Eat 84 Grams Of Mushrooms. Here’s Why

Mushrooms have come a long way in recent years.

Formerly classified as primitive plants in the taxonomic sense and as white vegetables in the culinary sense, fungi have since risen above their woefully outdated labels.

In the ecological context, we’ve learned that mushrooms are anything but primitive.  In the nutritional context, we’ve learned that mushrooms are dietary superstars.

Subsequently, it seems that there are just as many reasons to appreciate mushrooms as there are to eat them.  Human health, it turns out, is one overlapping reason.

Corroborating this motive is new research published in the journal Food, Science, & Nutrition.  In a recent study, researchers concluded that eating a small serving of mushrooms can have measurable and positive effects on human health.

In a brand new video, I discuss four important findings revealed in this study.  If you’re interested in learning the ways in which mushrooms can improve your health, check it out!

Like fungi, the American beaver has made considerable progress in recent years.  Formerly classified as extirpated in many states, beavers can now be found in urban parks.  To read about a morning encounter I had with North America’s largest rodent, check out the latest Instagram post!Click to view post

I was a recent guest on The Mushroom Hour podcast.  In the interview, we discuss many topics related to nature connection, supporting land conservation trusts, foraging wild water, and more.  You can listen to the interview through one of the following links:

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

-Adam Haritan

Magickal Properties and Uses of Viola, Violet Magic

Good Witches Homestead

Viola is a quiet, little magic. She springs up in fields, lawns, and at the edges of forests. Before her companions begin to bud, she’s blooming away, gathering in the cool, damp spring days. In spring’s quiet while everyone else has yet to awaken, Viola works her magic.

Violas come in a variety of colors and shapes. The ones herbalists are most sweet on are a species called Viola odorata, although we may well fall in love with some of her close cousins, too. Viola odorata sports blue blossoms. Viola tricolor, like the ones in my garden, bloom in deep purples, sometimes sporting a few yellow or white petals. Sometimes they’re called Johnny Jump-ups, Hearts-ease Violets, Sweet Violets, or Pansies by garden centers, sometimes just plain violets. Part of what makes V. odorata and her medicinal cousins particularly special is her scent.

Viola odorata or Violet is a…

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The Trick To Finding Edible Winter Mushrooms

Cloudy skies.  Frigid temperatures.  Frozen soils. 

Winter in my neck of the woods is a faithful provider of all those conditions and more.

Most wild creatures left the scene months agobut a handful of them — fungi included — remain active and reveal themselves to anyone with a desire to look.

Take Flammulina velutipes, for instance. 

Also known as Enoki, this wild edible fungus actually thrives in cold weather.  While many wild fungi retreat as temperatures fall, Enoki fruits prolifically with the help of antifreeze compounds produced within its tissues.

Enoki is also a fairly predictable fungus.  It associates with a particular tree that commonly grows in eastern North America.  If you know the name of this tree, you’ll have no trouble locating wild Enoki mushrooms.

In a brand new video, I discuss a few tips to help you identify and find this tree in the wild.  If you’re interested in learning more, check it out!

Another wild creature that hasn’t fled the scene completely is the Cedar Waxwing.  I recently observed a flock of these beautiful birds feasting in a local apple orchard.  To read about this encounter, check out the latest Instagram post.Click to view post

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

-Adam Haritan

This Edible Mushroom Grows In Human Bodies

For better or for worse, untold numbers of fungi live on and within our bodies. 

Some of these fungi are faithful allies.  Others can harm our bodies only under certain circumstances.  Almost all of them, it turns out, are microscopic and mostly undetectable to the naked eye.

But what about the larger mushrooms that live in forests?  Do they ever engage in any sort of physical relationship with humans?

For a very long time, mushroom-forming fungi were never known to grow inside human bodies.  Instead, molds and yeasts — including species of Candida and Aspergillus — were almost always the main culprits implicated in human disease.

And then something strange happened.  In 1950, a doctor treated a 33-year-old man for fungal overgrowth of his toes.  Upon isolating the fungus, the doctor discovered that his patient’s foot infection was attributed not to any of the usual mold-producing suspects, but instead to a mushroom-forming species that commonly grows on trees.

Since that shocking discovery 70 years ago, researchers have documented this wild fungus growing on and within other human bodies.  To date, almost 100 cases of infection and a few unexpected deaths have been reported.

During a recent walk through a local floodplain, I encountered this fascinating mushroom and decided to film a video regarding its bizarre tendency to do such a thing — to colonize human bodies and cause infection.

Check out the brand new video to learn more!

In addition to the sights of tree-eating mushrooms, a January walk through my local woods is likely to yield splendid sightings of wintering songbirds.  Pictured here is one such bird who demonstrates something known as differential migration.  In short, males overwinter farther north than females.  Why is this?  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

Readers Choice: Ringing in the Best of Blog Castanea

As we spin forward into 2021 (are we there yet, mom?!?), it’s exciting to reflect on what you—our friends, fans, and phenomenal plant family—went herb-wild for through the seasons.Did you know we serve up a splendid spread of free herbal content on our blog?In 2020, we decked the halls of Blog Castanea with garlands of new articles, and re-polished our most popular blogs from seasons past. We brought in new contributors and the blog officially became a team sport. Are you curious which topics were herbally admired and adored this year? And which plants people felt positively passionate about? Get caught up with our Best of 2020 Roll Call:
Continue reading “Readers Choice: Ringing in the Best of Blog Castanea”

This Tree Wins The Award For “Worst Christmas Tree”

Greetings,

Before I share a brand new video with you, I want to provide a reminder that today — Monday, December 21st—  is the last day to register for Foraging Wild Mushrooms.  After today, 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.

And now onto this week’s brand new video.

The declining temperatures, sunlight, and vitamin D levels have all ushered in the official arrival of winter — a season in which humans enjoy bringing trees indoors.

But not just any tree, of course.  Conifer trees — and more specifically pines, spruces, and firs — are among the most harvested and celebrated trees during the holiday season.

Some of these trees are soft and flexible (e.g., white pine).  Others are lush and aromatic (e.g., balsam fir).  All of them, it goes without saying, are perpetually green.

But there is one conifer tree that has never made the cut, and chances are good that, if you do consider yourself an arboreal celebrant of the holiday season, you’ve never invited this particular tree into your home.

In fact, out of all the trees discussed so far, this one would certainly be labeled “The Worst Christmas Tree.”

During a recent walk through a conifer landscape, I encountered this special tree and decided to film a video in which I attempted to answer several pertinent questions.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out the brand new video!

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

-Adam Haritan

Foraging Wild Mushrooms — Online Course Is Now Open For Enrollment!

Greetings!

The winter mushroom season is almost upon us, and at the request of those eager to pursue educational opportunities during the winter months, I’ve decided to open the doors to Foraging Wild Mushrooms 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 with over 75 peer-reviewed references.
  • Immediate and lifetime access to all materials.

Additionally, 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, December 21st.  After that, enrollment will be closed for the season.

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

Thanks for your continued support, and I hope to see you in there!
—Adam Haritan

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

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

Ode to the Oak: Acorn Harvesting, Preparation, Acorn Breads, and More!

The Druid's Garden

Honoring the oak

With the cooler temperatures of September and October, the abundance of the Oaks come forth.  In my area, we have abundant oaks of a variety of species: white oak, chestnut oak, eastern red oak, swamp oak, and much more.  Each of these oaks, every 2-3 years, produces an amazing crop of nuts that simply drop at your feet. Acorn was once a staple food crop of many different peoples around the world–and in some places, it still is.  Here in North America, acorns and chestnuts were primary food sources for native American people. Cultures subsided–and thrived–on annual acorn harvests and the bread, cakes, grits, and other foods that can be made with processed acorns.  I really enjoy processing acorns and using them as ritual foods for both the fall equinox and Samhain.

Thus, in this post, we’ll explore the magic of the acorn, how to process acorns…

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