, Volume 62, Issue 3, pp 356-375
Date: 23 Oct 2008

California Porcini: Three New Taxa, Observations on Their Harvest, and the Tragedy of No Commons1

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Abstract

California Porcini: Three New Taxa, Observations on their Harvest, and the Tragedy of No Commons. Seven species of California porcini (Boletus, sect. Boletus) are recognized, including three new taxa that are culturally and economically significant: B. rex-veris sp. nov., B. regineus sp. nov., and B. edulis var. grandedulis var. nov. The three new taxa have been intensively gathered during the last century by Italian immigrants, and B. rex-veris sp. nov. more recently by southeast Asian immigrants as well as by long-time rural residents. B. rex-veris sp. nov. is restricted to inland mountains while the other two are widely distributed, and are abundant in California’s heavily populated coastal zone. In the 1990s, reflecting the preservationist policies of mainstream environmental organizations, many park authorities and land management agencies in coastal California closed public lands to mushroom gathering. Organized attempts to establish legal, limited gathering in a few parks were almost entirely unsuccessful. The result is that it is illegal to pick porcini on nearly all public lands over a 6,000-square-mile area, even though they grow prolifically in coastal California. Many of coastal California’s porcini are picked anyway by those willing to risk being apprehended and fined. In response to the official intolerance for mushroom gathering, an entire generation of mushroom hunters has grown up practicing the activity in secret.