We are at the Glacier Ranger District in Girdwood, Alaska. Right now in Girdwood we’re standing in the northernmost rain forest on the planet. So, fungi need moisture obviously, and this is as north as it goes. I mean, farther north than this, it gets drier and colder, I think. So, this is its extent. I am an ecologist. I do mostly plant and vegetation. But every year for about a month, I get to do fungus related activities. And then every year we organize the Girdwood Fungus Fair. The Fungus Fair entails mushroom walks, or we call them forays, with experts.
And they take people out and show them what mushrooms are out, how to identify them. Folks are usually interested in what’s edible, so we tend to focus on that a little more. This is a hedgehog. So this is considered a choice edible. It’s not got that normal mushroom shape, but it’s got teeth instead of gills. And it’s got this pale, pink cap, you can spot easily in the green, forest floor. Up here there’s been a few individuals that have definitely made it known, that they’re not fans of educating people about mushrooms.
Probably in fear of people learning their mushroom spots, and things like that. I’ve gotten messages written in the mushrooms before. Like, Down with Mohatt, and No More Fungus Fairs. It’s not my goal and intent to show people where the choice mushroom picking spots are. And have them rape and pillage. I mean, that’s not the idea. You know, there’s people that have been hunting mushrooms, and mushroom hunters notoriously like to be secretive about their locations. I mean, I kind of get a little bit paranoid sometimes too. It’s just the way it goes, because once people find your mushroom patch,.
I Am A Mushroom Hunter INDIE ALASKA
It kind of ruins it. So the more people that know about mushrooms, the more potential there is for your mushroom spots to get cleaned out earlier. But Alaska is a big state. There’s so many different places you can go. That there’s plenty for everyone. This is Bolitus Mirabilis, the admirable bolete. It’s a beautiful mushroom. That winecolored cap and stem, and then the yellow gills underneath. It’s pretty unmistakeable. You can’t screw this one up. Most mushrooms are probably edible, but you go out into the woods, and start looking at mushrooms, and you see most of them are yay big,.
Or they’re slimy, nasty looking things that you wouldn’t think to eat anyway. And so I’d say a majority of mushrooms would probably be, you know, in that category of you can eat them, and you won’t get sick, but you won’t like it either. And then a small percentage would be deadly poisonous. Probably cause some gastrointestinal upset. And this one is poisonous. And then just a very small percentage are choice edibles. And people like to say, which ones are the choicest It’s like asking somebody, what’s your favorite vegetable.
Or what’s the best vegetable out there You know what I mean It depends on who you talk to. One of our most deadly poisonous mushrooms in Alaska is a little brown mushroom that looks really similar to this. People I think are a little bit more nervous and scared of poisonous mushrooms than they should be. I often see parents tell their children, Don’t touch that mushroom. You might get sick. And that’s not going to happen. You can taste even the most deadly poisonous mushroom, as long as you don’t ingest it.
But simply handling even the most deadly poisonous mushroom, and then, say, eating a sandwich afterwards, you’re not going to end up digesting or any of that. But plants on the other hand, Alaska has some deadly, deadly poisonous plants. That if you tasted them even, you could die. I know of actually more deadly poisonous plants in this state, than I do deadly poisonous mushrooms. When it comes to mushroom poisoning, there’s a lot of different things that can make you sick. And doctors really need to know what you ate,.
In order to treat you properly. So it’s really important, if you’re eating mushrooms for the first time, to save a representative specimen in case you get sick. It’s really going to help people know how to treat you. It’s a lot of work to identify mushrooms, especially the little ones that aren’t that interesting or appealing for people interested in eating them. What gets me so excited every year is you just never know what you’re going to find and when. It’s just always different. I get really bored picking berries and things. I just find that really tedious.