|One of my best hen-of-the-woods trees, downed in hurricane Sandy|
Most likely the mushrooms will continue to fruit
There has been a lot of talk on Northeast foraging boards about the damage and aftermath of hurricane Sandy, and it's effect on the 2013 mushrooming season.
In this region, 2012 was generally regarded a boom year for the "chicken mushroom" or "sulfur shelf" (Laetiporus sulphureus & cincinnatus); and this may be in large part due to damage from Irene in 2011. Laetiporus species can be either parasites or saprobes (decomposers) on trees and logs. They generally can't get enough of a foothold to fruit on living trees, unless the trees are weakened through other environmental factors, such as insect or human damage; but even if not fruiting, the mycelium (the actual organism that makes the mushrooms) can be present, and just waiting for the right time. . . like if a hurricane knocks the tree over.
|Though this tree is very decomposed, chicken mushrooms can be found on trees that have just fallen, |
and even on living, weakened trees. The year after a hurricane is likely to be very productive.
|Oyster mushrooms, like these, generally don't appear till the |
tree has been dead for some several years.
So now with trees down from two hurricanes, 2013 should be an amazing year for the chicken mushroom. And as those trees begin to decay over the next few years, even more decomposing mushrooms should be able to move in. It may take 5 years or more, but we should see a rise in oysters (Pleurotus species), pear-shaped puffballs (Lycoperdon pyriforme), dryad's saddle (Polyporus squamosus) & more.
Parasitic mushrooms may or may not
On a related note, all my best Hen trees came down in Sandy. This is probably due in part to the parasite causing rot in the "butt" (base) of the tree. With a weakened core, the oaks weren't able to withstand the force of the winds, and split at their base. (See the above photo).
|Honey mushrooms go right on living,|
well after the death of their hosts.
That said, the majority of gourmet mushrooms neither parasites nor decomposers. Morels, Boletes (including the King Bolete, or Porcini) and Chanterelles are all mycorrhizal, meaning they living in symbiosis with trees. With the death of the tree, the mycelium may die and immediately cease fruiting, unless it has symbiosis with multiple partners. (It's 2013, we don't judge). Even if the fungus survives, loosing one key tree may be traumatic enough to prevent it from producing mushrooms for a year or two.
So that's my take on the next couple of years for mushrooming in the Northeast--barring any further natural disasters, of course. I would love to hear what you think the future holds for foraging mushrooms.