How to pick mushrooms correctly

John Uncategorized 6 Comments

Once upon a time, someone’s mushroom heart had been hurt.

They thought that they were harming fungi. By picking mushrooms from the ground, she thought it would damage the mycelial network and prevent any further fruitings down the line.

But she was sorely mistaken.

For those of you looking for the one sentence that you need from this article, it’s this one:


Okay, I apologize for the caps lock. If you want to read on and understand WHY you shouldn’t worry your little mushroom heart, well, here we go.

Britt A. Bunyard, the editor-in-chief of FungiMag, wrote the original article called “Agaricidal Tendencies” that substantiated the claim that it matters not how you harvest when you’re picking mushrooms from the ground.

Here’s a link to the original article.

We’ll go ahead and just summarize it for you.

Maurice Rotheroe is one of the original proponents of this claim that it doesn’t matter how you harvest. He said in British Wildlife,

The debate over collecting wild mushrooms for the pot (foraging) appears to have been hijacked by those who use anecdote and emotive language and ignore the scientific evidence. The odd person who goes along and collects these things is going to be hounded out as a vandal and a criminal. It’s ridiculous.”

It’s not a bad thing I suppose, that people are wary about how to ethically and sustainably harvest.

It’s probably a good thing.

Britt then begins to illuminate the slim amount of research that suggests how harvesting technique makes little to no difference in the health of the mycelial network.

The longest running study in North America in terms of observing the impact of mushroom harvesting has been the Cantharellus project by the Oregon Mycological Society.

Beginning in 1986, 10 plots were surveyed.

The chanterelle mushrooms growing at the Mount Hood National Forest were ALL harvested, the positioning recorded, and all specimens were vouchered for future research.

Some of the plots were harvested using knives to cut at the base, and other plots were harvested by uprooting them from the ground.

“Turns out that in the cut plots, yields have decreased (but only very slightly) over time. And, more surprising to the group, in plots harvested by simply pulling out the mushrooms, yields have actually gone up during the 25 years of this study.”Britt A. Bunyard

Dr. Britt goes on to describe how even using a knife to cut and harvest a mushroom may actually do more harm because of the exposed stipe remains becoming more vulnerable to bacteria and infection (but not by much).

Secondarily, something referred to as the Swiss Study, did the same thing for 30 years. It concluded that it makes no difference in annual yields by picking or cutting from mushroom plots.

As the article concludes how we can better dispel the myth of unsustainable mushroom harvesting, the reader can rest easy knowing that their favored mushroom spots will hardly be affected by their mushroom picking/cutting activity.

We can all rest (our mushrooms hearts) easy.

Did you find this article useful and enlightening? Feel free to share and leave a comment below!

Comments 6

  1. So, the message that this conveys is that it’s actually preferable to pull up the morel including the mycelium??? hmmmmm………………………..

    1. Post

      Perhaps not preferable, but nonetheless, safe for the mycelium.

      Mushrooms are simply resilient.

      I still like to cut/snip only because it’s cleaner.

      Thanks for reading and happy hunting!

  2. Pingback: Guide to Edible Mushroom Foraging in BC | Homesteading Huntress

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