Mushroom season in the Carpathians
08 September 2022
Every true fan of mushroom foraging should at least once visit the slopes of the main Ukrainian mountains. You can pick mushrooms in the Carpathians in almost every corner of these protected areas. If the weather is favorable, then the first harvest is sent at the end of May, but the real «hunting season» lasts from mid-August to the end of September.
Where to look for harvest?
A mushroom picker who came here from abroad is always interested in where in the Carpathians it is better to pick mushrooms. If you are visiting for the first time, ask the locals for advice. They love their land badly and will not refuse you with help of discovering the forest and mountains better. It is nice if one of the locals agrees to become your guide because mushroom hunting in the Carpathians is such an exciting activity that it will be easy enough to get lost. In addition, experienced Carpathian mushroom pickers will not let you try something poisonous.
It is quite difficult to guess where exactly the mushroom season in the Carpathians will be the most bountiful this year. But no matter where you go: to Zakarpattya and Synevyr, to the Skolіvskі Beskidy, to the Kryvopilskyi pereval, or to the Polonyna Hrybna, which is not far from Dzembronia, you can be sure that nature will generously endow you.
Dressing up and getting ready
To enjoy the mushroom season in the Carpathians, you need to prepare at least marginally.
- Wear light, lightweight, and comfortable clothing. Even in summer, it is preferable that the arms and legs are completely covered: repellents do not always help against mosquitoes and other bloodsuckers.
- Wear special high-top hiking shoes or boots. Light sneakers for hiking in the forest are not suitable — they will not save your feet from sharp branches and will not protect you from a viper’s bite.
- Download offline maps to your smartphone: you can lose the Internet signal at any time. If you are planning a long trip, it will not be redundant to even print out a map of the area.
- Knife and basket. It is impossible to put mushrooms in a bag or bucket because this can lead to a chemical reaction. Twisting with a root or pulling mushrooms out of the ground is also not recommended.
- Thick raincoat. The Carpathians love to surprise, including sudden weather changes.
- First aid kit. In addition to the usual pills for headaches and stomach pain, be sure to stock up on an antiseptic, band-aid, or bandage.
- The stock of food, drinks, and matches. Even if you don’t plan to get lost, it’s best to pack a little more supplies than you’ll need for the trip.
What to put in the basket?
According to scientists, the Carpathian mushrooms are represented by at least 300 species. Among them are edible, conditionally edible, and poisonous. Very often there are twins: russula, champignons, honey mushrooms. Experienced mushroom pickers can only collect them.
The king of the Carpathian mushrooms is rightfully considered porcini, or boletus. Experience shows that the best places to look for it are forested areas of coniferous trees or beech. However, the time of picking mushrooms also affects: if we are talking about the summer months, then the boletus will prefer low-lying areas of the forest. Here it can be found until mid-September. Later the royal mushroom rises a little higher into the mountains and chooses places where the young growth meets the old forest. If the weather is warm and rainy, then for a mushroom hunt in the second half of October it is better to go to a dense old spruce forest or even try to get to the highlands, where mighty oaks and age-old hornbeams grow.
Under favorable climatic conditions, the season of porcini mushrooms in the Carpathians lasts from the beginning of summer to the end of October. Experienced mushroom pickers know that autumn porcini mushrooms, unlike summer ones, are always of better quality. It practically does not get spoiled by worms; therefore, any of your finds at this time of the year can be safely put in the basket.
If you are not concerned about finding exclusively porcini mushrooms and plan to collect different mushrooms, the Carpathians are exactly what you need. You will not find such a variety anywhere else in Ukraine. The inveterate mushroom hunter will be pleased with the orange-cap boletus with red caps that grow on bright areas of the slopes among young aspens and birches, champignons in intermountain valleys, honey mushrooms in dense thickets, and ubiquitous chanterelles.
Following the rules
When going to the green slopes for mushrooms, you should remember the basic rules for collecting them.
- Stay away from busy highways and industrial enterprises. The ideal place is the Carpathians, mushrooms grow here in pristine purity.
- Take only mushrooms you know. A fan of mushroom hunting with little experience should pay more attention to tubular species, and lamellar ones, among which there may be deadly pale grebe and fly agaric mushrooms, are best left to grow. You should not shoot down and destroy mushrooms you don’t know — everything in nature is beneficial and useful.
- It is better to cut the mushroom you have found or carefully unscrew it from the mycelium, and not pull it out of the ground.
- Put lamellar and tubular types in different containers.
- Don’t pick more than you can process in a short time — mushrooms go bad pretty quickly.
Many are interested in when the mushroom season starts in the Carpathians? No one will name the exact date. It all depends on the climatic conditions that take place this particular year, but locals say that if you visit the mountains in early autumn, this will not be a mistake at all.
And most importantly, the nature of the Carpathian Mountains is so unique and amazing that whether the mushroom season will be bountiful or not, is not so important. Communication with nature and indescribable sensations from visiting these fabulous places will forever leave a mark on your memory.