The Mushroom With A Questionable Reputation

Greetings,

Before I share a brand new video with you, I want to provide a reminder that today — Monday, September 28th—  is the last day to register for Foraging Wild Mushrooms.  After midnight, registration will be closed for the season.

If you want to learn the skills involved in safely and successfully harvesting wild mushrooms with confidence, Foraging Wild Mushrooms can help you achieve that goal.

Click here to register before midnight.

Now on to this week’s brand new video — a video in which we take a look at the discrepancies involved in classifying nature.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that things in nature don’t always fit so neatly into human-constructed categories. 

Take the Freckled Dapperling, for instance.

The Freckled Dapperling is a wild mushroom that grows on plant debris during the autumn season.  Some sources claim that the Freckled Dapperling is edible; others state that it’s inedible; and plenty of other sources claim that it’s poisonous.

Needless to say, the Freckled Dapperling is a mushroom that’s certainly worthy of our attention, and in the following video, I do my best to answer some very important questions about this fascinating fungus.

To learn more about the questionable mushroom known as the Freckled Dapperling, check out the brand new video!

Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan

The Delicious Wild Mushroom That Isn’t Always Recommended To Beginners

Greetings,

An autumn mushroom that you may see over the next few weeks is the Parasol Mushroom.  Edible, delicious, and easily spotted in the woods, the Parasol Mushroom is a favorite amongst many foragers for its nutty smell and taste.  

The Parasol Mushroom, however, is not the easiest mushroom to positively identify because it shares similar features with several other species — some of which are toxic.  Many field guides and online articles fail to include a sufficient number of images and offer little help in identifying the Parasol Mushroom.  Such lack of detail can leave readers with more questions than answers, and ultimately with no Parasol Mushrooms for dinner!

To address this issue and to assist with the identification process, I created an extremely detailed video outlining all the important pieces of information that any forager needs to know in order to safely and confidently harvest the Parasol Mushroom for the table.  This video is one of over 75 exclusive videos featured in Foraging Wild Mushrooms — a four-season online course designed to help you confidently and successfully forage wild mushrooms.  

Registration for Foraging Wild Mushrooms is open until Monday, September 28th at midnight.  After September 28th, registration will be closed. 

If you’ve ever considered harvesting wild mushrooms but didn’t know where to start, or where to go, or how to discern between edible and poisonous species, Foraging Wild Mushrooms will equip you with the skills necessary to ensure that your harvests are safe and successful. 

To get a sneak peek into the kinds of content found within the course, please enjoy this video.

A portion of all proceeds derived from course sales will be donated to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy — a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to protect and restore exceptional places and forests for the benefit of present and future generations. 

Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!

—Adam Haritan

Foraging Wild Mushrooms ~ Online Course Is Now Open For Enrollment

I’m very excited to announce that Foraging Wild Mushrooms is currently open for enrollment!

This 4-season online course is designed to help you safely, successfully, and confidently forage wild mushrooms from the forest, from the field, and even from your own backyard.

Whether you’re interested in foraging for food, for medicine, for study, or just for fun, Foraging Wild Mushrooms covers the most important lessons to get you started.

In addition to over 75 step-by-step exclusive and instructional videos included within the course, you’ll also receive:

  • Supplemental handouts covering mushroom anatomy, terminology, and biology that you can download and print for easy viewing.
  • A 42-page guide to medicinal mushrooms that summarizes the latest research on the most popular medicinal fungi with over 75 peer-reviewed references.
  • Immediate and lifetime access to all materials.

Additionally, I’m equally excited to let you know that a portion of all proceeds derived from course sales will be donated to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy — a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to protect and restore exceptional places and forests for the benefit of present and future generations.

Since 1932, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has protected more than a quarter-million acres of natural places.  To express gratitude, and to ensure that these and many more wild places exist for generations to come, I find it imperative to support organizations that in turn directly support the land.

Therefore, a portion of all proceeds derived from this enrollment period will be donated to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy for use in land conservation.

Please note that enrollment for Foraging Wild Mushrooms is open for one week only — from today until Monday, September 28th at midnight.  After that, enrollment will be closed.

To learn more about the course, check out this video which gives an overview of what you can expect.

I hope to see you in there!
—Adam Haritan

Looking for Buffalo Nuts (New video!) + Nature Photography Workshop

Greetings,

Some plants are easy to find.  Other plants require time, turnpike tolls, and chance encounters with botanists’ field notes in order to pinpoint their precise locations.

Buffalo Nut, an understory shrub with a rather bizarre lifestyle, falls into the latter category.

My first encounter with Buffalo Nut took place more than 5 years ago.  Since that initial sighting, I had never seen the plant again.

A few weeks ago, I came across a list of plants that a few botanists had compiled regarding the flora of certain forests.  One of those forests was located in the southwestern portion of the state, and one of the plants included on the list was the elusive Buffalo Nut.

Intrigued, I decided to plan a visit to this forest in search of Buffalo Nut, though because I was quite unfamiliar with the area, I knew that I’d be embarking on a small-scale adventure.  What excited me the most was finding its fruits, because years ago when I first discovered the plant, I had only witnessed it in flower.

The trip was planned, though the questions remained.  Would I find the fruits?  Would I even find the plant?  Why are turnpike tolls so expensive?

In this brand new video, I recount the story of my recent adventure in search of an unassuming denizen of the forest.

Click here to watch the video.

If you are interested in learning artistic nature photography skills, there are two upcoming opportunities to learn directly from an expert in the field.  Michael Haritan (my father) is a photographer with over 30 years of experience.  He will be teaching two separate classes in southwestern Pennsylvania (Allegheny County) on the techniques involved in using the camera to create images worthy of artistic merit.  If you are interested in taking your photography skills to the next level, these all-day classes are definitely worth the investment.

Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan

A Weed Lover’s Manifesto

The Herb Society of America Blog


By Andrea Jackson

I love weeds. There, I said it.  Don’t worry, I do pull them (there’s a reason why they’re called weeds, after all), but I am much more likely to make a tincture or a salve or something good (yes, good) to eat than to discard them completely.

After all, weeds were really the first herbs. Emerson said “weeds are but an unloved flower.” They have also been called a plant out of place. Consider a field of commercial dandelions with a single forlorn rose bush growing in the middle. Now which one is the weed?

Plantago_major_SZ356869_Freshwater_MCotterill_IWNHASWeeds tell wonderful stories, and as we learn them, they take us on a journey to discover where they came from and how they came to be who they are today. 

For example, there’s the common broadleaf plantain (Plantago major). Broadleaf plantain is everywhere, which is a good thing for…

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The Tree That’s Only Slightly Out Of Place

Greetings,

In the fields of biology and ecology, a specific word is used to describe a living organism that no longer inhabits a particular area:  extirpated.

An extirpated tree, for instance, grows in other regions of the world, but it no longer exists in a particular place that it formerly occupied.

An appropriate example is the Atlantic White-Cedar tree.  This coniferous tree formerly inhabited the state of Pennsylvania, though by the early 19th century all wild populations had been logged.  Atlantic White-Cedar is not extinct, however, because its range currently spans the Atlantic coastline.  Instead, this tree is considered to be extirpated from Pennsylvania because wild populations no longer grow here.

This past weekend, I encountered something fascinating:  a healthy population of Atlantic White-Cedar in Pennsylvania.  This population was located within a beautiful bog containing typical bog specialists including cranberry, huckleberry, pitcher plant, sundew, and dozens of other plants.

Interestingly, ecologists and botanists are well aware of these Pennsylvanian Atlantic White-Cedar trees, and even though this population of Atlantic White-Cedar seems to be thriving, the tree is still considered to be extirpated from the state.

But why?

In this brand new video, I discuss the topic and address a few pertinent questions.  If you are unfamiliar with the beautiful and majestic Atlantic White-Cedar tree, check out the video!

July through September is mating season for timber rattlesnakes in Pennsylvania, and in this recent Instagram post, I describe a very recent and close encounter with one of these beautiful creatures.

Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan

Looking For Poison In All The Wet Places

Greetings,

Swampy wetlands can be unforgiving places during the summer months.  The vegetation is thick, the mosquitoes are hungry, and the lack of tree cover forbids any kind of refuge from the mid-day sun.

Strange as it may seem, I still find myself drawn to these soggy habitats in search of organisms that are not commonly encountered elsewhere.  Wet feet and insect bites are small prices to pay in exchange for opportunities to observe and learn new species.

During a recent trip to one of these remote wetlands in western Pennsylvania, I experienced quite a spectacle: the flowers of swamp rose; the immature fruits of winterberry; and the thread-like stems of dodder intimately engaging with every herbaceous plant in sight.

Amongst this activity, I couldn’t help but notice a shrubby plant inhabiting the margins.  Insects were crawling up and down its branches and birds were singing in its canopy, but I knew that any physical contact between the plant and my skin could result in serious consequences.

This plant, which is known as poison sumac, can lead to painful rashes in over 85% of humans.  Susceptible individuals experience symptoms similar to (and reportedly worse than) the reactions caused by poison ivy.

Instead of avoiding the plant, I decided to film a video in which I discuss not only the unique ability of poison sumac to cause skin irritations in humans, but also its ecological value in supporting the health of other organisms.

If you are interested in learning more, check out the new video!

I was a recent guest on the Wild Fed Podcast hosted by Daniel Vitalis.  We covered lots of topics in this interview including plant and fungal interactions, the sustainability of gathering food from the land, the importance of learning non-edible species, and lots more.  You can listen to the conversation here.

Speaking of plant and fungal interactions, did you know that wild blueberries depend on fungi for sustenance?  Without these inter-kingdom relationships, far fewer blueberry shrubs would probably exist.  Check out a recent Instagram post to learn more.

Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan

Spicebush to the Rescue

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Kaila Blevins

Author Volunteer TripWhile on a volunteer trip in Orlando, Florida, I was desperate for bug spray. In the middle of December, the mosquitoes nibbled on any exposed skin they could find, leaving me and the rest of the unprepared Maryland native participants with patches of red swollen bumps on our ankles and arms. Our guides, a retired couple who volunteers with the state parks, became our heroes on the second day of the trip. During our lunch break, the husband saunters over to us, carrying a branch from a nearby shrub and states, “This is spicebush. Crush its leaves and rub it onto your arms. Keeps the bugs away and helps the itch.” Immediately, we passed the branch around, ripped the leaves off the branch, crumpled them, and rubbed the lemon-peppery scented oil onto our skin.

A couple years later, I would learn that spicebush (Lindera benzoin)…

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Sacred Tree Profile: Staghorn Sumac (Rhus Typhina)

The Druid's Garden

A lovely stand of staghorn sumac in bloom! A lovely stand of staghorn sumac in bloom!

As we begin the march from summer into fall, the Staghorn Sumac are now in bloom.  With their flaming flower heads reaching into the sky, the Staghorn sumac are striking upon our landscape.  As fall comes, the Staghorn Sumac leaves turn fiery red before dropping and leaving their beautiful, antler-like, and hairy stems behind.  All through the winter months, the Staghorn Sumac stems stand like antlers reaching into the heavens, until they bud and spring returns again.  This post explores the medicine, magic, ecology, herbalism, craft, and bushcraft uses, and lore surrounding these amazing trees.

This post is a part of my Sacred Trees in the Americas series, which is my long-running series where I focus on trees that are dominant along the Eastern USA and Midwest USA, centering on Western PA, where I live.  Previous trees in this series have included:

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Food as Medicine: Moringa (Moringa oleifera, Moringaceae)

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Moringa oleifera is one of the 12 known Moringa species in the horseradish tree family (Moringaceae) that flourish in drier parts of the world.1 Nine species occur in eastern Ethiopia, northern Kenya, and Somalia, of which eight moringa flowersare endemic to Africa, and three species occur in India.1,2 Belonging to the Brassicales order, this plant family is distantly related to cruciferous vegetables like arugula (Eruca vesicaria ssp. sativa, Brassicaceae) and broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica, Brassicaceae) and contains many of the same nutrients and sulfurous phytochemicals.1,3 Moringa species grow as stout-stemmed trees or shrubs. Some species are known as bottle trees and have a large root system that enhances water storage and aids the trees’ survival during periods of drought.1 Members of the Moringa genus have corky gray bark and distinct bi- or tri-pinnately compound leaves that have conspicuous swellings, or pulvini, at…

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