There’s Gold in Them There Hills
Mushrooms offer fun and financial opportunity

With midterms abundantly here, students who need a slight attitude adjustment, and want to take a deep breath, or would enjoy a journey to better mental health; may want to consider mushroom hunting.  The chance of stumbling upon the abundant Golden Chanterelle, a wild edible mushroom that can mean big profits, is relatively high.

Chanterelle buyers last week were giving up to $2.50 per pound however; prices vary depending on supply and demand.  Buyers are known to shut down when foreign markets are losing profits.

 Safety is a major issue for mushroom hunters.  Newspapers contain stories every year of mushroom pickers who have been lost.  Another major concern is miss identification. Possible side effects of eating a poisonous mushroom which has been improperly identified as safe can range from mild to intense nausea, diarrhea, headaches, sweating and even death.  Even some edible mushrooms, such as the Shaggy Mane, can cause a reaction for some when mixed with alcohol.  One should never eat a mushroom without positively identifying it first; when in doubt throw it out.


The chanterelle is relatively easy to identify because of its gills that resemble wrinkles, instead of true gills, that are attached and descend down the stalk.  It has a yellow or golden appearance quite unique from other mushrooms in the forest and grows in abundance, often in clusters. While there is some that look alike in color, none of them maintain all of the features mentioned above.  The chanterelle is like a snow flake, no two are exactly the same and the mature chanterelles are often referred to as flowers. .  There are many look a-likes in the forest; a spore print is the only way to positively identify a mushroom.

Steps are available to secure safety for the novice picker.  UCC offers a mushroom identification class during the fall term on Tuesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. for $89.  The class includes lectures and two field trips.  The required text, David Arora’s “All That the Rain Promises” is available at the UCC bookstore. 

Another handy pocket guide is the Audubon Society’s “Field Guide to North American Mushrooms” that comes with a vinyl cover that fits into most back pockets. 

 Talking with one of two local buyers is another way of assuring you’re not out in the woods picking something poisonous or worthless.  David McKenzie of Sutherlin has been buying and picking mushrooms for most of his life; his wife Rose, (a former UCC student) has written and published a book on the industry with the do’s and don’ts, photographs and a step by step guide that assures even the beginner can  pick a clean product and make a profit.  


As a former mushroom identification instructor for UCC’s Community Education program, Rose’s book “A Visual Guide for Harvesting Mushrooms” is highly recommended.  It can be ordered on line at

 “The biggest mistake a new mushroom picker makes is throwing that unknown species into their bucket with all those great chanterelles.” says McKenzie, “it only takes one bad mushroom to ruin the whole bucket.”

Another local mushroom buyer, Ron Eldridge in Winston, reminds the beginner that harvesting mushrooms commercially without a permit is illegal.  Eldridge states “As a mushroom buyer I’m not allowed to purchase any mushrooms from pickers without a permit and I can get in just as much trouble as they.”  Eldridge adds “When you purchase a permit it is wise to obtain maps of the harvest areas so you know where and what you are allowed to pick.” 

Maps also help pickers keep track of where they are to keep from getting lost and include road numbers, section numbers and major highways.

Permits for commercial harvesting can be purchased at the local BLM office on Garden Valley Boulevard or the Umpqua National Forest Service in Glide.  BLM permits are sold by the amount of pounds one plans to pick and vary from county to county. Pickers are advised to check with their local office to get the proper permit for the harvesting area.

Forest Service permits are $100 for a seasonal permit (from Jan.1 through Dec. 31) for every species except Matsutake. Ten day permits can be purchased for $20.  Matsutake permits are $200 per season, and their season runs from Sep. 1 through Oct. 31.  BLM allows up to one gallon of mushrooms per species for picking for personal use.  The forest service allows up to three gallons of mushrooms but pickers must be in possession of a “free use permit” that is free of charge and can be obtained at the Glide Umpqua National Forest Service station.


The Mainstream is a student publication of Umpqua Community College.