Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mushroom Hunting: Part 1

I'm taking a weekend Mycology class: Mushroom taxonomy and identification! We spend two days out in the woods mushroom hunting. I brought my snares, spears and bucknife. Haha! No, really, I geared up for rain and more rain and took along a big woven basket to collect the fungal booty. It is a real thrill to mushroom hunt all kinds of fungi forms: agarics and polypores and slime molds, oh my! Above, the hunting grounds....

My instructor is Dr. Laursen, a very well known mycologist. He is a fantastic teacher and so ethusiastic about his love of fungi. On the first day of class he told us that we'll "pick mushrooms and handle them and smell them and play with them and roll in them!" He makes great jokes, like when discussing the so called "sexless fungi" and what a total bummer that is for them. Dr. L was actually my high school biology teacher and I am so thrilled to see him again! He's only gotten better with age.

One little sweet dude I collected, an agaric, or gilled mushroom. I took along my Canon Powershot A2000. I just got this camera in June before our big biycle tour, and I'm realizing it's limitations. I think it's predecessor, the Powershot A95 was just a better camera, overall. For the 2000, getting it to do the right thing in Macro mode is frustrating.....

A wee coprolitic fungi: one that grows in dung! Interesting note---apparently many of the psychotropic 'shrooms are dung-dwellers.... In this photo: moose nuggets.

Beautiful fungi growing on a birch trunk. I only took a small piece of this growth. I didn't wan't to disturb the beautiful overall form! This has GOT to go in a painting, someday....

Tiny little guys in the leaf litter. These dudes are the decomposers of the forest floor.

Back at school, our combined collections laid out. With Dr. Laursen's guidance, we separated everything into family and genus. Most of what we had were agarics, and we further separated those by spore color. We made spore prints and agar cultures from sterilized chunks of mushroom cap. Very nifty stuff!
Today, it's back out in the field. Our hunting ground is a camp about 30 miles out of town. It's been raining nonstop for a week! Excellent mushroom weather.

An altered shot of the collection papers. You know, I can make art with ANYTHING.

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