Mushrooms, Including Matsutakes

Be a Good Steward!

RRSNF District Offices remain responsible for protecting sensitive areas and habitat. Please contact your local District Office to receive a commercial mushroom collecting permit and/or if you have questions.

Matsutakes: What Do You Need to Know?

  • Matsutakes: Know Before You Go


    American Matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare) is a preferred edible mushroom that is firm and fibrous with a spicy aromatic scent. American Matsutake is native throughout a wide range of North America and is most abundant in Washington, Oregon, and Northern California.


    Matsutakes are mycorrhizal fungi that form a partnership with the roots of some tree species, benefitting both the tree and the fungus. The fungi receive food from the tree’s roots in the forms of carbohydrates and other sugars and the tree receives water and nutrients from the mycorrhizae of the fungi. This association with these trees has at times earned American Matsutake the name of pine mushroom and tanoak mushroom.

    Many mushrooms are known to contain concentrations of minerals and nutrients that are beneficial to a variety of organisms. From worms to mammals, organisms are known to feed on a variety of fungi and some of the more mobile animals may be important dispersal agents of the fungi’s spores that pass through their digestive systems unharmed. Elk, deer, bear and smaller mammals are thought to actively seek out Matsutake mushrooms.

    Matsutake mushrooms have been traditionally harvested across their range for food and flavoring.

    Commercial use of American Matsutake is for highly-valued fresh mushrooms, of which 90% are exported to international markets, primarily in Japan. Responsible Matsutake


    • A permit must be obtained prior to removing any amount of American Matsutake mushrooms. Only the fruiting body may be harvested, with care being taken to not damage fungi mycelium.
    • Carefully plucking matsutakes protects the mycelium net and maintains the mushrooms’ commercial value. Learning to spot the mounds that Matsutakes make under the duff layer, carefully moving the soil away without the use of tools, and covering any holes back with soil ensures the protection of the fungi’s below ground body. This helps sustain a healthy Matsutake population that will continue to produce in the future. Keeping your harvested matsutakes in a basket or container with small openings helps to spread the seed spores around as you are picking, aiding the chance for successful reproduction and expansion of local populations.
    • Whenever transporting mushrooms it is important to remember that moving forest organisms can spread insects and diseases that kill trees, plants, and other forest organisms. Don’t become an unsuspecting partner in destroying your neighborhood trees or forests.
    • Two important diseases that are affecting our local forests in a significant way are Sudden Oak Death (SOD) and Port-Orford-cedar root disease. Become familiar with these disease and the steps you can take to reduce the risk of spreading them through your collection and transport of mushrooms.
    • As a general rule it is always important to keep a few points in mind. Be aware of any quarantine areas (such as the SOD quarantine area in Curry County) that by law restrict the movement of materials. Properly checking mushrooms for disease and insects before harvesting and removing all soil from picked mushrooms reduces the risk of transporting and fostering unwanted pests and ensures a better product for you. Learn more information about Sudden Oak Death here!

    Harvesting in areas open to mushroom harvest only and harvesting only with permitted techniques ensures that the harvest of Matsutakes on the Forest is done in a sustainable manner that strikes a balance with competing needs for forest resources. Keeping an eye out for wildlife use and leaving older or damaged mushrooms helps support a respected balance in our use of mushrooms.

    Following low-impact and ecologically sensitive collection techniques will support sustainable management and conservation of species harvested and help maintain a sustainable and respected harvesting tradition.

    Matsutake permits are typically available on all the Forest’s Offices. Please call the District Office where you are interested in obtaining your permit to check for current availability before you head out.


Frequently Asked Questions

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What do I need to know before I go?

Where can I get a mushroom permit?

How do I know what I’m finding is edible?

How can I responsibly collect mushrooms?

What should I know before I go?