Newsletter June 2019
“Tracing the Naturalization of Golden Oysters in the U.S.”
A BIT OF BACKGROUND
On the 2012 Galena, Illinois morel foray, they first appeared, the golden oyster mushroom (Pleurotus citrinopileatus). I knew what they were but thought to myself “they shouldn’t be here because they are only commercially grown”. Pics below:
Since then, I have seen a steady growth in quantities of these delicious mushrooms at the same location. Recently, we harvested over 100 pounds there during the foray! They are so colorful, and yet so delicious! Recent foray pics below:
About 20 years ago, it was near impossible to find them on the American market. It’s native to subtropical hardwood forests of eastern Russia, northern China, and Japan, and has long been a popular culinary mushroom for cultivation across Asia. Its sunny yellow caps make this species a show-stopper at farmers markets, and its popularity State-side has steadily risen over the years among specialty mushroom growers.
Today, it’s reasonably common to find golden oysters at American farmers markets during the summer, as it requires temps consistently above 60º F to fruit. In Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms, Stamets writes: “With the onset of commercial cultivation of these mushrooms adjacent to woodlands in North America, it will be interesting to see if these exotic varieties escape.” I’d guess Stamets was spot on, but this is among the details regarding the mushrooms’ spread that my research seeks to confirm. The first sightings of wild golden oysters in the US seemed to have occurred just about 6 or 7 years ago, following the rise in American cultivation of the species. I have collected reports of sightings in Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
ARE GOLDEN OYSTERS INVASIVE?
The term “invasive” can be defined in many ways. Ecologist Dr. Elena Litchman defines invasive microorganisms as those which proliferate in a new range and impact local communities or ecosystems. This description leaves little doubt that golden oysters indeed fall under the category of invasive. We would be rather negligent to assume that the rapid spread of any non-native species would be inconsequential to native ecosystems. The golden oysters’ swift spread suggests that the native decomposers are being outcompeted and displaced. Climate change and habitat loss already pose major threats to fungal biodiversity, so it’s critical that we understand the role non-native fungi play in deepening those threats. Fungi provide vital ecosystem services as a part of diverse microbial communities, and ecological studies have shown that losses to biodiversity, or reductions in species richness, have negative effects on ecosystem function.
Although outdoor cultivation is common practice, this is the first ever case of escape with rapid and significant spread of a cultivated mushroom. I’m using genomic data (the entire DNA sequence of every specimen, rather than targeting specific gene regions) to analyze the ancestral lineages of our samples, allowing us to get a better understanding of the mechanisms behind their spread. This sort of information will help us understand how humans have influenced the spread of golden oysters, and may provide a starting block for the development of mitigation procedures.
They have also appeared during my fall forays in Galena and also continue to grow in frequency. Last yr’s fall pic below:
They are super easy to grow and I always bring home a big batch of the butt-ends of them from Galena and have had very good luck and so much fun growing them and watching them mature. My most recent fruiting pic below:
They dry and freeze extremely well. Way better than regular wild oysters. I use them in so many dishes, I could write a cookbook just using them! In any event, I welcome this species to the wilds of the US and and am always on the lookout for that bright golden yellow color in both spring and fall and hope they will continue to spread in coverage! (I am guilty of planting a few on dead wood in any new areas so we will see what happens)! Below is a current map of their range:
Finally, below is a gallery of finds so far this spring… Enjoy!
Email Chris for questions, comments or additional submissions and info: firstname.lastname@example.org
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“Have you ever had a MOREL DREAM?”
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“Top 6 Poisonous Mushrooms, (3-Deadly, 3-Vomiting and Diarrhea)”
“Top 15 Fall Mushrooms”
– The monthly newsletters are a small part of the membership benefits. June of 2019 is a free newsletter to show an example of what one looks like. I hope you have enjoyed it! You can join for a full year for just $20! Here are a few of the member-only benefits:
So you have been coming to this website for a while now, or maybe for the first time, and used the “Current Mushrooms Finds” page, or the “Recipe of The Month”, took a guess at the “Mushroom Photo Of the Month”, viewed the “Morel Progression Maps”, or took a look at the extensive 650+ “Species List” with photos and descriptions, or maybe you submitted a photo to Chris to get his help with the “Mushroom Identification” of your find. Maybe you left a message on the “Morel Message Board”. All of these things are free to the public, and what a job it is just to keep up with all of this. So what on Earth could there be beyond this in the “Member Areas” that would be a benefit to me?
The member areas contain so much data and info, that it would take you days to go through it all. There are hundreds of specific web pages on specific subjects, and many thousands of photos. Here is a list of many of the pages:
- Reports– The popular “Video Morel Report”, like the Weather Channel but for Morels!
- Newsletters– View all of the past newsletters with very interesting and informative subjects from the past, beginning in 1999! Subjects like Morel Growing Kits, Fall Morels, GPS and Mushrooming, Growing Mushrooms, Freezing, Drying and Canning Mushrooms, Festivals, Forays, DNA Studies, Growth Studies, and much more.
- Photos– Chris has been an avid photographer since childhood, and has 1000’s of photos posted (over 20,000 so far), High Quality Morel Photos for each year since 2000, breathtaking, eye dazzling shots of other beautiful mushrooms. There are many members also like Chris, with their photography, and they too have submitted Unbelievable photos of Morels. There are hundreds of member submitted Morel Photos, each year categorized separately from each year.
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- Places To Hunt– Yes, we even have specific locations of where Morels have been reported to be found, and where Chris has personally found them. There is a separate listing for all 50 states with detailed info.
- Morel Species– View all of the photos and details of each Morel species.
- Video– There are full-length videos of all forays! Each up to 80 minutes long! The full length Travel Channel episode on Morels, The full length History Channel episode- Modern Marvels of Mold and Fungus. Many other videos as well. Hours of video content!
- Foreign Morels– We have photos and info on separate web pages for these Countries: Switzerland, Italy, Great Britain, Japan, Mexico, and many more.
- Fire Burn Morel Info– Yukon, BC, and Alaska, as well as Washington and Oregon and other out- West locations. Even a link to forest fire data info, so you can find last year’s fire areas.
- Members can link to other Members– Names and email addresses to members, listed by each State. Make new mushroom hunting friends and contacts.
- Facebook Group– so all members can communicate with each other and plan your own new get-togethers.
- Chat Room– During Morel season, Chris is in the Chat room nightly, and there has been as many as 75 members from across the country chatting about mushrooms at the same time!
- Text Chris for Identification Help!
- There are also other web pages such as: Tiny Morel Bug Info, Morels from Hungary, Mushroom Video Links on the net, Myth Busters, Mushroom Festival Info, Growth Studies- See A young Gray Morel turn into a large Yellow Morel in 2-3 weeks!, Wildflowers, Go Mushroom Hunting Online, Mushroom Stories, Mushroom Humor, Kids and Mushrooms, and the most extensive Mushroom Links page available.
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