Mushroom hunting consists of observing site
characteristics that lead to
mushrooms. Nature has provided many clues for
the good observer.
There are a variety of other mushrooms that spring up
before, after, and during matsutake fruiting. These
mushrooms are generally called indicators. They indicate
something about matsutake: It's too early, too late, or
there is a good chance that matsutake is fruiting.
Many other fall mushrooms are formed and triggered by
temperature changes. There is little or no information
about other mushroom species needs.
Yellow and White Chanterelle are almost always before
matsutake. Occasionally they may start together. The
reason being, trigger temperature. Just as a low
temperature can trigger a large area of matsutake, the
trigger temperature of one or many varieties of mushrooms
may be reached.
A variety of Red Rusulla marks the end of the
season. Only a minimum of fresh fruiting will occur in
that area. A much lower elevation, sunnier situation or
aspect may be well before peak. Yellow corral is most commonly found near matsutake. The
trigger for yellow coral is just a little above
matsutake. Formation requirements are likely different.
There can be corral and no matsutake, matsutake and
no corral. Commercial harvesters use yellow corral more
than any other mushroom fungi to
guide them to matsutake. If you find this coral and
no matsutake, look to the darker side of coral fruiting.
It's not only the type of mushrooms you see, age is also
an indicator. Note the age and type of any mushroom you
see. A good hunter looks for any clue that leads him to
It is impossible to say what type of
indicator you will find. Every area has its own fungus
system. Each year could be different. Examine the clues
nature provides you every year.
A variety of animals
harvest and eat matsutake. During the
process, there is a varying degree of disturbance to the
are the superior hunters of matsutake in the forest,
usually first to find fresh fruiting areas. They paw the
ground and kick the mushrooms out. Years of digging in
the same area leaves depressions in the ground.
Depressions indicate the exact location of reliable
fruiting . Watch for their trails. Trails that are well
traveled usually lead to or from fruiting areas.
Human signs can be seen everywhere. The human animal will
scratch, dig, or rake leaving easily seen signs. In most
cases these areas yield small amounts.
This section refers to shading trees create. In all
habitats areas are shaded or not shaded according to
nearby trees. These areas are known as edges. Timber cuts
are an example of an edge. The sun is able to shine into
the habitat a short distance. Edges that receive most sun
will fruit last. They are last to cool. Edges that are
shaded from afternoon sun, fruit first. If you find this
type of pattern, look for openings in the tree tops.
Openings in the canopy create edges. Roads can also
create edges. Often producing 1 to 6 feet inside a road
edge. Edge fruiting is the most reliable.
The Conifer habitat can be easy to hunt if vegetation
shading is properly evaluated. Trees such as
Shasta, and White fir create large areas of shade.
Fruiting will usually begin on
the northeast side, in the
area shaded between 1:00-3:00, especially on south
slopes. Changes in timber such as Lodgepole to Shasta
create an edge. Reliable fruiting can usually be found
just inside or outside of this edge, confining search
area to a strip 200-300 feet wide. Noting stands of
timber is important. Small stands surrounded by young
trees provide a variety of thermal situations. Fruiting
is likely to occur 100 feet inside or outside this edge.
Reading vegetation shading is a primary key in locating
Ridge tops create the best geographic thermal
edges. Reliable mushroom formation usually occurs
slightly to the cooler side of the top, somewhere along
the ridge. Similar situations are created by a pocket,
bowl or saddle.
A wide variety of vegetation can be found in matsutake
fruiting areas. There is no evidence of any influence
other than thermal.
Under story vegetation such as huckleberry and
rhododendron can create even shading. In most cases
shading inhibits soil warming, requiring extended
Many varieties of ground cover may also be found. Salal,
ferns, knic, and moss are a few. The same thermal
The forest floor is covered by a layer of organic matter
known as litter. Under this layer, where soil meets
litter, or 1 to 2 inches into soils, is where mushrooms
begin to grow. Liter layers retain moisture and provides
a humid environment for fruit growth. Areas with 1 to 3
inches of litter are most reliable. Litter also
insulates, limiting soil warming. Layers over 3 inches
seldom receive the warmth needed for formation.
In soils such as pumice, needles and soils mix together
forming this layer. Fruit formation is from 1 to 6 inches
from the surface.
As the mushroom grows, it pushes up the soil
and litter cover, creating raised
areas or bumps. Bumps usually indicate an older
mushroom. Study each foot of ground around the bump. Get
down on hands and knees and feel the ground. Push down on
the litter with your hands. You will be able to feel
other mushrooms. Don't worry about missing some, you will
feel them before they are large enough to harvest. It's
better not to disturb the young ones. Return in a few
days for a second harvest.
Needle Cast Layer
Needle cast layers are generally tightly packed and
crusted leaving little room for mushroom expansion. Young
mushrooms can be detected by a slight rise, and a crack
in the layer. These cracks resemble dry weather cracks.
Poke your finger into the crack an feel for a mushroom
top. Mushrooms will feel cool and moist. Size can also be
determined in this manor. Cracks may contain 1 or run for
several feet and contain 60.