Shroom boom: the hunt is on as California rains fuel a mushroom explosion

Unusual weather has created the ideal conditions for fungus, delighting foragers and researchers

On a sun-dappled trail in the woods of Calabasas, Jess Starwood narrows her eyes and gasps with glee. Scrambling up a leafy hillside, she points to a small hump in the ground, covered in leaf litter. “That’s a shrump,” she says – a mushroom hump, where a mushroom may be pushing up the ground as it emerges.

There were times when Starwood, an author, naturalist and foraging guide, would walk this trail and consider herself lucky to find even one mushroom. Today, on one of the hikes she regularly leads, we uncover nearly 50 mushrooms of 10 different species pushing up through the ground, growing out of damp logs, or springing from the dark earth.

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