During a recent November afternoon outdoor excursion, I explored the backcountry in search of late autumn fungal activity. I spent the day tromping through leaves, picking up sticks, and admiring the first blooms of witch hazel.
A crust fungus here, an expired puffball there, and it was easy to understand why many a mushroom hunter’s sentiment this time of year is Slim Pickens.
Wait… I’m sorry. Not Slim Pickens. Wasn’t he the Western rodeo actor who rode the atom bomb in Dr. Strangelove? I could be wrong, but I don’t think he ever foraged a mushroom in his life.
What I meant to say was “slim pickings.”
Ah yes. This is the phrase I hear uttered more times than I found morels in 2016.
Back to my afternoon excursion. It then occurred to me that perhaps there was a modicum of truth behind these two words. Slim pickings. After all, November is cruel to the maitake mushroom, and autumn senescence is synonymous with crumbled chicken of the woods (not a tasty dish, by the way). And let’s not forget the ubiquitous Armillaria — those infamous honey mushrooms whose parasitic appetites are just about extinguished in time for Thanksgiving.
Sitting on a log and scratching my head, I thought to myself — “Adam, you’ve had one heck of a year, but don’t you think it’s time to hang up the mushroom basket?”
Turning my head down and to the left in contemplation, I soon discovered every reason to relegate “slim pickings” back to Slim Pickens.
Panellus serotinus. The late fall oyster mushroom.
Yes — miracles do exist. And wild edible mushrooms can be found in late November.
The late fall oyster mushroom, also known as the greenback mushroom, is an edible mushroom whose presence reassures the mushroom hunter that the fun isn’t over just yet. Far from it, actually.
With “oyster mushroom” in its name, many people might get the sense that Panellus serotinus is just another oyster variety hanging out in our forests.
It is, and it isn’t.
In this new video, I explain the differences in identification between the late fall oyster and the common oyster mushroom. Other look-alike fungi are discussed, along with medicinal benefits and preparation tips.
Are you interested in learning a thing or two about Panellus serotinus… savior of the late autumn mushroom hunt? Check out the video to learn more!