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

The Miracle Of Woodpeckers

Greetings,

A few weeks ago, I decided to explore a familiar wooded area located only a few miles from home.  I didn’t have any particular goal in mind other than to enjoy a rainy afternoon in the company of blooming plants and trees.

Two hours of botanizing had passed before I headed back to the trailhead, fully satisfied having observed oaks, birches, and beeches in flower.

Just before I could complete my hike, however, I was suddenly alerted to a peculiar commotion emanating from the canopy.  I instinctively turned around to look at an American beech tree, and upon doing so I discovered something quite remarkable:  a pileated woodpecker nest, replete with an adult male and two juveniles.

With curiosity and amazement, I observed the adult woodpecker as he regurgitated insects and fed his hungry sons.  The whole ordeal lasted for only a minute before the adult departed and the juveniles retreated back into their nest.

Rather than snap a few photographs and end the interaction there, I decided to visit the nest every day until the juveniles left.

Two weeks later, I was utterly transformed by the entire experience.

In the following video, I discuss my rewarding observations and emotion-rich encounters with these beautiful birds.

If you’ve never experienced an active pileated woodpecker nest up close, this is your chance to do so.

You can watch the brand new video here.

 

Even during dry spells, delicious wild mushrooms occasionally make surprise appearances.  Such was the case with this Lion’s Mane mushroom — an edible fungus that I recently found on a black locust tree.  To learn more about Lion’s Mane, check out this recent Learn Your Land Instagram post.

 

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

-Adam Haritan

4 Fascinating Orange Mushrooms Worth Learning

Greetings,

Orange is not the first word that comes to mind when most people think about a hemlock forest.  Greens, grays, tans, and browns are instead the colors that typify these densely shaded areas — especially as the early days of summer approach.

With careful observation, however, and with a directed focus on the fungal world, any color can easily make itself known in a dark forest.

On a recent walk through one of these areas, the only mushrooms that I encountered were orange.  Of course, I thought nothing of it upon seeing the first orange species, and I wasn’t too surprised after finding a second orange mushroom either.

But then I found a third, and eventually a fourth.

And I inevitably thought to myself, “Someone should document this.”

Fortunately, I brought my camera along for the adventure and decided to film the orange mushrooms that were appearing in succession.  All four mushrooms are fascinating, though a few of them are often overlooked and underappreciated despite their brilliant coloration.

If you are interested in learning more about orange mushrooms that may be growing in a forest near you, check out the new video.

When I am not looking down at the forest floor for plants and mushrooms, I am looking up into the canopy for birds of all colors.  Fortunately, I live in a region characterized by its avian diversity, and if you are interested in seeing some of the birds that have recently posed for my camera, check out the Learn Your Land Instagram page.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan

Be On The Lookout For This Elusive & Bizarre Edible Mushroom

Greetings,

Over the next few months, a strange wild mushroom will manifest from the trunks of oaks and other deciduous trees.  At first glance, this fungus resembles a scarlet-colored spaceship.  Upon closer inspection, however, and especially upon internal inspection, this mushroom literally looks like raw meat.

The Beefsteak Polypore is a mushroom unlike any other.  In some parts of Europe, this species is considered rare.  Here in North America, summer and autumn sightings of the Beefsteak Polypore aren’t infrequent, though they’re not incredibly common either.  The underside of this mushroom is comprised of tiny tubes that aren’t connected to one another, and the mushroom’s taste is mildly acidic… almost reminiscent of a tangy portobello mushroom.

Needless to say, the Beefsteak Polypore is one mushroom worth adding to your must-see list of 2020.

To learn more about this fascinating fungus, you can view the following video for the next few days.  This video is one of over 70 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, May 25th at midnight.  After May 25th, 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 Open For Enrollment

Greetings,

I’m very excited to announce that Foraging Wild Mushrooms is open for enrollment for the next 7 days.

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 70 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 and features 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, May 25th 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

6 Scientifically Validated Reasons To Eat Mushrooms

Greetings,

The spring mushroom season is well underway for many of us, and although morels have called it quits in more than a few parts of the country, plenty of additional edible mushrooms will faithfully appear over the next several months.

In anticipation of the late spring/early summer mushroom season, I’m excited to announce that registration for my online course will open on Monday, May 18th.

Foraging Wild Mushrooms is a four-season course designed to help you confidently and successfully forage wild mushrooms.  This course is presented entirely online and it features over 70 exclusive videos that cover all the essentials for beginner-level mushroom hunters, including mushroom ecology; mushroom biology; common edible mushrooms; medicinal mushrooms; poisonous mushrooms; cooking techniques; medicine-making; and more.

Registration for Foraging Wild Mushrooms will be open for one week only, from midnight on May 18th to Monday, May 25th.  After May 25th, registration will be closed.

Upon registration, you can watch the videos at your own pace and you will have access to the course forever.

If you are interested in signing up for Foraging Wild Mushrooms, mark your calendar for Monday, May 18th and visit this link.  All additional information — including course outline and tuition — will be posted on Monday.

In the meantime, please enjoy the following video featuring 6 scientifically validated reasons to eat mushrooms.  This video is one of the lessons included in Foraging Wild Mushrooms, and while all content within the course is available only to registered students, I thought I’d share this video with you because of the pertinent information contained within it.

Thanks for reading and watching, and I hope to see you on May 18th!

-Adam Haritan

Looking to forage mushrooms this year? Here’s a good resource to get started!

Greetings,

If your experiences were anything like mine, then you received very little education on the subject of mycology in school.

Even during university-level biology classes, I distinctly remember the blatant omission of anything mushroom-related.

As luck would have it, I took this as an indication that perhaps there were ulterior motives involved — a kind of educational negligence by design.  Feeling a bit snubbed, and to fill the void, I did what any mushroom-illiterate person might do.

I joined a mushroom club.  I bought a few field guides.  And I met some people who seemed to know what they were doing.

Over the years, I continued the educational process and have spent countless hours learning from professional mycologists, ecologists, mushroom enthusiasts, obscure books, scientific articles, outdated keys, and of course… the mushrooms themselves.  Through this process, I’ve developed a deep passion for the fungal kingdom that continuously fuels my work.

Perhaps because I feel that no school curriculum in the 21st century should withhold training on place-based skills, I’ve made it part of my work to increase the availability and accessibility of this information.

A recent manifestation of this work is an introductory video that I created on the topic of mushroom collection and identification.  In the following video, I cover information that will assist you in the process of safely, confidently, and successfully foraging wild mushrooms.

You can watch the brand new video here.

 

Have you ever seen anything that looks like this?  If you have apple and eastern red-cedar trees nearby, perhaps you also live within the vicinity of this incredibly bizarre fungus.  Check out this recent Instagram post to learn more!

I had the pleasure of being a guest on the Wizard’s Corner Podcast.  In this interview, we discuss wild food nutrition, slime molds, the value of place-based skills, the ins and outs of the Learn Your Land YouTube channel, and much more.  You can listen to the interview through any of the following channels:

Thanks for reading, and thanks for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan

In Praise Of Wood Frogs

Greetings,

In my neck of the woods, signs of spring abound — from the blooming of Snow Trillium and Sharp-Lobed Hepatica, to the reappearance of the Eastern Phoebe and warmer days.

Among the indications that winter has predictably expired and tipped its hat to another growing season is the emergence of the wood frog.

The wood frog is one of nature’s most resilient and adaptable creatures, occupying a range that — at the species level — spans thousands of miles of varied habitats.  Perhaps most interesting of all is that this hardy frog has the amazing ability to freeze solid when temperatures plummet… and survive the experience!

The wood frog has been patronizing the local pools lately, allowing itself to be observed and filmed by anyone with any interest in these sorts of things.

As it turns out, I do have a deep interest in these sorts of things, and I recently visited a nearby floodplain to document and film the seasonal manners of this libidinous amphibian.

If you are interested in learning more about the wood frog — and also about vernal pools, cryoprotectants, and holistic approaches to conservation — check out the brand new video!

 

Have you ever seen something that looks like this?  Though it resembles a pinecone, this structure is not produced by any conifer tree.  Instead, this pyramidal growth is produced in response to an insect that feeds on a particular flowering shrub.  Check out this recent Instagram post to learn more!

 

Thanks for reading and watching… and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

Early Season Scouting For Morel Mushrooms

Greetings!

Few sights are more enticing to the spring mushroom hunter than a morel mushroom.

So beloved is this iconic fungus that annual festivals are held in its honor, earrings are crafted in its image, and two babies per one million born are given its name.

Morels, more so than any other fungus, and for reasons both known and unknown, have come to epitomize spring mushroom hunting.

In anticipation of the long-awaited morel mushroom season, I thought I would head to the woods early to scout out potential hot-spots.  While doing so, I decided to document the experience and discuss some of the conditions I’ll be looking for in a few weeks.

If you are interested in tagging along with me as I explore several different habitats for these highly prized — yet oftentimes elusive — fungi, check out the brand new video!

 

 

I was a recent guest on the Publicly Challenged podcast hosted by Lucas Oswald.  In this conversation, we discuss foraging for mushrooms, hunting for meat, the value of older mentors, what’s going on behind the camera, and much more.  Here are a few ways to listen:

Thanks for reading and watching… and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan