Mushrooms

Matsutake

Matsutake/MushroomAmerican 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.

Ecology

Matsutakes are mycorrhizal fungi that form a partnership with the roots of some tree species. This symbiotic relationship benefits both partners. 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 high valued fresh mushrooms, of which 90 percent are exported to international markets primarily in Japan.

Collection on the Rogue River – Siskiyou

On the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest 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 the fungus’ mycelium.

The mushrooms of a fungus are the fruiting part of the organism and the vast majority of the living organism is below the leaf litter in the duff layer and soil. The consumption of a fungus’ mushrooms, when done without damaging the below ground fungal net of its mycelium, is like taking the fruit off of a tree; no damage is done to the tree and it will grow more fruit in the future. Disturbing the duff layer or soil is like braking off branches to get the fruit you want to pick; the branch will die and not produce any more fruit. Break enough branches and the tree may weaken enough that it will die or take a long time to recover before growing more fruit.

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.

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 /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. Refer to our Product Price List for current permit costs.

Other Mushrooms

Black MorelThere is a wide variety of other mushrooms that are found in the forests of the Pacific Northwest and are choice fare for the dinner table. Among these are morels, chanterelles, king bolete, Oregon truffles, horn of plenty, cauliflower mushroom, and chicken of the woods.

Ecology

Although most fungi have multiple capabilities, they are typically categorized into one of three niche classes; saprophytes, mycorrhizal, and pathogens. Pathogenic fungi are those that primarily feed on living tissues sometimes killing their host organism. Saprophytes are fungi that typically decay and feed on dead or dying material. Mycorrhizal fungi are those that usually have direct associations with living plant roots that are mutually beneficial. All fungi play an important role in creating variations over time in forest structure by introducing change over both small and vast areas through the introduction of mortality, by decaying and recycling dead material, and through direct relationships with plants that benefit their growth. The majority of edible mushrooms are primarily mycorrhizal or saprophytic.

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, which pass through their digestive systems unharmed. Insects, elk, deer, bear and smaller mammals are among the organisms that actively feed on the variety of mushrooms found in the Pacific Northwest.

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

Commercial use of wild mushroom species for the fresh edible mushrooms industry is common for some species while others may be harvested on smaller scales for local markets or personal consumption.

Collection on the Rogue River – Siskiyou

On the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest a permit must be obtained prior to removing Matsutake mushrooms as well as for other mushrooms above Incidental-Use amounts. Under a mushroom permit, only the fruiting body may be harvested with care being taken to not damage the fungus’ mycelium. 

The mushrooms of fungi are the fruiting part of the organisms and the vast majority of the living organism is below the leaf litter in the duff layer and soil. The consumption of a fungus’ mushrooms, when done without damaging the below ground fungal net of its mycelium, is like taking the fruit off of a tree; no damage is done to the tree and it will grow more fruit in the future. Disturbing the duff layer or soil is like braking off branches to get the fruit you’re picking; the branch will die and not produce any more fruit. Break enough branches and the tree may weaken enough that it will die or at least take a long time to recover before being able to fruit again. 

Carefully plucking or cutting mushrooms protects the mycelium net and maintains the mushrooms’ commercial value. Learning to spot the mounds that mushrooms make under the duff layer, carefully moving the soil away without the use of any tools, and covering any holes back with soil ensures the protection of the fungi’s below ground mycelium. This helps sustain a healthy mushroom population that will continue to produce in the future. Keeping your harvested mushrooms 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 associate 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.

Harvesting in open areas only and harvesting only with permitted techniques ensures that the harvest of mushrooms 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 /ecologically sensitive collection technique will support sustainable management and conservation of species harvested and help maintain a sustainable and respected harvesting tradition.

Mushroom 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. Refer to our Product Price List for current permit costs.

Species information on this page from:
Vance, et. al, 2001; SPECIAL FOREST PRODUCTS Species Information Guide for the Pacific Northwest; Pacific Northwest Research Station General Technical Report 513; USDA Forest Service