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Foraging 101

When headed out on a mushroom foraging journey it’s important to bring along just a couple basic tools:

  1. Bug Spray I like to wear long pants most of the time to deter bugs but spray is important either way. I’ve already encountered a horrendous number of ticks this season and snakes so be safe out there!

  2. Knife An important part of thoroughly identifying fungi is to slice cross sections to determine bruising colors, interior consistencies, textures etc. Plus a knife is a great tool for collecting a specimen from the stipe without disturbing the mycelial network beneath.

  3. Basket or Paper Bags You’ll find most foragers in the mushroom community use baskets for collecting their specimens. Baskets are a great way to let your mushrooms breathe and even continue to drop their spores as you walk through the forest. But, if you’re like me (carrying a heavy camera, recording equipment, and field guides in a backpack) brown paper bags may work best. I recently bought a 50 pack of paper lunch bags for $2 at a grocery store and they've worked really well for keeping my mushrooms aerated, divided by species, and contained.

  4. Camera or Journal An important part of learning your fungi is being able to record characteristics. A camera (even a phone camera) works great for documenting ecology, size, color, texture, fruiting surface, mycelium color, etc. Interested in unplugging for your forage? A small journal and pen to handwrite information is all you need.

  5. Field Guide This last item isn’t always necessary as you could choose to consult your field guides after your walk, but its extremely helpful for those just beginning their journey into mushroom identification. It's best to purchase a field guide that is specific to the area you're foraging. Two field guides I use frequently and highly recommend are: Walter E. Sturgeon’s Appalachian Mushrooms: a Field Guide David Arora’s All that the Rain Promises and More...

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