Oregon Public Broadcasting

Mushroom gatherers set out in Oregon forests Tuesday for the first day of Matsutake season.

Matsutake gathering in the National Forests is by permit only. In the Deschutes, Willamette, Fremont-Winema and Umpqua National Forests, those permits range from $24 for a three-day permit to $200 for the entire season.

Still, many are willing to pay that fee, thanks to the high price the mushrooms are known to fetch on the open market.

Dan Luoma is a professor at Oregon State University. His specialty is Forest Mycology. That's the study of fungi. And when it comes to the Matsutake, he's a fan.

"Its flavor has been described as a cross between cinnamon red hots and dirty socks. That doesn't necessarily sound all that appealing, but it's just a unique flavor and aroma profile that myself and many, many other people find really appealing," said Luoma.

Luoma recommends anyone new to mushroom picking might want to first head out with someone who's more experienced. Not all mushrooms are edible. Some are poisonous.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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