Explore the wondrous world of fungi! Join Harvard students for a closer look at the mushrooms, yeasts, and molds found in gardens, forests, labs—even in our own refrigerators. This popular annual event turns virtual this year, featuring videos created by Harvard students. Join the webinar to participate in live conversation in response to student projects. Be prepared to see fungi in a whole new way!
Having been a member of the Ohio Mushroom Society for 45+ years I have encountered some remarkable folks. Here are some examples.
There was the dousing lady. She had a medallion on a string and was testing mushrooms on the foray display tables. If the medallion swayed, she considered the mushroom was good for her. Fortunately, she was not eating them based on this determination!
Then there was a barefoot young man who announced after he got in a carpool, that there might be an odor as he seldom showered. Some months later he was looking for OMS references after being arrested for possession of a controlled substance in Montana.
One of my favorite people stories was a phone call. I did not know the man. He was interested in finding Gymnopilus spectabilis, a hallucinogenic species. He wanted to join me in observing it in the woods. I told him that I knew a couple logs where I had found it in the past and that I could contact him if I saw it again. Then he said he wanted to collect it under the light of the full moon! Don’t call me, I’ll call you. This man later became a prominent Amanita muscaria afficionado at the Telluride Mushroom Festival.
I have met two savant boys. One questioned me about a Cordyceps species. It soon became apparent to me that he knew as much or more about Cordyceps than me. As an adult mycologist he has written a book and travels extensively studying fungi. The other would be in the front row when I was giving a talk around the display tables. His questions were hardly that of a child and his interest was intense. A couple years later he is giving mushroom slide programs to adult audiences.
My first mushroom program was at Mill Creek Park in Youngstown. I brought an Amanita muscaria as an example of a common poisonous mushroom. I probably exaggerated its toxicity a bit. One man in the audience stepped up and in front of the crowd and took a bite of the cap. So much for my credibility. I doubt that he ate enough to poison him, but it was a learning experience for me. The next day a woman went to the park office with a bag of Amanita muscaria. She had washed the warts off the all the caps, and wanted to confirm that this was the mushroom I showed as a good edible. So much for stressing how toxic it is. Some people hear what they want to hear. Most mushroom hunters are good people and overall are an interesting group. I have made many good friends in mycological circles. As in any pursuit, it takes all kinds.
This should have been our Mushroom of the Month post for October but I’ve “FALL-en” behind, whoops! In any case, enjoy these polypores dressed in their autumn finest, as captured by Pete Richards. We think they’re Ischnoderma resinosa, but feel free to chime in in the comments if you have other ideas.
Look for an entertaining blog post from Walt Sturgeon next week!
If you’re starting to turn your attention from outdoor mushroom hunting to things you can do with fungi indoors, here’s a great online learning opportunity!
On November 9 at 7:30 PM (EST), Jeremy Umansky of the Ohio Mushroom Society will tell us about koji, a fascinating filamentous fungus (Aspergillus oryzae), that adds umami to just about any food. Best of all, Jeremy will show us how to make it at home. Wait until you see how beautiful it is!
Jeremy is co-author, with Rich Shih, of Koji Alchemy: Rediscovering the Magic of Mold-Based Fermentation (Chelsea Green,2020). He is also a James Beard Award-nominated chef and chef/owner of Larder: A Curated Delicatessen & Bakery in Cleveland, Ohio.
This event is for NAMA (North American Mycological Association) members only, so if you haven’t joined yet, now’s a good opportunity to do so. As an OMS member, you can get a $5 discount on your membership.
Mount Pisgah Arboretum, located in Eugene Oregon, is hosting a virtual foray this Sunday October 25th. There will be 8 hours of mushroom-centric programming streamed to viewers, including presentations from leading experts in the field of mycology, mushroom cooking demos, mushroom forays, live Q&A with experts, music, an iNaturalist Mycoblitz, and so much more ~ all for free!
Mount Pisgah Arboretum’s Mushroom Festival has decades of tradition and has evolved over the years to bring family fun and education in creative and innovative ways to our local community. This year, we are excited to bring our first-ever virtual version of our mushroom festival to our local community and beyond.
What: Mount Pisgah Arboretum with Cascade Mycological Society and Lane Community College present the 2020 Virtual Mushroom Show! When: Sunday, October 25th, from 10 am to 6 pm PST (that’s 1 pm to 9 pm EST) Where: Check out all streaming locations on our website at www.mountpisgaharboretum.org/virtual-mushroom-festival/
My wife and I have a summer place in western Maine where we usually spend three weeks in July or August. One of our favorite activities is going on mushroom hikes. It is always interesting to see what we find there that is familiar because we see it here in Ohio, and what is different. Some hikes reward us with a taste treat – usually chanterelles, or sometimes black trumpets.
This year we are not going to Maine because of COVID-19, and there are few mushrooms around here because of the extreme dryness. This leaves me little to do as a mycophile except think about past finds, protect myself in the present, and speculate about the future.
There are good reasons to expect the mushrooms in our area of Maine to be similar to those here. The climate is not drastically different, and many of the same trees occur in both places – oaks, maples, beeches. Many of the same Russulas and Lactarius occur in both places; as do several of the Amanitas; the Sulfur Shelf Laetiporus sulphureus; and boletes like Old Man of the Woods Strobilomyces sp., several Suillus species, etc.
There are also important differences. Oberlin, where I live, is notorious for its clay soils, which are underlain by sandstones and shales. Our area of Maine is part of the older Appalachian Mountain range, an area of rocky not-quite mountains built of metamorphic and igneous rocks, often with a rather thin mantle of soil on top. The area I know best, right around our cabin, is an island, a glacial sand deposit with fine old trees, mostly white and red pines and paper birches, species which are not common around my part of Ohio. Not surprisingly, the mushrooms that I see there but not here are often ones that are associated with these trees and the rather acid soil they produce. Polypores like Fomitopsis betulina, Fomes excavatus, and Phellinus gilvus, the strange bolete Meiorganum curtisii and the fuzzy-stemmed agaricale Tapinella atromentosa are obligate saprobes or parasites of these trees. Some other species I have seen in Maine but not in Ohio are Amanita frostiana, A. jacksonii, Cortinarius semisanguineus, Hypomyces lactifluorum, and Turbinellus floccosus. Undoubtedly some of these occur some places in Ohio, but I was not looking in the right place at the right time.
Things are changing on our little island in Maine. The forest canopy is dominated by the pines and birches, but they are gradually dying and are not replacing themselves. The understory is mostly Red Maple, Red Oak, and American Beech. In 50 years, these will be the mature trees, and with the change of trees will come a change in the mushroom assemblage. The island will be much more like Ohio, both in its trees and in its mushrooms.
Ohio is also changing, and with it the rest of the Midwest and beyond. Old growth forests are rare and gradually being lost. Most striking to me is the almost complete loss of major tree species, one after another, to attacks by insects and insect-borne pathogens imported from overseas. First was the American Chestnut, felled by the Chestnut Blight (a fungus) introduced from East Asia in the first half of the 20th century. It was followed by the American Elm, victim of the Dutch Elm Disease (also a fungus, carried by elm bark beetles) in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The Emerald Ash Borer has decimated populations of our many native ash species. Now we watch to see if hemlocks can survive the Hemlock Woolly Adelgids. With the loss or drastic reduction of each of these trees, mushroom species that are associated with them are also lost or made rare, though some fortunately are associated with more than one host species. Examples are the “yellow” morels and oyster mushrooms associated with elms; the Ash Bolete, Boletinellus meruloides; and Ganoderma tsugae, a polypore associated with hemlock. I found no information about fungi associated with American Chestnut, though undoubtedly there were some.
Trees and their ecosystems have evolved for hundreds of millions of years, countless species have gone extinct, and their niches havce been re-occupied by other species. But our intercontinental commerce and mobility and an insufficiently strong ecological ethic have increased the rate of extinctions far beyond what natural evolution can replace. Unfortunately, the future seems destined to be characterized by reduced diversity of all forms of life.
I had not intended this to wind up with such a negative perspective, but there it is. We must appreciate the diversity of life that we have available to experience, and preserve it as well as we can. Love your mushrooms!
Congratulations to OMS Board Member Bob Antibus, who now has a trail access named after him by the Johnny Appleseed Metro Park District, for whom Bob has served as Park Commissioner for the last 27 years! This impressive sign is in a small park that provides an access point to the Miami-Erie Canal Towpath Trail. (The park will eventually have trails but is now wooded.) If you happen to be biking or walking in the Lima, OH area you can find it at 12335 Zion Church Rd, roughly midway between Spencerville and Delphos.
An honor much deserved! Isn’t it great to see Bob and Joanne’s lovely faces in this time of separation?
We hope you weren’t pinning too many of your hopes on our July mini forays; as anxious as we are to get back to hunting together, it seems July is the wrong month to do it in. Please click over to the Events page for another update on our foray calendar, and stay hydrated and healthy out there!
On a brighter note, the next issue of the Mushroom Log newsletter will be forthcoming very soon! Here’s a photo of a pristine Laetiporus cincinnatus from 2019 to tide you over.