Not Coming Home Empty Handed: Varnished Conk, Frèmont’s Silktassel, Manzanita, and Edible Mushrooms

November 15, 2011 · 5 comments

Henry goes elk hunting a few days every year, and though he hasn’t yet shot an elk, he always brings home collections of mushrooms, seeds, and other flora of interest. For him, elk hunting is just a good excuse to hike around new territory, exploring sites and foraging. He does bring a gun along, but he’s never disappointed if he doesn’t make a kill because the day wasn’t wasted.

Here’s a pretty nice varnished conk (Ganoderma oregonense) that Henry found growing on a spruce tree near Yachats in the Oregon Coast.

Levi wants to use it for a pirate hat. Honestly, I’m not entirely what we’re going to do with it beyond admiring it for being huge.

This was Henry’s most exciting find, Frèmont’s silktassel (Garrya fremontii). This plant grows in the Cascades, Siskiyou Mountains, and California’s Sierra Nevada. It has never before been documented in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, but Henry found it thriving in Polk County.

Frèmont’s silktassel is an ornamental shrub with attractive male catkins. It blooms as early as January.

Henry only had a chance to harvest about 150 seeds, which he’ll pass on to Seven Oaks Native Nursery. The guys at Seven Oaks will grow out the seeds and hopefully have plants available from this seed source in the future.

To clean the seed, he’ll crush the berries, submerse everything in water, and then pour off the floating skins and empty seed.

Manzanita (Arctostaphylos columbianus) is common in central and southern Oregon, but it’s uncommon around here. Henry found a massive population alongside the Frèmont’s silktassel in Polk County, Oregon.

This seed will also go to Seven Oaks Native Nursery.

The origins of the name “manzanita” are apparent here. In Spanish, “manzanita” means “little apple,” and these little berries look like little apples to me.

Mushrooms! Hedgehog (Dentinum repandum, white), pig’s ear (Gomphus clavatus, brown/purple), and lots of chanterelles (Canthrellus cibarius, orangy) will make a delicious meal, and they’re a lot easier to process than an entire elk carcass.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

mae November 15, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Wow, I’m so jealous! Chanterelles are delicious, but SO expensive out here. I remember having them with fresh caught salmon once when I still lived in Seattle and it was heavenly. Please share some photos of what you end up cooking with them.


Camille November 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm

They’re pretty expensive here, too. We’d probably never eat them if we had to pay.

I will share photos if we actually get to cooking them during daylight hours, which is unlikely at this time of year. sorry.


Arlie November 15, 2011 at 2:47 pm

wow – that mushroom is amazing!


Kathy F November 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm

So glad that the seeds will go to the nursery for propagation! Enjoy the shrooms and let us know what you end you doing with the beautiful conk.


Donia December 18, 2018 at 11:52 am

Wow! I am amazed! :)


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