Mushrooming Season Is Upon Us!

In high anticipation for the Colorado Mycological Society’s first meeting of the year, I decided that a post about mushrooms is in order. Here are the details of the meeting:

MARCH MEETING: Monday MARCH 11
7:30 pm 
at the Denver Botanic Gardens

TALK:  Edible Mushrooms of Colorado 
Speaker: Ed Lubow
Since most members of CMS are interested in hunting mushrooms so they can eat them, we’ll start off the year with a presentation about some of the edible ones that are actually worth hunting. There will be mushrooms appropriate for any level of hunter, including those who are just starting out. The focus will be on showing how to accurately identify the mushrooms presented so that poisonings due to misidentification can be avoided. There will also be a showing of the winners of the October 2012 photo contest. Ed is a past president of CMS, a photography expert, and one of our chief mushroom identifiers. He is also a volunteer at the Sam Mitchel Herbarium of Fungi at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Like most of my interests, I came upon mycology by way of reading a super neat book: Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares: The Love, Lore, and Mystique of Mushrooms, by Greg Marley. Actually, what happened was: I tried hiking for the first time last summer, found a bunch of neat plants, decided to embark on a project of photographing, identifying, and cataloging them, and realized that the mushrooms I found were the best of the lot. Then, in the course of a class on plant biodiversity, I read that book. And then I got super excited and joined the CMS.

Ah, if only my school offered a class in mycology.

Anyway, I’ve discovered mushrooming is a blend of two of my favorite things: hiking and mushrooms. No, not the magic mushrooms. Wild mushrooms! I’ve been mainly hiking around Rocky Mountain National Park, and here are some of my finds from last season:

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Amanita muscaria, popularly known as the Fly Agaric (So pretty, but so poisonous)

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Pleurotus ostreatus, aka oyster mushrooms (delicious!)

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Lycoperdon perlatum, aka puffball mushrooms (delicious!)

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Ramaria largentii, (edible, but with caution)

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Mystery ‘shroom. I have yet to figure out what this is; my suspicions: Russula decoloransLactarius torminosus, or perhaps it’s neither of those!

I’m really bummed I have to miss the height of Colorado’s mushrooming season this year. Since there were so many forest fires last year, there should be a great number of delicious chanterelles and morels taking advantage of the nutrient-rich soil. Hopefully, Salt Lake City has some neat finds; I’ll be there for my first internship with Goldman Sachs.

In the spirit of mushrooming, here is a relevant TED talk from leading mycologist, Paul Stamets:

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