionally slows me down so I become more aware and more intimate with the land.

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