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Posted on September 30, 2015 @ 05:30:00 AM by Paul Meagher
Last weekend I went on a mushroom foray that was put on by the local mushroom society. We walked through wooded areas as a group and collected specimens along the way. We didn't have to go off trail much to find different mushroom varieties as they were appearing on the sides of the trail.
After we collected lots of different types of mushrooms we came back and spent the evening identifying the genera and species categories the mushrooms belonged to. We had around 8 expert mushroom identifiers so they facilitated the process during the foray and after when we came back and broke out our mushroom field guides in an effort to identify them.
Of the 40-50 people in attendence there were around 10 professors so the foray attracts a large number of well-educated people along with many other interesting types of people.
The event started on friday night with a discussion of society finances and plans for next years foray and then we socialized with lots of mushroom-based food dishes, beer and wine. The next day was the mushroom foray for around 4 hrs and then time dedicated to identification in the evening. I frankly didn't participate too much in identifying what I had collected as it is a subtle art, I didn't have a good fieldbook, and I found interesting people to talk to.
On sunday morning the results were further organized into a table of mushroom species organized alphabetically by genera. The video below shows the final result of our efforts, but especially the activity of the experts. This final mode of organizing the knowledge helped me get a better sense of the relative abundance of different genera. The genera are the hooks I will need to use to identify mushrooms on my own. The final mushoom in this video is Animata Virosa or Destroying Angel which is innocent looking but the most deadly of mushrooms.
On the final day we had the opportunity to go out on another foray. This was attended by most of the experts and the hardcore mushroom amateurs. I and some others opted for some workshops on growing mushrooms and using mushrooms to dye fabrics. There was also a workshop on using a microscope to examine mushrooms.
A very interesting weekend in which I learned alot of new information and met alot of interesting people. I now find myself avoiding some mushrooms while I am mowing because I feel the need to try to identify it before I mow it down. These are some forest edge mushrooms and are often symbiotic with particular types of trees growing on the margins of the forest. Also, there is alot of rain in the forcast which is a bit of a drag but the needed moisture will also inflate the mushrooms currently existing as pre-formed primordia in the forest soils. The woods may become more target rich for a mushroom hunter in the next few days.
There are lots of business opportunities in the mushroom world in the form of mycoremediation, mycoforestry, growing/harvesting mushrooms, new medicines, dying fabrics, etc... Pauls Stamets is one of the great popularizers of the untapped potential of the fungi kingdom. You can follow some of his recent thoughts at fungi.net.
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