Some wild mushrooms that grow around oak trees are very valuable, others very damaging. Wild mushrooms that grow around oak trees may be tasty edible treats but they may also be poisonous fungal growths. Use identifying characteristics to recognise the edible varieties of wild mushrooms and avoid the more toxic, dangerous varieties.
Vivid orange and yellow chanterelle mushrooms are used in culinary dishes but they grow naturally under oak and other hardwood trees from June to September. Chanterelles, which have ruffled edges, look like tubular flowers in bloom. Maitake, another popular food mushroom, grows at the base of many oak tree species. Maitake are brown, grey or yellowish in colour and grow with a large, round shape that resembles a cluster of mushroom caps.
The chicken mushroom, or sulphur mushrooms, grows on oak wood in summer and fall. The mushrooms are yellow-orange in colour and grow in round, flowerlike clusters. Toadstool mushrooms have a strong, fermented scent and grow on trees, including oak, in summer and fall. The white caps turn brown as the mushrooms mature but the flesh is white.
The honey mushroom is a parasite that lives on oak trees. Honey mushrooms, which are present in late summer and early fall, are edible for some people and animals. Other people who ingest honey mushrooms may experience nausea. At times, honey mushrooms are capable of having a friendly, mutual relationship with trees. As the population of honey mushrooms increases, they become more parasitic in nature and begin competing with other plant life for nutrients.
The poisonous flu amanita mushroom is one of many toxic mushrooms that grow around oak trees. The stems are reddish-orange, the caps yellow and orange in colour. Toxic Jack-o-lantern mushrooms, which are bright orange and look like large flower blossoms, grow on decayed tree roots and oak tree stumps. Destroying angel mushrooms are all white and look very innocent but they are deadly poisonous. Destroying angel grows around oak trees and forested areas from July to October.
The most expensive mushrooms in the world are probably truffles, which only grow around the roots of certain trees, including oak. Trained pigs and dogs are used by truffle farmers to find the rare, costly mushrooms that appear in culinary dishes.
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- Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet; Wild Mushrooms; C. Wayne Ellett
- A Cook's Mushroom Miscellaney; Wild About Mushrooms, Part 4; Dr. Harry Thiers
- Natural Eating: Wild Mushrooms
- American Mushrooms; Basics; David Fischer
- Discover Magazine; The Biology of . . . Truffles; Robert Kunzig; November 2000
- Fairfax County Public Schools: Honey Mushroom