Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the August 17, 2007 Newsletter issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, QUERÉTARO, MÉXICO

The other day some of us scouted a potential hiking trail across a mountain ridge forested with oaks and pines above San Juan de Los Durán. A local lady joined us saying it was mushroom-picking time, but she was afraid to go alone because of snakes.

I figured she was looking for the red-topped Amanita "Caesar's Mushrooms" I told you about a couple of Newsletters ago. They're still out and can be picked by the bushel. However, it turned out that she knew only a few fungi, and kept saying she needed to talk to a certain old fellow in the village who knew them all, and that it was sad that so much knowledge such as his was slowly disappearing from the village.

To my astonishment the lady walked right past dozens of perfect "Caesar's Mushrooms." I wasn't about to tell her how delicious they are because I don't encourage people to eat mushrooms they don't know. If later she'd grown ill, it'd been because of my mushrooms.

She wanted Chanterelles. My very first Newsletter, issued on June 10th, 2001, spoke of Chanterelles and Caesar's Mushrooms appearing in the woods around my hermit camp in southwestern Mississippi. This week's mushroom hike evoked some good memories.

The lady was surprised to find so few Chanterelles in places where usually great numbers emerge at this season. Other mushroom kinds were out, however, so she switched to picking a coral fungus of the genus RAMARIA. You can see her day's piddling harvest, the much-branched ones being the Ramaria and the single orangish one in the center being a Chanterelle,below: