Hericium mushrooms are one of the subtle signs of annual change in the Los Padres National Forest. When they sprout from their woody hosts it signifies the return of the rainy season.
For 51 weeks the hericium hunter patiently awaits the first rain showers of the season, which trigger the short-lived growth of the “Lion’s Mane” mushroom. If the first rain comes early, however, so too will the mushrooms, but sometimes the wait is longer than a year.
There is but a fleeting window of opportunity, about a week or so depending on weather, to harvest hericiums in their prime before they begin to turn woody and then rot. Then, typically, they do not grow again until the next season. It is a rare treat.