Washington State offers a great climate for the growing of fungi including mushrooms. The heavily wooded and damp areas provide the right environment for the fungi to grow without much care or tending. It is important to be careful when looking for mushrooms because some are poisonous and others have psychedelic effects. The commercial mushroom business focuses on certain types of “safe” mushrooms.
The King bolete mushroom is good to be harvested in fall to spring if at low elevation and spring to summer at high elevations. These mushrooms are known to grow near Conifer trees. The white chanterelle also grows near these trees and should be harvested in late summer or fall. Both of these species have poisonous look-alike mushrooms. All other boletus species are deemed poisonous and the clitocybe is known as the False Chanterelle.
Fall and Spring Mushrooms
A shaggy parasol is part of the Lepiota species. It is the only one of the species that is edible. It can be found under trees or in meadows and lawns from fall to early winter. Matsutake harvest in the fall and grow especially well by lodge pole pines. There are no poisonous or dangerous look alikes of this mushroom. The edible morel comes in the spring by Conifers but you must be careful not to find the false morels or elfin saddles as they are dangerous.
The state of Washington requires annual licensing of all mushroom buyers as well as dealers. Restaurants are considered “dealers” by the definition of the mushroom standard if they buy from buyers because they sell the mushrooms to their diners. If the restaurant buys the mushrooms directly from the pickers they can be considered “buyers” and the cost of the license is lower.
In order to control the growth and harvesting of mushrooms, commercial and harvesting permits have become a requirement to pick mushrooms on public lands. On federal land, you can acquire a personal use permit at no charge, but commercial permits come with a fee. Due to the increase in demand for matsutakes, king boletes, morels and golden chanterelles some ecologists are concerned so tracking (paid for by permit fees) helps alleviate the worry of over harvesting.