Mushrooms consist of two parts: the fruiting body (seen above ground) and a web-like root structure called the mycelium (located below ground). The mycelium decomposes organic matter – an important forest process – which the organism digests as food. Many mushrooms are edible, harmless and delicious; many others are poisonous. It is critically important to know the difference; one bite of some poisonous mushrooms can be fatal.
Most mushrooms should be cut off at ground level. Some, like the matsutake (Armillaria ponderosa), are pulled out of the ground. Pick with a knowledgeable partner. Consult agency guidelines to ensure that you don’t overpick an area. Use containers of materials such as waxed paper or paper bags that keep mushrooms aerated. Keep different types separated.
Springtime is best for morels (Morchella spp.) and oyster mushrooms (Pluerotus ostreatus). Fall is the time for chanterelles (Cantharellus sp.), king bolete (Boletus edulis), matsutake, and puffballs (Calvatia spp.).
The Umpqua National Forest, in conjunction with the Deschutes, Willamette, Winema and Fremont National Forests, have entered into a five-forest agreement on all commercial mushroom sales and free-use mushrooms. Free use permits issued on one forest allows picking on all five forests for all species except matsutake mushrooms. The Umpqua National Forest has free use matsutake mushroom permits, which allows each harvester up to 15 matsutake mushrooms per day.
All species of free-use mushrooms must be cut in half lengthwise at time of harvest. Pickers must obtain maps for those areas where they plan to harvest. Maps can be obtained at any of the forests mentioned. Commercial picking is prohibited in wilderness areas, campgrounds, housing areas, special permittee areas, such as Diamond Lake and Lemolo Lake lodge areas, Pacific Power facilities, and other developed areas.
The cost for a commercial “matsutake” permit is $50 for five days, $100 for a half season permit (30 days), or $200 for a seasonal permit. Unlimited quantity.
The cost for a commercial “all mushroom species, except matsutake” permit is $20 for ten days or $100 for an annual permit. Unlimited quantity.