Sacred Tree Profile: Chestnut’s Magic, Medicine, Mythology and Meaning (Castanea dentata)

The Druid's Garden

Basket of abundant chestnuts!

Just a few weeks ago, I went and checked the local chestnut trees that are in a field near where I live.  Ever since I moved to the new homestead, I have been eagerly visiting these trees.  Last year, they dropped plenty of husks but with only shriveled nuts inside. This year, I was extraordinarily pleased to find that both trees had produced a bumper crop of the delicious nuts–some almost 2″ across, but most smaller, almost all worm-free, and delicious. I eagerly filled my basket with the nuts, stepping carefully around the extremely prickly husks.  I sat with each of the trees and we conversed as I harvested the nuts. I took home 25 lbs of nuts that day, and these nuts will sustain myself, my geese (who love them), and my friends and family for many a Samhain, Thanksgiving, and Yule feast!  Chestnut trees…

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On The Hunt For Autumn Mushrooms (new video)!

Greetings!

After spending a wonderful weekend teaching classes at the Midwest Wild Harvest Festival in Wisconsin, I’m back in Pennsylvania and excited to experience the transformations that accompany the autumn season.

Western Pennsylvania, unlike most of Wisconsin, has experienced very little rainfall during the past month.  Honey holes and hen houses have been awfully and uncharacteristically quiet in many parts of our woods, leading many dispirited foragers to wonder aloud (and especially on Facebook): “Is it time to hang up the basket?”

Fortunately, the claim that any mushroom season is “poor” is oftentimes one of opinion and conjecture.  As the notable mycologist Gary Lincoff would frequently say:  “Even if you don’t see the mushrooms, they’re there.”

In other words, keep looking.

Taking Gary’s advice to heart, I’m forever committed to finding fungi even in the most inhospitable of circumstances.  In this brand new video, I share with you a recent excursion into the (very dry) woods in search of autumn mushrooms.

More than just a mushroom hunt, however, this video features discussions on old growth trees, the ecological value of parasites, and nutty decomposers.

Enjoy!

I was a recent guest on the World Wild Podcast, hosted by internationally renowned wild foods expert, author, and public speaker Miles Irving.  In this interview, we discuss nature deficit disorder, societal barriers to nature connection, medicinal mushrooms, wild spring water, and more.   Check it out!

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

-Adam Haritan

A New Study Supports The Claim That This Mushroom Can Stave Off Dementia

Greetings!

I’m constantly scanning the scientific literature in search of new studies that document the healing potential of mushrooms.  Recently, I encountered a study whose results lend even more support to the use of one particular mushroom for cognitive health.

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is an edible mushroom whose fruiting body consists of an unbranched, cushiony mass of icicle-like spines.  This fungus is a common decomposer of hardwood trees and can often be found late summer through early winter in eastern North America.

In addition to its culinary use, Lion’s Mane is valued for its potential therapeutic applications.  More specifically, extracts from this fungus have been shown to offer support for the treatment of cognitive impairment and depression.

A brand new study published in the journal Biomedical Research revealed that ingestion of Lion’s Mane fruiting bodies significantly improved cognitive function in human participants.

This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial utilized 31 humans over the age of 50.  Participants in the experimental group ingested 4 supplements — each containing 0.8 grams of powdered Lion’s Mane — every day for 12 weeks.

After 12 weeks of ingestion, the participants in the experimental group significantly outperformed those in the control group (participants who received a placebo) on tests that are commonly used in medicine to screen for dementia.

Researchers concluded that compounds within Lion’s Mane known as hericenones potentially have the ability to influence “brain neural networks and improve cognitive functions” (Biomedical Research, 2019).

Even better, Lion’s Mane is currently fruiting in eastern North America and will continue to make appearances throughout the next few months.  In other words, you have the ability to forage your own wild medicine right now.

If you’re interested in learning how to forage Lion’s Mane and dozens of other wild fungi, don’t forget to check out what Foraging Wild Mushrooms has to offer.

This online course is designed to teach you the skills necessary to safely and confidently harvest wild fungi for food, for medicine, for study, and for fun.

Today (Monday) is the last day to enroll, as registration will close at midnight.

To learn more, you can follow this link:  Foraging Wild Mushrooms

In the meantime, consider delving deeper into the fascinating world of Lion’s Mane and its ability to protect the human brain against cognitive decline.  The research seems promising!

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

-Adam Haritan

Greetings!

If you’ve taken an interest in foraging wild mushrooms, you’ve undoubtedly encountered rules of thumb that are meant to simplify the learning process.

“If it bruises blue, it’s toxic.”

“Mushrooms shouldn’t be consumed with alcohol.”

“Pulling up a mushroom by its ‘roots’ is a poor harvesting technique.”

In many cases, however, well-intentioned advice and general rules of thumb turn out to be nothing more than myths.

To clear up some confusion, I thought I’d address many popular myths surrounding the foraging and consumption of wild mushrooms.

The following video is one of over 70 exclusive videos featured in Foraging Wild Mushrooms.  While all content within the online course is only available to students who register within the next 4 days, I thought I’d share this video with everyone because of the timely information contained within it.

If you’re interested in foraging mushrooms for food, for medicine, for study, or just for fun, check out what Foraging Wild Mushrooms has to offer.  This 4-season course covers the most important lessons to get you started and to keep you going.

To learn more, you can follow this link:  Foraging Wild Mushrooms

(Don’t forget that Monday is the last day to register.)

In the meantime, here are 16 mushroom myths!

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

-Adam Haritan

The Small Mushrooms We’re All Overlooking (new video!)

Greetings!

Just a reminder that on Monday, September 16th, I’ll be opening registration for my online course Foraging Wild Mushrooms.  This course is designed for beginner-level mushroom enthusiasts who are looking to confidently and successfully harvest wild mushrooms for food, for medicine, for study, and for fun.

If you’re interested in signing up for Foraging Wild Mushrooms, mark your calendar for Monday, September 16th and visit this link.

And now on to this week’s brand new video!

I’ve never been one to judge a mushroom based on its size.  Teeny-tiny fungi can be equally as fascinating as big, beefy mushrooms.

During a recent walk through a beautiful forest, I encountered all kinds of small mushrooms whose roles were no less essential than those of the larger fungi.  Rather than keep these fungal encounters to myself, I thought I’d pull out my camera and document the fun.

If you’re interested in learning some neat things about a few of the smaller mushrooms that may be growing in your neck of the woods, check out the brand new video!

Speaking of fascinating fungi, have you ever met a blue mushroom that smelled strongly of anise?  Pictured here is one such fragrant fungus that commonly decomposes forest debris during the summer and autumn months.  To learn more about this mushroom, and to view more photographs, check out the recent Instagram post!

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

-Adam Haritan

Foraging Wild Mushrooms — Online Course Registration Opens Next Week!

Greetings!

I’m extremely excited to announce that, in anticipation of the upcoming autumn mushroom season, registration for my online course will be open next week on Monday, September 16th.  Since the course’s first launch in May, I’ve added several new videos and will continue to add them throughout the year.

Foraging Wild Mushrooms is a four-season course designed to help you confidently and successfully forage wild mushrooms.  Whether you’re interested in foraging for food, for medicine, for study, or just for fun, this online course covers the most important lessons to get you started and to keep you going!

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.

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

Please note that Foraging Wild Mushrooms will only be open for registration for one week only, from midnight on September 16th to Monday, September 23rd.  After September 23rd, registration will be closed.

If you’re interested in signing up for Foraging Wild Mushrooms, mark your calendar for Monday, September 16th and visit this link.

I’ve derived so much enjoyment foraging wild food and medicine from the fungal kingdom over the years, and I’d love to help you experience the same life-changing thrills too!

I hope to see you on September 16th!
-Adam Haritan

Who Knew That The Chicken Mushroom Could Have An Endangered Look-Alike?

Greetings!

Within the world of mushroom hunting exists a regionally-dictated and arbitrary list known as the “foolproof four.”  Such an assemblage includes choice edible fungi that are easily identified.

Chicken Of The Woods, with its vivid colors and meaty texture, is one wild mushroom whose name is frequently included in “foolproof four” lists across North America.  Ask any seasoned mushroom hunter, and he or she will tell you that few wild fungi resemble Chicken Of The Woods.

But few doesn’t always mean zero.

There are mushrooms that, at least from a distance, can certainly resemble Chicken Of The Woods, and featured in the following video (and pictured above) is one such look-alike that’s actually considered to be critically endangered in some forests around the world.

If you’re interested in learning more about this bright orange fungus that can indeed resemble Chicken Of The Woods, check out the brand new video!

And in case you missed it, I released another brand new video last week without sending an accompanying email.

This time, we’re talking about a common plant that undoubtedly lives an unconventional life.  With names like Devil’s Guts, Strangle Weed, and Love Vine, this wild plant is despised by many people and surprisingly cherished by others.

Check out the video if you haven’t seen it already!

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

-Adam Haritan

August (and Blackberry Jam)

Hedgerow Vintage

Isn’t August the strangest of months? One day you are in the middle of summer and then the next the edges of the Autumn are creeping all around. It is a wonderfully golden month…so full of life with fruit and vegetables ripening on every branch and the fields still blazing in the late summer sunshine.

Nature has shifted from growth to ripening, and everything feels ‘full’.

If you look at the trees, you can just see the little hints of gold creeping in, it is a beautiful month, but it reminds us that we cannot keep the summer, or indeed the fruits ripe on the trees – I love the below Seamus Heaney Poem. It’s perfect for August.

What we can keep though, is as much of Augusts harvests as we are able. So, here is a simple recipe for Blackberry Jam and a hope you find the time to…

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Staghorn Sumac Sugar Fritters — Gather Victoria

A Bunyol is a Spanish Sugared fritter, so these are Staghorn Sumac Sugar Bunyols. Imagine a warm doughnut (without the hole) rolled in a silky lemony tasting icing sugar and you’ve got the idea. A bunyol (or buñuelo) is a small yeasty bun traditionally enjoyed in Spain on All Saints Day (Nov.1st) which is dedicated to the memory of the…

via Staghorn Sumac Sugar Fritters — Gather Victoria

Botanizing Along The Pennsylvania Turnpike (New video!)

Greetings!

First, I’d like to say “thanks!” to everyone who registered for the upcoming Midwest Wild Harvest Festival in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.  The event has officially sold out, though if you’re looking for additional opportunities to learn foraging (specifically mushroom foraging), look no further than the annual Gary Lincoff Memorial Foray on September 21st in Pittsburgh.

Tickets are still available for this latter event in which I, along with Bill Russell (author of Field Guide to Wild Mushrooms of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic) and Rick Kerrigan (the foremost authority on North American Agaricus mushrooms) will be presenting during the afternoon lecture sessions.

And now on to this week’s brand new video!

I get the feeling that most people wouldn’t consider major highways to be prime habitats for botanical exploration.  Interestingly, however, areas that are perpetually kept in an early stage of ecological succession — especially areas that receive ample amounts of sunlight — can harbor incredible numbers of plant species.

Such is the case with the Pennsylvania Turnpike — a 360+ mile highway that traverses the entire state.

I recently spent some time exploring an area alongside the Pennsylvania Turnpike in search of native plants that thrive during the warmest weeks of the year.  And of course, I decided to film the experience.

If you’re interested in seeing what it’s like to botanize along the Pennsylvania Turnpike in mid-August, check out the brand new video!

 

 

Bad hair day or fungal overgrowth?  Unfortunately for this spider engulfed in mycelium, things aren’t looking too good.  Have you ever seen something like this in your neck of the woods?  Check out this Instagram post to learn more!

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

-Adam Haritan