Colorado Oyster Mushrooms!

by Graham on April 21, 2011

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Now that we have received our spring rains, the Colorado mushroom season has begun. I have seen quite a few Coprinus comatus around the city, but if you look in your local riparian areas you may come across the infamous oyster mushroom, Pleurotus pulmonarius in most cases, growing on dead or dying deciduous trees and stumps. Pleutotus pulmonarius is the most common species in lower elevations, favoring cottonwood trees. Colorado also has a couple other species, Pleurotus populinus probably being the next most well known. It is found growing on aspen and has more delicate ‘shelves’. Another species, Pleurotus dryinus has also been found in Colorado. It is usually has less of a clustering habit, longer and larger stems, a mostly centrally attached stem and a very distinctive cap. All oyster mushrooms have a very distinctive shape, sometimes growing in fans that are shaped closely to an oyster shell. They also are known to have a slight shellfish odor, making the common name ‘oyster mushroom’ very fitting.
To make sure you have a Pleurotus species take a spore print. Put a mature mushroom cap on a piece of white paper and with your finger, moisten the cap with a little bit of water. Then put a glass over top of it to reduce air flow around the cap so the spores fall off of the gills and onto the paper. Leave it over night until the next morning. You should be left with a gray or gray/lilac spore print.
James and I have been finding quite a few oysters out already, as the weather is permitting them to fruit. They are just beginning as most of the logs we know have large amounts of mushrooms have yet to show major signs of fruiting. Nonetheless, there are still pounds of mushrooms already out and ready for picking!
Below is a gallery featuring some of the oyster mushrooms we have found in the past few days. Bert, the newest member of Amateur Mycology is shown above with a particularly large cluster of Pleurotus pulmonarius I found on a cottonwood stump yesterday in Boulder. He brought us to a couple other oyster mushroom spots as that were very interesting! Stay tuned for an Amateur Mycology Video Magazine episode featuring our early oyster hunts!
P.S. No morels seen yet, but we will keep you posted. Still to early.

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Jeff April 17, 2013 at 1:04 am

Hey, I live in Colorado and am interested in growing oyster mushrooms. I was wondering if you guys have any advice or know someone that i can speak to. I have grown them with a lot of success on the east coast but hear it is much different here.
Thanks for any help


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