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United States Department of Agriculture Ecology and Management of
the Commercially Harvested
American Matsutake Mushroom

David Hosford, David Pilz, Randy Molina, and
Michael Amaranthus
Forest Service
Pacific Northwest
Research Station
General Technical
Report PNW-GTR-412 November 1997


DAVID HOSFORD is a professor, Department of Biological Science, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA 98926; and DAVID PILZ is a botanist, RANDY MOLINA is a research botanist, and MICHAEL AMARANTHUS is a research ecologist, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, 3200 Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331.
Cover—En route to retail markets, young mushrooms retain their freshness better than older ones. Before the veil between the cap and the stem breaks, they are considered "buttons," and if there is no other physical or insect damage, they are graded as "number 1's," and command the highest price at buying stations. The large, young American matsutake shown in the photograph are just beginning to lose value. The veils on these specimens are starting to separate from the cap and they might be demoted to grade 2, depending on market conditions and the discretion of the buyer. In areas that experience intensive harvesting, the financial incentive to collect immature mushrooms is the basis for concern about diminished reproductive success due to decreased spore dispersal. To address this concern, mushroom harvesters often intentionally disperse the spores of commercially defective mushrooms, land managers limit collection to certain times or areas, and scientists are studying the reproductive biology of the Tricholoma magnivelare. The inset drawing shows mushroom development and relative position to mycorrhizae in a soil profile (Hosford and Ohara 1990).


Hosford, David; Pilz, David; Molina, Randy; Amaranthus, Michael. 1997.
    Ecology and management of the commercially harvested American matsutake.
    Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-412. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture,
    Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 68 p.
The commercial harvest of American matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare) from forests in the Pacific Northwest has increased dramatically in the last decade. The similarity of this mushroom to the Japanese matsutake (T. matsutake) has prompted its harvest to meet increasing demands for matsutake in Japan. The American matsutake is likely to remain a sustainable forest product in North America if its harvest and forest habitats are managed appropriately. This summary paper begins by reviewing the historical importance of the Japanese matsutake, its declining production and harvest in Japan, the taxonomy of matsutake species worldwide, ecological research pioneered by the Japanese, and how Japanese forests are managed for matsutake production. Our discussion of the American matsutake begins with descriptions of its distribution, tree hosts, and commercially important habitats, which is followed by a case study of its ecology in central Washington. Next, we examine the social and economic context of its harvest in North America, as well as the biological, ecological and forest management issues that land managers must address to sustain its harvest. We conclude by discussing current matsutake research and monitoring activities in the Pacific Northwest and explaining the relevance of these activities for integrating the harvest of the American matsutake into forest ecosystem management plans.

Keywords: Matsutake (American), mushroom, forest management, mycology, fungi, mycorrhiza, special forest products, non wood forest products.

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Appendix- Common and Scientific Names

Harvest Method Effect and Recovery
Boswell The Buck
Breakfast and Dinner at the Boswell
Year Round In Season Buyers

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