Mushrooms That Grow on Conifers
Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungal life forms. Often the fungi is a large, spreading mass growing underground or through the wood of a tree, stump or fallen log. The mushroom is simply device the fungal life form sends forth to distribute its spores to propagate new fungal bodies. Most mushrooms grow in conjunction with specific forest conditions; some grow on and around deciduous trees, others on and around conifers, and others require mixed forests.
The King Bolete, also called a cep (Boletus edulis), is a popular edible mushroom gathered for home use and market in much of the United States. According to the Oregon State University Extension, the King Bolete grows at the base and amongst the roots of conifer trees and is prolific throughout the northwest. However, the King Bolete can be confused with other poisonous varieties of the bolete mushroom family, so mushroom pickers should exercise caution and be certain of their identification of this mushroom. The King Bolete is brown, with a thick stem and stocky rounded cap, growing to several inches high. Some states require that mushroomers picking King Boletes for sale or market obtain a license, and of course landowners' permission is also required for all mushroom collection.
Angel wings (Pleurocybella porrigens) is a soft, bright white shelf mushroom which grows abundantly on rotting conifer logs. According to the Evergreen State College, angel wings are edible with an interesting flavor, and because of their distinct pure white appearance and limited growing environment, they should be reasonably easily identified by most experienced mushroomers; however, some fatal poisonings have been reported when people with weakened health consumed large quantities of angel wings, so exercise caution if eating this mushroom, or simply enjoy its ethereal beauty in the forest.
The orange jelly, or orange witches butter (Dacrymyces palmatus) grows in dense clusters on decaying conifer wood and can be found in moist hemlock and pine forests from May through December, according to a Messiah College guide to fungi on wood. Jelly fungi, like witches butter, grow into a sticky, slimy looking gelatinous mass. A small point of growth connects the witches butter to the underlying tree, and distinctive white cob-web like mycelium surrounds the point of attachment. Despite the rather unappetizing appearance, witches butter is a prized edible treat by many mushroom collectors and is often sauteed in butter and served with eggs and toast.