2018 Summer Foray at Zaleski ODNR Complex – Updated Info

Summer Foray 2018 at Zaleski ODNR Complex

Dates:  July 14-15, 2018
Zaleski ODNR Complex in Vinton County; 29371 Wheelabout Rd, McArthur OH 45651
Foray Organizer:  
Martha Bishop, bishopm@ohio.edu (740) 593-4552

Please join us for our Summer Foray in the beautiful and diverse forests of southeastern Ohio.  We will again meet at the recently renovated Zaleski ODNR Complex, 29371 Wheelabout Road, McArthur, Ohio 45651.

We will feature nationally known mycologists Walt Sturgeon and John Plischke, III.  Walt will serve as chief identifier for the foray and John will present our featured talk:  Boletes of the Northeast and Beyond.  Both Walt and John are nationally recognized as expert identifiers of fungi, and both have won numerous awards for their fungal photographs

John Plischke, III is the author of Good Mushroom Bad Mushroom: Who’s toxic, Where to find them, and how to enjoy them safely, and Morel Mushrooms and Their Poisonous Look-alikes.  John is a founding member of the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club, and serves as Chair of the Photography Committee for the North American Mycological Association.

Walt Sturgeon has authored or co-authored and provided photographs for several popular mushroom books including Mushrooms of Ohio, Waxcap Mushrooms of Eastern North America, Mushrooms and Other Fungi of the West Virginia High Country, and has recently published Mushrooms of the Northeast with Teresa Marrone.  Walt serves as Awards Committee Chair for the North American Mycological Association.

July 14 (Saturday)

8:30-9:30 am.  Meet at Zaleski ODNR Complex for registration and coffee.  Please bring a reusable cup and a cash donation to cover costs of coffee, rolls, etc.

10:00 am. Forays will begin.  We will carpool to several different sites in the local hills.  Please bring hiking gear, mushroom basket, small pocket knife, water bottle, and whistle.

12:15 p.m.  We will have a potluck lunch, so please bring something to share.  Please bring your own iced cooler for items that require refrigeration, and a crockpot for items that must stay hot.  A small refrigerator, stove, microwave and electric outlets are available, however, please know that you will be responsible for all preparation and clean-up of your contribution.

Please bring your dish ready to serve with a label and ingredient list, and serving utensils.  Any wild mushrooms for consumption must be verified by expert collectors.  Please do not bring any home-canned foods.

1:45 p.m.   John Plischke, III will present:  Boletes of the Northeast and Beyond.  

John says:   “Boletes can be popular sought after mushrooms.”  He will discuss places to look for boletes, and the types of trees that they are found under.  He will also talk about bolete edibility, and bolete seasons, giving a few secret hunting tips, resourced to help with ID.

2:45 Afternoon forays depart from Zaleski ODNR complex.

5:30 p.m.  Table talk with explanation of the day’s collections.

6:30 p.m.  Dinner at The Lodge at Lake Hopehttp://lakehopelodge.com/directions/

See menus on their website:  http://lakehopelodge.com/menunew

Please RSVP to bishopm@ohio.edu or (740) 593-4552 if you plan to be here for dinner so that we can reserve adequate space. On Saturday morning we will have a final count for our reservation

July 15 (Sunday)

9:00 am.  Coffee and review of collected fungi.  Please bring a reusable cup and a cash donation to cover costs of coffee, rolls, etc.

Clean up and listing of collections.  Please help out if possible.

11:30 a.m.  Sunday foray.


Reserve your cabin or campsite at nearby Lake Hope State Park NOW!

1-866-644-6727 or http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/lakehope

Reservations will fill quickly.

Area hotels and other lodging for Athens, Ohio are listed at:   http://athensohio.com/category/wheretostay/

Please print out your driving directions in advance.  There is usually internet connectivity at the foray site, but connectivity may be intermittent in surrounding areas.

Check http://www.ohgo.com/dashboard/se-ohio for road conditions and flooding.  Please be aware that part of State Route 56 is closed between Athens and State Route 278 until at least July 13 for road construction.  You should be able to check the link above to determine whether the road will still be closed on the 14th.  There are alternative routes.

Here is a pdf copy of this announcement:

OMS Summer Foray 2018
















The Little Blue

By Walt Sturgeon

Mycena subcaeruleaMycena subcaerulea by Walt Sturgeon

Blue mushrooms are always a treat for the eyes and a pleasure to find. Perhaps the most famous is the Indigo Milk Mushroom, Lactarius indigo. Its deep blue and silver colorations are eye catching and as a bonus, it is edible. In the poroid fungi, Neoalbatrellus caeruleoporus has grayish blue caps. Terana caerulea is a dark blue crust fungus. Some Cortinarius have blue tones as well. Note the names all refer to the colors. Caerulea is blue in Latin and indigo is a shade of blue.

Mycena subcaeruleaMycena subcaerulea by Walt Sturgeon

The Little Blue is just that, a small blue mushroom. Its name is Mycena subcaerulea which I interpret as meaning almost blue. This is appropriate for this quickly fading mushroom. It is often overlooked or passed over because of its small size and colors at maturity and as being just another unidentifiable Mycena. In Eastern North America it fruits for a few weeks right after the morel season and then again in late summer. In Ohio it is most commonly observed in June.

Mycena subcaeruleaMycena subcaerulea by Walt Sturgeon

Look on decaying logs of broadleaf trees. Oak logs are a favored host. Its caps are about 2 cm. or less in width. When first emerging the buttons are a rich, blue color sometimes spectacularly set off by an aqua margin. In age the viscid caps fade to gray, greenish or brownish often with bluish tinted margins. The gills are white. The stem is powdery dusted and at its base look for bluish mycelium. Photographers hope to find this mushroom when the caps are still mostly blue. It is a tiny splash of color in the late spring woods.

Mycena subcaeruleaMycena subcaerulea by Walt Sturgeon

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.

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,

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.

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!


2015 Summer Foray at Ohio University

By Martha Bishop

Our Summer Foray will feature Dr. Michael Kuo. He is the author of several popular books about mushrooms, and has the excellent website: www.mushroomexpert.com

Kuo’s recent publication, “Taxonomic revision of true morels (Morchella) in Canada and the United States” (Mycologia 104: 1159-1177), describes 19 phylogenetic species of morels from North America, including 14 new species.

July 17 (Fri.)

7:00-9:00 p.m. Meet for dinner at Restaurant Salaam at 21 W. Washington St. See the menu on their website: Restaurant Salaam

 Parking is:

  1. On the street (meters must be paid Mon-Sat 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.)
  2. In the city parking garage (from Court St. turn right onto Washington St. and the garage is ½ block on the right.) This is 1½ blocks from Salaam.
  3. At Ohio University in the same lots we will use for the foray, 4 blocks away (see below). Or use this link to an interactive map of the city of Athens: Athens Ohio Map.
    Click on the By Nametab and type Salaam into the box. Then click on the knife and fork icon. It will give you directions from your location.

Please note that Union St. is one-way going east between Congress and Court St. Court St. is one-way going north. W. Washington is one-way going west between S. Shafer and N. High St. Congress St. is one-way going south between Carpenter and Union St.

Please RSVP if you know you will be here for dinner so that we can reserve adequate space. bishopm@ohio.edu or (740) 593-4552.

Come to dinner anyway if you can’t decide in advance, and you can be seated as space becomes available.

July 18 (Sat.)

8:30-9:30 am. Meet in room 300 Porter Hall for registration and coffee.

10:00 am. Forays will begin. We will go to several different sites in the local hills.

We will have a potluck lunch, so please bring something to share. Any wild mushrooms for consumption must be verified by expert collectors. Please do not bring any home-canned foods.

Michael Kuo will present: “The names, they are a changing: How taxonomic mycology works these days, and what you can do about it”

A non-technical discussion of the way mycologists determine what names to apply to species, as well as an encouragement for amateurs to help, as citizen scientists.

5:30 p.m. Table talk with explanation of the day’s collections.

6:30 p.m. Dinner at Lui-Lui restaurant.

See menus on their website: Lui-Lui Restaurant Menu

Please RSVP if you plan to be here for dinner so that we can reserve adequate space. On Saturday morning we will have a final count for our reservation.

July 19 (Sun.)

9:00 am. Breakfast at Porter Hall 300.

Review of collected fungi.

10:30 a.m. Sunday foray.

Information on parking at O.U.:

Since our event is taking place on a weekend (and after 5:00 p.m. on Friday) the dark green and purple lots on campus will be available for our free use. Signs at the entrance to each lot indicate lot color and number. A map detailing lot colors and locations can be accessed at: Ohio University Parking

Do not park in metered (unless you pay the meter) or restricted spaces within a dark green or purple lot on July 27-29, as these spaces are monitored. Lots 127,128 & 129 (surrounding Building 95, the

Convocation Center) are across Richland Ave. from Porter Hall (Building 86) to the south. Lot 134 is the closest dark gree/purple lot on the same side of Richland Ave. as Porter Hall, and is also to the south of Porter. Lot 120 which is the closest to Porter Hall has metered and disability permit spaces, but is not one of the free parking lots. We should be able to unload any large equipment from lot 120.

For the Saturday night dinner there is parking by the restaurant and we can park in lot 109 by Building 149 Life Sciences, if necessary.

Directions to Porter Hall:

From Columbus:

Take US-33 East to exit 17, the OH-682 exit. Turn right onto Richland Avenue at the traffic circle. Traffic already in the circle has the right of way. At the next light S. Shafer St. is to the left, and South Green

Drive is to the right. Lots 127, 128, and 129 are the first lots accessible from a left turn at the light, and are then immediately to the right. Lot 134 is accessible from a right turn onto South Green Drive at the same

light, and is the first lot on the left. To find lot 120, turn right at the light and then take the first street left which is Oxbow Trail. Lot 120 is the first lot on the left past lot 134.

From Marietta:

Take US-50 West to exit 17, the OH-682 exit. Follow directions above.

From Cincinnati:

Take OH-32 East to Athens, and merge onto OH-32 E/US-33 W/US-50 E via the ramp to Columbus/Belpre. Exit at OH-682 S. Plains Rd. Follow directions above.

From I-77, coming from the north:

Take exit 176 for US-50/7th St toward Downtown (0.4 mi.) Turn right onto US-50 W entering Ohio (10.2 mi.). Keep left at the fork, follow signs for US-50 W/OH-7 S/OH-32 W/Athens/Pomeroy and merge onto OH-32 W/OH-7 S/US-50 W and continue to follow OH-32 W/US-50 W (32.1 mi.). Take exit 17 to merge onto OH-682N, S. Plains Rd. toward OH-56/Athens. Follow directions above.

Directions for Friday night dinner at Restaurant Salaam:

Take the OH-682 exit as directed above. Turn right onto Richland Ave. at the traffic circle. Traffic already in the circle has the right of way. Turn left at the first light beside the large round Convocation Center,

Building 95. This is S. Shafer St. which curves to the right, and brings you to the first light at W. Union St. Turn right onto W. Union St. Take Union until it dead ends into Court St. Turn left onto Court St. and go to the next light. Turn left at the courthouse onto W. Washington St.. Salaam is ½ block on the left. To park in the city parking garage, turn right at the intersection of Court and Washington, rather than as above. The garage is ½ block on the right.

Directions for Saturday dinner at Lui Lui Restaurant:

From Porter Hall, go to the intersection of Richland Ave. and Shafer St. Turn onto Shafer St. and head west. The large, round Convocation Center should be on your right after you turn. Go to the first light at Shafer St. and Union St. Turn right onto Union St. Go 2 blocks to Depot St. Turn right onto Depot St., and go 1 block, merging right onto Station St. Lui Lui is in the first block of Station St. on the right.

There is parking by the restaurant and we can park in lot 109 by Building 149 Life Sciences, if the restaurant lot is full.   Or we can walk 5 minutes from Porter Hall.


Camping at Stroud’s Run State Park:

Fill out self-registration forms available at the entrance to the campground when you arrive, or register ahead on this website: Stroud’s Run State Park Registration. Up to six people may share a campsite. Cost per site is $19.00/night. Located at 11661 State Park Road, (off Stroud’s Run Road) Athens, Ohio 45701. Park information: (740) 592-2302, 1-866-644-6727. It’s a 15-20 min. drive to O.U.

Days Inn Athens:

They are offering us a group rate again, at $59.99+tax/ night. They are reserving 15 rooms for us, each with 2 double beds and 2 people/ room. Additional people up to 4/room can be added for $5.00/person. These rooms are non-smoking, but smoking rooms can be arranged for an additional $5.00. Rooms come with a mini fridge, coffee, microwave, iron, Cable TV, HBO included, and free Wi-Fi. Also complimentary continental breakfast beginning at 6am. Mention the Ohio Mushroom Society when you book your room, and register by June 30 for the group rate. Cancellations should be made 7 days in advance. They are located at 330 Columbus Rd., just off the Columbus Rd. exit on state route 33. Ten minute drive to O.U. (740) 593-6655.

Also all within 10 minutes of campus:

  • Super 8 Motel, 2091 E. State St. (740) 594-4900
  • Knights Inn, 997 E.State St. (740) 593-5565
  • Baymont Inn, 20 Home St. (740) 594-3000
  • Holiday Inn Express, 555 E. State St. (740) 592-4640
  • Hampton Inn, 986 E. State St. (740) 593-5600
  • Ohio University Inn, 331 Richland Ave. (740) 593-6661

Safety Reminders for the Eating of Spring Mushrooms

by Sharon Greenberg

Spring is here, and morel fever has many of us in its grip. Though I hate to be the “Debbie Downer” of the season, we all need an occasional reminder to pick and prepare those finds with the appropriate caution. Here are a few general reminders regarding the common spring mushrooms.

Morchella esculentoides

Morchella esculentoides

First on the list is the morel itself. One of the most beloved of all wild mushrooms, it should never be eaten raw or partially cooked.  Morels produce small amounts of hydrazine toxins. This toxin is heat-labile, meaning that it is destroyed with high temperatures produced during complete cooking. Also, be careful of where the morel is picked. For instance, morels found in old apple orchards that were treated with a now banned insecticide known as lead arsenate may have accumulations of lead and arsenic in their flesh. Morels found at old industrial sites would also be susceptible to having concentrations of heavy metals or other toxins. It has been reported that some people have reactions to the combination of alcohol and morels.

Gyromitra korfii

Gyromitra korfii

The mushroom most commonly misidentified for a morel would be a Gyromitra species. These are the so-called “false morels.” Experienced mushroomers are unlikely to mistake one for the other. But to an untrained eye they can look similar, especially if the growth is distorted. The best way to differentiate the two is to remember that any Morchella sp. will be completely hollow inside. Gyromitra sp have extra tissue inside, often looking like a cross section of a brain. I advocate that every morel for the pot should be cut in half lengthwise before consuming. This not only reaffirms the identification of a Morchella sp., but also roots out any critter that thinks that the hollow morel makes a great hiding place. Imaging the “yuck” factor associated with biting into a morel with a nice crispy centipede inside!

Gyromitra sp. produce a toxin called gyromitrin that is converted in the body to monomethyl hydrazine (MMH), which is a component of some rocket fuels. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, severe headaches, convulsions, and jaundice. Occasionally, it can cause coma or death, especially if consumed in large amounts. Some people claim that they can eat Gyromitra with no ill effects (some recommend odd or elaborate cooking techniques,) but there is too much risk to advocate eating them.

Verpa bohemica is also associated with low levels of the gyromitrin toxin. It is often called the “early morel” because it generally arrives 1-2 weeks prior to the true morels, and last throughout the true morel season. It can easily be confused with the half-free morels Morchella punctpes and Morchella populiphila. Verpa bohemica has a cap that is wrinkled, but hangs complete free of the stem, i.e. it is attached only at the top. The half-free morels have a cap that is attached to the stalk half way up the length of the cap. Again, cutting the mushroom in half is essential for complete identification. Verpa bohemica will have cottony wisps of tissue inside the stem. Morchella are completely hollow. To be fair, some people do eat Verpa sp. without problems. But others may experience GI upset or loss of muscular coordination. It is not known if the toxins will accumulate in the liver over time.

Morels and Lorchels

Morels and Lorchels

Finally, remember that some mushrooms that are usually found in the summer and fall may poke their heads out early. Be especially careful of Galerina marginata (previously G. autumnalis), commonly classified as a “LBM’s”. I recently found out that it can be found in the spring, when I thought we were safe from it. But no-o-o, this one sometimes arrives early, and it’s deadly! It is found growing on wood or buried wood. It has a brownish, sticky cap, a ring on the stalk, and yellowish to rusty-colored gills. The spore print is rusty brown. It can be confused with Flammulina velutipes (velvet foot,) and Armillaria mellea (honey mushroom.) Both of these can also be found year ‘round, but they have a white spore print.

Galerina marginata produces a toxin called amanatin.   The same toxins produced by some species of deadly Amanita. Symptoms of severe GI distress usually start six to twenty-four hours after ingestion, but then subside. The person will feel much better for about a day, and may even be discharged from a hospital. But, after another day or so, the liver and kidneys begin to fail with possible death from multi-organ failure or internal bleeding in three to four days. There is no antitoxin available, so depending on the type of care the person gets, there is a 10% to 50% chance of dying from this type of poisoning!

Don’t let “Morel madness” get the best of your common sense. Follow a few simple rules and you should be safe; always completely identify every mushroom that you eat; completely cook all wild mushrooms; eat only fresh, undecayed mushrooms; don’t eat mushrooms from possibly contaminated sites; and try not to consume too many at one time. If you have never tried a certain mushroom before, only eat a small amount, and wait at least 24 hours before ingesting any more of it. Some people have allergic reactions or other sensitivities to even the most common edibles.

Dick Grimm’s best advice was “If in doubt, throw it out!”  Always good words to heed.

Happy and safe hunting to all!

Sharon Greenberg

P.S. Here are some excellent on-line sites that give much more in-depth information.

Murder Most Foul

by Shirley McClelland

I have been an organic gardener for many years.  In the past I enjoyed selling produce at our local farmer’s market.


A while ago I reacted with surprise and dismay when I read an article in Horticulture magazine, “Fantastic Fungi”, by Peter Garnham. In it I learned that I have been committing microbial murder! Although I was aware that the soil life to sustain my plants depends upon bacteria, earthworms and beneficial nematodes, I never gave much thought to fungi. It turns out that fungi are the main decomposers of organic matter, thus hugely important to all of us that choose to “go organic”!  It is only after fantastic fungi have done their work can bacteria come in and break down organic material to a form that plants can use.
Here is how fungi help plants:  microscopically small filaments of fungi called hyphae travel long distances in an endless search for nutrients. These nutrients include iron, copper, phosphorus, zinc and nitrogen. Each hypha is a tube, and a bundle of them are called mycelium. When enough hyphae are brought together they become visible. Maybe you have seen their white strands in mulch or decaying leaves? A single TEASPOON of healthy soil can contain many yards of hyphae!  Plants depend on these hyphae to bring water and nutrients, often from far away, to their roots. Fungal hyphae can travel farther and faster through the soil than the plants own roots.  They nose snakelike in search of nutrients, which they pump back and either store until the plant needs them or until the fungi die and decay.  In a natural death, the hyphae continue to help as they release stored nutrients and the tunnels they carved become conduits for beneficial bacteria, water and air.
As a rule of thumb, annual plants do best in soil with a predominance of bacteria, and perennials, including shrubs and trees, strongly prefer fungi dominated soil. The first and most important step to achieve this balance is to stop behaving like a mass murderer! For me this required a radical change:  no more rototilling.  None, ever.  A single pass kills quadrillions of bacteria and chops and destroys thousands of MILES of fungal mycelia.  And no more “double digging”, which can be just as bad! I didn’t use chemical fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides which also slaughter soil life, but I was guilty of the mass destruction of fungi and bacteria through my cultivation practices.
So last year I made the change to a kinder, gentler type of gardening.  Every fall we cover the whole garden with several inches of straw and horse manure, a gift from our 12 horses.  I allow it to overwinter and in the spring I simply use a pointed hoe to make furrows for seeding, or a trowel to dig a small hole to transplant into.  Once the plants are established, it’s a simple matter to add to the mulch layer with clean straw or grass clippings.
It was easy and I think very successful. The plants were healthy, unaffected by dry spells, and it seemed there were less bugs! It was so much less work! I encourage you to try it!  The only drawback was that weeds that escaped removal were monstrous and healthy as well, but I turn a kind and blind eye to weeds, as they are often just plants in the wrong place, and many are delicious edibles as well!