October Mushrooms of the Month


This gallery contains 10 photos.

Welcome to the October installment of Mushrooms of the Month. Boletus bicolor group a.k.a. the Two-colored Bolete by Thomas Sampliner Clitocybe nuda a.k.a. the Wood Blewit by Walt Sturgeon. Hygrophorus russula by Walt Sturgeon Hypholoma sublateritium a.k.a. Brick Cap mushroom … Continue reading

Fungi will change our world. Again.

By Bryan Lewis

It goes without saying that the biosphere as we know it depends on fungi. For instance, most vascular plants depend on symbiotic relationships with fungi to thrive (Mycorrhiza), and decomposer fungi help produce soil. Through these and other processes, fungi play a central role in life on earth. In a way, fungi already changed the world long ago.

More directly, we’ve learned how to use fungi for our own benefit over the years. That learning process is ongoing, and I’ll highlight a few exciting developments that are happening right now that I believe will fundamentally change our world again.

Of course many of us know and enjoy edible mushrooms, and foraging for mushrooms is an ancient atavistic pleasure. Brewing beer is another pleasurable use of fungi going back to our pre-history. Long ago we learned that some mushrooms have medicinal properties. You may have head of Otzi the ice man, who lived more than 5,000 years ago and was found carrying birch polypore mushrooms carefully threaded along a leather strap. The birch polypore mushroom has antibiotic and styptic properties.

In 1928, Scottish biologist Alexander Fleming returned from vacation to his lab full of petri dishes containing staph bacteria to find one dish contaminated.

A mold (fungus) was in that dish, and the mold was secreting a liquid that the staph bacteria could not survive in. By accident, Fleming made one of the most profoundly beneficial discoveries in the 20th century; that the fungi penicillin produced antibiotic compounds, later made into medicines that would save hundreds of millions of people.

Clearly, we have a deep collective experience of learning how to benefit from fungi. But like so many things today, that ancient and primitive knowledge and experience has been synthesized and industrialized. It’s still beneficial on the whole, but sadly removed from our immediate awareness.

Meanwhile many face serious problems of pollution, lack of clean water, and lack of affordable access to medicine. Here in Ohio we’ve seen toxic algal blooms that stem from agricultural runoff threaten clean water supplies in both lake Erie and the Ohio River. Many in the third world suffer from cholera, typhoid, and other terrible diseases for lack of clean water and access to antibiotics. Plastics that take centuries or longer to decompose are polluting oceans on a planetary scale.

A vanguard of mostly young, enthusiastic and entrepreneurial innovators are using fungi to help address these serious problems. I believe that their efforts, or similar ones, will profoundly improve our world by successfully addressing these problems in the near future.

This summer at the West Virginia annual summer foray we saw Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain give an amazing talk on his current research into low-tech production of narrow-spectrum antibiotics that someday could help third world countries like Haiti get a handle on bacterial disease and water contamination. Despite the cheap, low-tech production methods, Tradd’s lab and research methods are decidedly high-tech and directly inspired by Fleming’s original penicillin research. Mushroom Mountain is really a bio-tech startup!

Tradd and others like Ja Schindler of Fungi for the People and Ty Allchin are refining state of the art methods of mycoremdiation: using fungi to restore or generally clean up habitats. For instance, placing beds of robust species like the wine cap mushroom on the downslope margin of farm fields might be an effective mycofiltration system to prevent excess fertilizer runoff from entering our streams, rivers and lakes. This might be a cheap, natural way to prevent toxic algal blooms.

Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre of Ecovative are pioneering ways to make durable packaging material from fungi. And they’re working on training varieties of fungi to consume agricultural waste. They literally make plastic from garbage. Their materials are already replacing polystyrene and other plastics with natural, decomposable materials that come from and return to the soil.

These are just a few highlights of a long list of amazing ideas and recent innovation centered around fungi. It only takes a few of these ideas to succeed to bring about large positive changes to our world, a world shaped in surprisingly many ways by fungi.

September Mushrooms of the Month


This gallery contains 5 photos.

Welcome to the September installment of Mushrooms of the Month. Boletellus projectellus by Walt Sturgeon Hericium americanum by Walt Sturgeon Hericium coralloides by Walt Sturgeon Lycoperdon pyriforme a.k.a. Stump Puffball by Walt Sturgeon Suillus grevillei a.k.a. Larch Bolete by Walt … Continue reading

August Mushrooms of the Month


This gallery contains 5 photos.

Welcome to the August installment of Mushrooms of the Month. Armillaria mellea a.k.a. Honey Mushrooms by Walt Sturgeon Harrya chromapes a.k.a. Yellowfoot Bolete by Walt Sturgeon Humidicutis marginata by Walt Strugeon Hydnum repandum a.k.a. Hedgehog Mushroom by Walt Sturgeon Hygrophoropsis … Continue reading

Poisoned by an Edible Mushroom?

By Debra Shankland

A friend who is somewhat new to collecting and eating wild mushrooms, and who is wisely cautious in this endeavor, recently passed along to me a couple scientific articles reprinted from journals. I found one article very typical in that it examined issues of mushroom poisoning related to misidentification. But another article proved fascinating!

Titled “Edible mushroom-related poisoning: A study on circumstances of mushroom collection, transport, and storage,” it was published in Human and Experimental Toxicology 2015, Vol. 34(7) 718-724. Authors Gawlikowski, Romek and Satora examined the files of 457 adult patients admitted to Krakow’s Department of Clinical Toxicology with wild mushroom poisoning from 2002 to 2009.

That the amanita species (A. phalloides group) were responsible for most of the toxic species poisonings was a yawner. But this statistic made me sit up straight: out of the 457 cases of mushroom poisoning examined, 400 were caused by EDIBLE species. That’s 87.53%! Why? Incorrect processing after harvest.

Something as simple as using a plastic bag, as opposed to a basket and perhaps waxed paper, to hastily collect and store a serendipity find. Something like neglecting the weekend’s harvest until Tuesday. Something like taking Sunday’s yummy leftovers to work for lunch on Wednesday.

That’s right. We’ve all dabbled with danger. Some have tales to prove it. Some may have no idea where their ‘tummy ache’ came from at the time…

Of those 400 edible species poisonings, the main culprit was long-term (2 days or more) storage of prepared mushroom dishes. This was followed by collecting and storing wild-collected mushrooms in plastic bags, storing freshly-collected mushrooms for 2 days or more, high ambient temperatures during harvesting (that’s 77 degrees F or more), or keeping them in the car or campsite at 77 degrees or more for more than 3 hours, or just eating old and beat-up mushrooms.

Please, folks, food poisoning is serious! Now that August is here, high temperatures combined with high humidity is a given. This is a bad combination for collecting wild berries and wild mushrooms. It’s best to overlook that “motherlode” you spied on your way to work unless you can care adequately for such a gift from nature. Practice restraint when in the field, and only take what you can process quickly. No need to be greedy–leave some mature and perhaps overmature specimens where they grow to complete their natural purpose.

Harvest and treat wild mushrooms like the treat they truly are. Take only what you will use today, give your harvest the best of care, double-check the identity, and promptly freeze or use leftovers.

Don’t be poisoned by edible mushrooms!


July Mushrooms of the Month


This gallery contains 7 photos.

Welcome to the July installment of Mushrooms of the Month. Amanita flavoconia a.k.a. yellow wart by Walt Sturgeon Amanita parcivolvata by Walt Sturgeon Gyroporus castaneus a.k.a. the Chestnut Bolete by Walt Sturgeon Lactarius corrugis by Walt Sturgeon Lactarius hygrophoroides by … Continue reading

July is Chanterelle Month in Ohio

By Walt Sturgeon

Well, the season can last into September and may start in June but July is usually the best month to search out most of these popular edibles. Searching can be very easy as some species are really common.

Cantharellus cibariusCantharellus cibarius

Cantharellus is the genus of true chanterelles but this article will include a Craterellus species as well. Cantharellus species in Ohio are firm and solid. They are convex to slightly funnel shaped. They lack sharp edged gills on their underside and instead have blunt edge “gills” or may be wrinkled to almost smooth. The most famous species is Cantharellus cibarius which is the name used in most field guides. Well, as with many mushrooms there turn out to be several species hiding under this name. The true Cantharellus cibarius is thought not to occur in North America. Matthew Foltz used DNA sequencing to identify three separate but similar cibarius-like species growing within 65 feet of one another in Wisconsin. There are no doubt more out there waiting to be named. No doubt all have been consumed and enjoyed by many. It may turn out that some have better flavor than others but until we know who’s who and what’s what, that is a question for another day. So let’s consider them all as the Golden Chanterelles, Cantharellus cibarius complex. Colors range from egg yolk yellow to orange to salmon or pinkish. Size varies but fist sized is about right, give or take an inch or two. It has blunt edged gill like ridges on the underside. All chanterelles are thought to be mycorrhizal, that is symbiotic with trees or shrubs. So cultivating these tasty morsels has not been done successfully yet. In Ohio the most common host tree for Golden Chanterelles is hemlock. But the complex is also known to occur with beech, spruce and other trees. Like many other chanterelles, you may detect a fruity odor suggesting that of apricots. All Chanterelles tend to grow singly, in a scattered or gregarious manner. Clusters of more than two are rare. See Jack O Lanterns below.

Cantharellus lateritiusCantharellus lateritius

Much more common in Ohio is the Smooth Chanterelle which can often be found in large numbers in our hardwood forests. They are also abundant in lawn areas under oaks. As the name implies this species has a smooth to wrinkled underside. Some consider this species inferior to the Golden Chanterelle. I disagree. Both have the same odor and taste in my opinion. The Golden and Smooth Chanterelles are the target of most Chanterelle hunters. They are abundant and their colors and size make them easy to find. There is one problem though. Peak fruiting usually occurs in July or August. There are no frosts then to deter insects so protein in the form of fly larvae is often an issue. Toleration of these mini protein additions varies from person to person. Cutting the stem near the cap or cutting through the cap will reveal pin holes/tunnels which are an indication of the amount of infestation. I have never heard of the taste being affected or of anyone being sickened by these little pests.

They are versatile treats and can be simply stewed, fried or candied or pickled or used to flavor ice cream or vodka.

Cantharellus cinnabarinusCantharellus cinnabarinus

Cantharellus appalachiensisCantharellus appalachiensis

Smaller Chanterelles such the reddish Cinnabar Chanterelle and the brownish yellow Appalachian Chanterelle are edible but more effort is required to find enough for a decent side dish. Both of these species fruit under oak and beech at the same time as the larger Chanterelles. A tiny Chanterelle is Cantharellus minor. It would take many to make mouthful.

Craterellus fallaxCraterellus fallax

The thin fleshed Black Trumpet, Craterellus fallax is a really flavorful species. It usually grows in association with oaks and is another summer species. Its underside is not gill-like .The gray to tan colors make it hard to see unless it is found in moss which is a common substrate. In my opinion, this is one of the best summer edibles. It has a salmon colored spore color which can sometimes be observed on the underside. A white spored look alike is the edible Craterellus cornucopioides. If you find a black trumpet look alike with gill-like ridges you have Cantharellus cinereus. It is edible but bitter.

One popular chanterelle fruits later in the season, usually in September and October. The Yellow Foot or Winter Chanterelle prefers mossy boggy woods under hemlock. It is rather thin fleshed. It has yellowish brown to blackish brown caps. The underside has forking false gills which range from yellowish to grayish brown to violaceous. The stem is brownish to yellowish, becoming paler at the base. Its flavor is mild, a bit too subtle for my taste. But as the saying goes “There is no accounting for taste”. Try it. You might like it. OMS has had forays in SE Ohio where this has been the target species.

In closing there are two common possible lookalikes. Most serious is the orange Jack o Lantern, Ompahalotus illudens. It grows on wood (sometimes buried), is usually larger and typically grows in large clusters. It has sharp edged gills. Its gills are bioluminescent. The False Chanterelle is variously considered an inferior edible to slightly toxic mushroom. It has sharp edged gills and prefers woody humus. Its colors range from yellow to intense orange to brownish. It does not have a fruity odor.

Ohio Mushroom Society Tee Shirts Now Available!

Available for pre-order NOW!

By Jerry Pepera

It’s been quite some time since the OMS has offered a tee shirt for sale. The idea came up after long time members Mike Nagy and Karen Kelley hosted a tour of Case Western Reserve’s Mushroom Growing operation. After the tour, the group met at Karen Kelley’s house for a social gathering. It was there that Karen shared a great tee shirt idea based literally on the design of a mushroom themed napkin. After a quick approval by the board Karen and Cathy Pepera worked to develop the following artwork proof. The text will be featured on the front of the shirt and the logo will be on the reverse side with the background color of the shirt showing through the logo. We think it turned out fantastic!

OMS Tee Shirt 1

Karen Kelley had a few sample hoodies made up (shown below) which Cathy and I wore to the Indiana Morel and Music Festival in April. We had quite a few people comment that they loved the shirts and several people asked us if we had any for sale.

OMS Tee Shirt 2

OMS Tee Shirt 3

Note: The Hoodie in the above pictures does not reflect the actual shirt we will use. (The shirt shown was purchased separately and given to the screen printer just for the sample). Also, the shirt was made using an inkjet printer and is not nearly as vibrant as the actual shirts which will be silkscreened.

Our shirts are available for pre-order which we plan to have available for pick-up at the Summer Foray July 18-19 and the Fall Foray Oct 3-4. In order to guarantee delivery by the Summer Foray all orders must be received no later than July 5th. We will order extra shirts for sale but please note the ordering deadline is only a few weeks away if you want to be sure one is available in your size. We can also mail the shirt(s) to you for an extra fee.

The following shirt options are available:

Gildan Short Sleeve T Shirt (Serene Green)- $17 each. SM-XL ( $20 for 2XL )
Gildan Long Sleeve T Shirt (Serene Green) – $21 each. SM-XL ( $26 for 2XL )

OMS Tee Shirt 4

Hanes Zip-up Hooded Sweat Shirt (Vintage Khaki- PMS 7530, 80% cotton/20 % Poly) – $40 each. SM-XL ( $46 2XL )
OMS Tee Shirt 5

Shipping (Optional): $7

Note: Due to variations in computer displays the colors above may vary slightly from the actual product.

Please forward all orders to:

Jerry Pepera
8915 Knotty Pine Ln.
Chardon, OH 44024

Please make all checks payable to the Ohio Mushroom Society and indicate whether you want the shirts mailed. Unfortunately, our website is not setup to receive electronic payments so you can send me an email and then follow-up with payment in the mail.

Best Regards,


A PDF version of this announcement is available here.