6 Trees You Can Easily Identify By Smell

As winter approaches, tree identification can pose many problems to those of us who typically rely on flowers, fruits, and foliage for clues.

Fortunately, trees don’t completely disappear during the coldest months, and although their winter outfits may conceal several diagnostic features, dormant trees still offer us a few critical pieces of information.

Take smell, for instance.

Many trees produce unique aromas and odors that can be detected when we scratch their fresh twigs.  These aromas will oftentimes lead us to a positive identification when other features fail to do so. 

In a brand new video, I discuss six trees that you can easily identify by smell.  If you’re interested in improving your winter tree identification skills, check it out!

Unlike deciduous trees in my neck of the woods, many creatures do not go dormant during the winter season.  I recently encountered this semi-aquatic animal while I was exploring the bank of a swift stream.  Are you familiar with this carnivore?  Check out the most recent Instagram post to learn more.Click to view post

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

-Adam Haritan

Yellow Knight: Thoughts On Eating A “Deadly” Mushroom

To determine whether a mushroom is edible or not, time is one factor worth considering. 

A mushroom that has been eaten for centuries with few adverse events reported is a mushroom that most people would consider to be edible. 

On the other hand, a mushroom with a centuries-old reputation of being toxic is certainly a mushroom whose edibility should be called into serious question, even in modern times.

But not all mushrooms fit neatly into those two categories.

Take the Yellow Knight, for instance. 

The Yellow Knight is a wild mushroom that had been safely eaten for centuries.  In the 1990s, however, consumption of the Yellow Knight suddenly and unexpectedly became linked to multiple human poisonings.  Some of these poisonings resulted in death.

During a recent walk through a pine forest, I encountered the infamous Yellow Knight mushroom.  After careful consideration, I decided to harvest the mushroom and cook it, and in the following video I explain why I would do such a thing.

If you are interested in learning more about a common yet controversial fall mushroom, check out the brand new video!

Deeper into the forest full of Yellow Knight mushrooms, this wildflower was blossoming under red pine trees.  Known as Yellow Ladies’ Tresses, this orchid is involved in a tangled web of specialized relationships.  Check out this recent Instagram post to learn more.Click to view post

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

-Adam Haritan

Reflections On Eating One Of The Strangest Mushrooms In The World

Stinkhorns, with their presumptuous shapes and foul odors, are truly some of the strangest creatures in the biological world.  Any rational person could be forgiven for assuming that such bizarre fungi couldn’t possibly be edible.

Fortunately, however, nature isn’t always rational, and foul-smelling entities with presumptuous shapes can sometimes be eaten.

Take Ravenel’s Stinkhorn, for instance.

This strongly-scented fungus grows in wood chips and along trails during the autumn months.  As it turns out, Ravenel’s Stinkhorn is considered to be edible with one caveat:  only its immature “eggs” are supposedly fit to be eaten.

During a recent walk, I encountered quite a few of these funny-looking stinkhorns growing alongside their primordial eggs.  Rather than snap a few photographs and flee the scene, I decided to harvest a few eggs and see for myself just how edible these quirky creatures could be.

If you are interested in hearing my candid thoughts on eating one of the strangest mushrooms in the world, check out the brand new video!

Speaking of strange fungi, this odd-looking pair inhabits forests in eastern North America and performs critical roles in maintaining the health of oak trees.  Check out this recent Instagram post to learn more.Click to view post

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

-Adam Haritan

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

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