Field Notes: a Northwest nature blog

One of the reasons many of us live in the Pacific Northwest is the natural wonders that amaze us all. On this blog Seattle Times writers and photographers will share their explorations of the natural world from snowcaps to whitecaps. Write us at with your own sightings, questions and wonders to share.

October 7, 2011 at 7:00 AM

Fall mushroom hunting goes the way of the weather

Posted by Matt Ironside

Corrected version

Information in this article, originally published October 7, 2011, was corrected October 10, 2011. A previous version of this story incorrectly named the yellow chanterelle by a former classification Cantharellus cibarius. It is now commonly recognized as two separate species, Cantharellus formosus and Cantharellus cascadensis.


The lobster mushrooms, Hypomyces lactifluorum, from this hunt made it seem more like September than October.

If you've been following the weather through the spring and summer, the news on the fall mushroom hunting season is going to be no surprise to you. The spring was cool, wet and stretched into the summer. Our celebrated cherry harvest got pushed past the 4th of July, and spring mushrooms followed suit.

Fall reports on the apple harvest and the grape harvest are suggesting not much has changed. What I'm hearing from other hunters and seeing myself says that the wild mushrooms in the first week of October seem to still think it is the middle of September.

The main edible find in my latest trip into the forest was lobster mushrooms, Hypomyces lactifluorum, in some pretty good quantities. On any hunt, it's good to bring home dinner, but one doesn't typically expect to bring home a bundle of lobsters this late.

Typically, by October the woods are filled with mushrooms, edible and not. Unlike spring hunting, fall hunting in the Pacific Northwest is more mushroom identifying than actually trying to find mushrooms growing. But this weekend, the lobsters I found accounted for the majority of mushrooms I saw. Bottom line: This is not going to be your typical fall hunting season.

For chanterelle hunters and shoppers wondering where the typical abundance is, I saw signs of hope. I picked a small meal's worth of yellow chanterelles, Cantharellus cibarius Cantharellus formosus or Cantharellus cascadensis, but saw many more that I deemed too small to pick. I also found a meal's worth of pig's ears, Gomphus clavatus. Again though, the size and conditions of these were suggesting a season that's about three weeks late.

The question that raises for hunters is what do the current conditions mean for the rest of the season. I think a lot depends on temperature. If the cold comes early it means the window for fruiting mushrooms is going to be short. If winter weather is late, you might be able to have chanterelle stuffing for your Thanksgiving turkey.

Matt Ironside: 206-464-2398 or Follow me on Twitter at @mjironside

FYI, we don't have Cantharellus cibarius here. Cantharellus formosus or Cantharellus cascadensis now. They are out, but not like the last...  Posted on October 8, 2011 at 11:16 PM by andrewm19. Jump to comment
Chanterelles are as abundant as ever in my neck of the woods, E of Duvall, I have at least 7 lbs in my refrigerator and can't give them away,...  Posted on October 7, 2011 at 5:32 PM by principledatheist. Jump to comment
There are lots of different kinds of mushrooms out there, especially on Islands like Vashon, if you get my drift. Once there has been a couple...  Posted on October 7, 2011 at 4:26 PM by girl power. Jump to comment

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