Newsletter #2 from Canada - August 2012

By Ann Harmer, Garden Bay, BC. Canada

Here on Canada's West Coast, where we're surrounded by rainforest, we can count on an abundance of mushrooms each year. That proved to be the case for Phaeolus schweinitzii, which I found in such numbers that I eventually ran out of dyepots and time to deal with all of them. Early in the season, I found a large cluster of young Phaeolus and cut off the outer edges to see if, as I'd read somewhere, they would grow back.

I went back to the same tree three weeks later and was delighted to find regrowth, although it was less substantial than the original. Sadly, three of my favourite patches of Hypomyces lactifluorum were lost to logging in the previous year. But this past year was not a good year for the 'lobsters" anywhere in this area. Most of those I did find were stunted, their surfaces cracked. I suspect that was a result of the long, cold spring (no real sunshine to speak of until mid-July), followed by seven weeks of hot,dry conditions.

Nor was it a particularly good year for the dermocybes, although I did discover a large area of C. sanguineus, which I considered a real bonus.

The highlight of the year for me was the discovery of a small group of Sarcodon fusco-indicus, which yielded the elusive blue on a sample mordanted with alum, green-blue with iron, and green with copper—without any shifting of PH. I hope my “internal GPS ” will lead me to the same area next year.

Some members of our new mushroom club, The Society for the Hunting,Recognition and Observation of Mushrooms (SHROOM), are expressing interest in learning about dye mushrooms, so I hope my next report will include observations from other people as well. Images and more detailed comments can be found on my blog:

Looking forward to seeing everyone in Spain in October, Ann Harmer ,Garden Bay, BC. Canada


Newsletter #1 - August, 2011

Letter from Ann Harmer, Garden Bay, British Columbia, CANADA

I returned home from Sweden at the height of our mushroom season on British Columbia's West Coast and found myself with a plethora of Phaeolus schweinitzii. With more mushrooms on hand than I had dyepots or time for, I put several of these Dyer's Polypore outside in a bucket of water, along with a white silk blouse, which I'd mordanted with alum.I left it undisturbed, hoping for a mottled effect. Two months later, I removed the blouse and found it evenly dyed for the most part, in a rich, deep gold. At no time was the water even warm, and in fact it froze several times when the overnight temperatures dipped below freezing.
Dorothy Beebee sent me several names of other mushroom dyers in Canada, one from Ontario (whose email bounced back - I met her at the symposium in Mendocino) and the rest from British Columbia. I hope to establish an email group before the next dyeing season so that we can compare notes.