Last summer was an unusually wet one for the our little group of vacation rental cabins in the New River Gorge.
I can remember when Paul Shaw (an Opossum Creek Retreat family member) and I spotted the giant gilled mushroom growing from the side of the tree in front of the Over the Hill cabin. That seems to have been the beginning of the “Year of the Shroom”.
I don’t recall ever seeing so many different varieties of mushrooms in the woods as we did last year. Almost every turn revealed a new (to me) fungus on the forest floor. Some were really tiny and some were huge. There were shapes and colors I never imagined from translucent orange and creams to electric, lime green. And I’m a guy that’s spent tons of time in the forest. It was an amazing adventure every time you stepped into the woods. Every chance I got I was grabbing my camera and heading in to see what new ones I could find.
Paul and I took hundreds of pictures and researched almost every one. Names like Dead Man’s Finger, Wood Ear, Old Man of the Woods and so many more lured me into the fascinating world of fungi.
Just what I needed, another outdoor obsession.
My wife Tammi was amazed by the unusual shapes and colors she even bought me a mushroom book for my birthday. It’s called Mushrooms of West Virginia and the Central Appalachians by William C. Roody. A great reference for the shroom enthusiast.
So, what the heck is a mushroom, anyway?
William Roody defines a mushroom as a fruiting body of a fungus. Most mushrooms are temporary creatures that appear sporadically, depending on environmental conditions. I always thought that most all mushrooms were poisonous and could kill you. After doing some reading and researching I find that there are a lot that are ok to eat. Some are even great to eat.
The most common edible wild mushroom is the insanely delicious Morrell. The Morrell is a local favorite (if you can find them before the turkeys get to ‘em, or someone else). Some locals call the Common Morel “Molly Moocher” or Sponge Mushroom. No matter what you call it, it fares well on the table for sure.
The mushrooms you can find in the gorge area and here around your cabin are plentiful and a lot of fun to look for and look at. Get out there and look around, you’ll be surprised and what you might find. One thing I really like about shrooms, and that you will too, is that they are a lot easier to photograph than birds. To see some of the photos you can visit our Facebook fan page and check out the OCR Fungus Album.