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The Mushroom Season.

Spring,Summer or Fall?  And, don't forget Winter!
When to look for mushrooms.
It is difficult to be precise about this.It is well known and understood that periods of dry or very cold weather does not promote the growth of mushrooms. The very best conditions are when the humidity is "right" coupled with relatively warm temperatures.
It is very difficult to be more precise because it will vary greatly depending on your own geographic zone.
However as a "blanket" statement it would be true to say that the largest number of mushrooms will be found in late Summer and Fall. Having said that, there are always exceptions to the rule.
In the Spring, the sun heats up the cold wet ground.If these temperatures are optimal it is sometimes possible to find species that normally fruit in the Fall fruiting in the Spring,alongside the usual complement of Spring mushrooms.
If we experience a very dry Summer you will very likely encounter a greater proportion of saprophytic mushrooms than any other type of mushroom. Especially saprophytes that take their norishment from wood. This is because wood will hold it's moisture better than the ground or other substrates. Temperature is also very important but it is the temperature of the ground rather than the air temperature that is more crucial to the development of mushrooms. There are species that prefer open sunny places and there are some that tend to shy away from the sun's heat. The Fall is,in a normal year, the very best time to find the biggest variety of mushrooms and also the largest quantities. However the failure of rain in late Summer can lead to a disastrous Fall mushroom season. Over the last twelve years I have watched our  weather patterns as they relate to the mushroom The King Bolete,Boletus edulis. In two, of the last four years, the "king" has failed to fruit in any quantity, almost to the point of total failure. The "king"  has a relatively short fruiting season emerging in late September and usually the first two weeks of October. It is when the rains fail in late Summer that the "king" has failed to appear.
So, we are at the mercy of the elements.
As we all now know the planet is under stress with climate change becoming an ever increasing subject of concern. I believe that I am seeing this change albeit in a small way.
 

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King Bolete,Boletus edulis.

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Baskets full of Boletus edulis from September 30th 2002.

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Red Belted Polypore,Fomitopsis pinicola in Winter.

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A dead Poplar with Fomitopsis pinicola at it's base and the "penthouse" occupid by some unseen bird.

You can find mushrooms all the year round even in Winter. Shown above at right is an immature Red Belted Polypore,Fomitopsis pinicola. This polypore is one of our most common polypores. It has more than 100 host trees and normally fruits on dead trees and stumps but can occasionally be found on living trees.I found it growing on a dead Poplar tree that has also served as a home for a bird(photo at left).
It is comforting and in a way reassuring that even though the Poplar tree is dead Nature is at work starting the decomposition process through Fomitopsis pinicola and also providing a home for an, as yet,unseen bird.

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Shown below is a sight that you do not see very often.In both photographs are the Orange Mock Oyster,Phyllotopsis nidulans. There is nothing unusual about the photograph taken in October 2007. The mushroom is going about it's business doing what it does best in starting the decaying process of a fallen birch tree.
What is unusual about the second photograph is that P.nidulans is a Fall mushroom and it is not supposed to overwinter! The photograph was taken on 16th March 2008, with quite a covering of snow. The explanation is that before P.nidulans could decay (itself) we had a cold snap and it never warmed up enough for it to decay. When the Spring of 2008 arrived it warmed up enough for P.nidulans to decay and it dissapeared ,only for it to return again in the Fall of 2008. So if you venture in to the woods in the Winter you never know what you may find.

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Orange Mock Oyster,Phyllotopsis nidulans.Photographed 10th October 2007.

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Orange Mock Oyster,Phyllotopsis nidulans. Photographed 16 March 2008.

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