It’s a brand new year!

By Debra Shankland

It’s a brand new year, and it’s possible that you’ve recently taken stock and perhaps decided to do some things differently.

Maybe you’ve resolved to learn a new skill, or sharpen an old one.  Getting more exercise sure wouldn’t hurt.  Maybe you’d like to spend more time with your family, or help your kids to find healthy ways to disconnect from their devices.  Maybe you’d like to meet some new friends.

Joining the Ohio Mushroom Society now can help you meet all of these goals, for just $15 a year.  A full year’s worth of benefits include:

  • Six issues of the Mushroom Log, the OMS newsletter
  • Receive advance notice of and participate in your choice of six – ten forays, including both major, multi-day forays
  • Participate in the Annual Dick Grimm Memorial Banquet
  • Take advantage of many learning opportunities with experts in identification, cultivation, and more
  • Receive a discount on membership in the North American Mycological Association

The Ohio Mushroom Society is the place for anyone to exercise their interest in mushrooms, whether those interests include identification, taxonomy, folklore, cultivation, cookery, crafts, photography, ecology, natural medicines, or just spending time in nature.  Beginners and experts are both welcome.

Questions?  Feel free to contact us!  Check the board members page to learn how.

January Mushrooms of the Month

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This gallery contains 10 photos.

Welcome to the January installment of Mushrooms of the Month. Note that “Mushrooms of the Month” refers to the mushroom photos which were submitted for publication in a given month, not necessarily that they are commonly found in that month. … Continue reading

December Mushrooms of the Month

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This gallery contains 9 photos.

Welcome to the December installment of Mushrooms of the Month. Agaricus campestris a.k.a. Meadow Mushroom by Thomas Sampliner Coprinus comatus a.k.a. Shaggy Mane by Thomas Sampliner Fomes fomentarius a.k.a. tinder fungus by Walt Strugeon Fomitopsis cajanderi by Walt Sturgeon Fomitopsis … Continue reading

Dick Grimm Memorial Banquet

By Debra Shankland

The Dick Grimm Memorial Banquet was held at the Mediterranean on 33 restaurant in Lancaster on Saturday, November 7 this year.  Twenty-five members gathered to reconnect and share stories before winter puts a temporary stop to foray activity.  Everyone was in good spirits, coming from all over the state to attend.

Following a tasty meal of freshly-prepared Greek, Mediterranean and Continental fare, Debra Shankland took a moment to recall Dick Grimm’s many contributions to our club and mycological study, and introduced our special guest for the evening, Dr. Shannon Nix of Clarion University.

Dr. Shannon Nix of Clarion University

Dr. Shannon Nix of Clarion University

After driving down from Clarion, PA, Dr. Nix delivered an excellent presentation on mushroom spore dispersal aptly titled, ‘The Great Escape’.  The visuals were stunning, and perfectly illustrated her discussion.  While the primary difference between Ascomycetes and Basidiomycetes is in how they produce spores, how those minute reproductive spheres travel may be active or passive.  Animal vectors, mushrooms creating their own small-scale “wind”, funicular cords that lasso nearby vegetation, and the sheer number of spores produced and released by different species were just a few details that made this a fascinating lecture.

Everyone went away with a shroomy door prize, some great, some small, but a wide variety of prizes were available for the choosing.  A major donor of the prizes was Karen Kelly, whom we miss since she has moved to Florida.  We thank everyone who donated prizes, and also Shirley McClelland for organizing the banquet.

It was a lovely evening.  We stayed late and went home smiling!

Respectfully submitted,
Debra

October Mushrooms of the Month

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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

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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

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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!