Mushroom experts and enthusiasts are called "mycologists." The North American Mycological Association (namyco.org) is located in Clarksville, Maryland, and is dedicated to promoting and supporting amateur mushroom gathering around the United States. Mushroom hunters seek out edible fungi for their own dinner tables or to sell. Other hunters seek the mushrooms for photographs only. Maryland national forests and other wooded areas provide excellent mushroom hunting.
The wood blewit is an edible mushroom that grows on leaf litter in Maryland forests. The cap is a shiny purple-brown with a dark violet base. These mushrooms are sometimes found growing in compost heaps. The best hunting time is late summer beginning in September. The wood blewit is easily mistaken for poisonous varieties of mushrooms, and therefore extreme caution should be exercised when hunting wood blewits.
The morel is a hollow mushroom with a honeycomb cap which is usually dark golden brown to dark brown with a white stem. Morels spring up from the forest floor following a rain and can be occasionally found on hillsides in Maryland, but they are difficult to find. They grow in national parks, such as Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont, Maryland, but picking is limited to an amount for personal consumption.
Mushroom hunters in Maryland occasionally find enough morels to sell, and some also cultivate the shiitake mushroom for sale to the public. Edible wild mushrooms, in addition to the morel and the wood blewit, include the dryads saddle and the honey mushroom. Be extremely careful when collecting mushrooms to eat or to sell as many safe species can be confused with poisonous fungi.
Become a Mushroom Hunter
Take time to learn as much as possible about mushrooms. Learn to identify the edible mushrooms from the unsafe fungi that grow in the same environment. Join a local mushroom hunter group or become a member of the North American Mycological Association (namyco.org). The Association provides learning materials that you can rent, and in some cases are free. Upon request, it also offers information about college courses in areas across North America.
- United States Department of the Interior National Parks Service: First Survey of Mushroom Diversity in Four Maryland National Parks
- University of Maryland Extension; Forest Stewardship Education; Shiitake Mushrooms Production and Marketing; Damon R. Newsbury et al.
- The North American Mycological Association
- United States Department of the Interior National Park Service; Catoctin Mountain Park; Mushrooms and Other Fungi
- John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images