DENVER (KDVR) — Mushroom hunting season came early in Colorado thanks to a good snow year and spring moisture.
You might see mushrooms start to pop up in plain sight — in the park, walking the dog, on a hike or even in your garden.
The mushroom season is typically short in Colorado, thriving from the end of June to the middle of August, according to mycologist and president of Colorado Mycological Society Jon Sommer.
However, this year the experts are starting early. Jennifer Bell, president of the Pikes Peak Mycological Society, said she is already scouting for upcoming club forays. She’s looking for oyster mushrooms and morels.
“When we get snow in the winter, that moisture doesn’t just appear and then go away, that builds a base for what’s to come in the summer,” she said. “It’s looking good now, so all you need is a couple days of heat.”
Mushroom hunting is one more reason to get outside. Though mycology is the scientific study of fungi, Bell said it is fun for anyone, especially kids. They are driven by the thrill of the hunt and are oftentimes better at finding mushrooms than the adults because they are closer to the ground and focused.
“If you take your kid out for a foray or a walk in the woods or whatever, you’re both facing forward and you’re both in an environment that’s not stressing you out,” Bell said. “Those are the closest times you can spend with your kid because your awareness is outside of you, not in opposition to each other.”
Bell said 95% of mushrooms in the modern world are unnamed and people without any background education in the subject are making advances in mycology. She said there is still so much to discover about mushrooms.
“It’s mysterious and that’s one of the reasons why this is so exciting,” she said. “It’s a good place to be if you can handle the unknown.”
There are three kinds of life on earth: flora, fauna and funga. Bell said the world of funga is still unknown because people have been scared of it.
“Even though it is everywhere, it is nowhere in our lure,” Bell said.
Bell and Sommers both said that the best way to get involved is to join a local club, where you can get guidance on finding mushrooms and identifying them, as well as learning which are edible and finding answers to any question from experts.
The Pikes Peak Mycological Society and the Colorado Mycology Society are working together on a book, expected to come out next year, with photos and information about the mushrooms of Colorado.
The groups meet monthly, bringing their fungi finds with them for identification education. They also go on field trips, foraging for mushrooms and fungi with experts there to answer questions.