Mushroom foraging in the Sierra Norte

With each and every visit, the Sierra Norte blows my mind...

I recently wrote about my experience riding in the Sierra Norte with friends from New Mexico, over at Bikepacking.com.

And this weekend, Emma and I headed up for a couple of nights camping on the San Pablo Etla side of the mountain. Although the ride there is never less than a stout one – there’s a solid 1600m of elevation gain – the intention was more for poking around the area and reflecting on its phenomenal biodiversity than accruing miles. As a result, we didn’t ride any bonus trails in Ixtepeji, but instead went for a hike up to Cerro San Felipe and bimbled around on the bikes.

On the first night, we camped on a ridgetop tucked to the side of a minor forest road and on the second, we shuffled our home to a clearing a little to the northwest, close to a spring we know about.

This darker than dark mushroom is called a Horn of Plenty… otherwise known as the Black Trumpet…

A parasitic Leafy brain. Felt rather like a newborn baby’s ear to the touch…

Filled a stem full of ‘False’ Chanterelles. These Chanterelle wannabes aren’t said to be as nutty as the real thing. But we thought they tasted good.

As yet to be identified. Known simply as the ‘nipple mushroom’ for now…

Early morning mushroom shadow!

A Caesar’s mushroom. Edible.

Left to right… top to bottom…

  • Unknown tiny mushroom lurking amongst the lichen
  • Giant puffball
  • Bas’ Caesar
  • Violet wood sorrel
  • Common bonnet
  • Summer oyster mushroom
  • Gentian sage
  • Phlebodium, a species of fern
  • Unknown

We’re now well and truly in the rainy season and as a result, the mushrooms are popping! In fact, within a couple of minutes wander from Camp Spot 1, Emma spotted at least a dozen species, including an especially magnificent corral mushroom. To celebrate such abundance, we watch Fantastic Fungi on the phone.

Tigridia Orthantha

Not to be outdone, ferns were unraveling in every which direction too, and after the evening entertainment at Camp Spot 2 – a massive storm that rolled in and clapped loudly in our ears – we came across a vast grove of flowering Tigridia Orthantha that had been hiding from us just the day before. Apparently, these high elevation irises are very rare, newly discovered, and endemic to Guatemala and Mexico. Score!

Corral mushroom. Edible. These are said to be highly sought after and fetch quite the price in the local market.

In the morning, we cooked up some chanterelles. Or at least, we thought they were. Further research revealed they were ‘false chanterelles’. Still, they were still good to eat!

Breakfast. Served with sourdough from Boulenc. Maybe it was the sun dappling through the forest foliage and the birds are a chirpin, but it all tasted especially good.

On the last day, we worked our way down a series of trails, stopping for photos and more orchid and mushroom-spotting. It was late afternoon before we dropped in on some friends in San Pablo Etla, finally splish-splashing through puddles into town at nightfall. Not a huge mileage, admittedly, but a trip that served to deepen (yet more) my appreciation for this area.

Govenia utriculata, a species of orchid found throughout Latin America.

Left to right… top to bottom…

  • Fruticose lichen
  • Unknown
  • Velvet foot? Funeral bell?
  • Violet wood sorrel
  • Unknown

On the descent, before dropping onto the final singletrack flurry to San Pablo Etla, we spotted a golden chalice vine.

Oh yes, and the riding was pretty great too…

Photos taken mostly with a Fuji x100v. Otherwise, a Fuji XT-2 with 35mm 1.4.

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