Saturday, March 31, 2007

Issue 14, February and March 2007


I think it was Teddy Roosevelt that said, “There is no such thing as functional illiteracy; because when a person is illiterate, he is not functioning.” Well, I’ve found that computer illiteracy is a lot like that, except that it is my PC that is not functioning!

Here I am, up against a deadline to get this newsletter out and it is one computer glitch after another. Why would it work yesterday and not today? Please don’t tell me that Windows is like that! If carpenters built houses like programmers wrote code, I’d bet you that it would only take one woodpecker to bring down a whole subdivision!

Don’t say I should have backed up my hard drive. I would have, but I couldn’t figure out how to put it in reverse. One thing I have figured out, though – there is only one satisfying way to boot a computer. Dominique has a Mac and he swears by it. I have a PC, and you guessed it, all I do is swear at mine. Sometimes, I think it would be great if we could go back to the day of pencil and paper. I don’t ever remember my pencil crashing! Well, that is probably enough about my computer woes!

Those of us who made it to the February Microscope Workshop at the college had a great time. Dr. David Wartenbee was our instructor and he did a tremendous job! After a short overview of the different types of microscopes and their uses, he took us into the science lab for some ‘hands on’ practice. He had prepared slides available, but also helped prepare slides from material which was brought to the workshop. I think I can safely speak for the whole group, and say that it was a wonderful class, Dr. Wartenbee did an excellent job, and we all came away from the workshop with a solid understanding of the correct method for using a microscope.

Prior to the workshop and since, I have received quite a number of e-mails from those who wanted to be there, but had other commitments on February 3rd. If you were one of those, and would still like to attend a workshop, let us know. It is something that we could do again at a later date if there is enough interest.

Dr. Wartenbee has our thanks for giving so freely of his time and knowledge. We gave him a copy of Dr. Miller’s Mushrooms of North America as a token of our appreciation, but, we remain in his debt.


At our March 3rd meeting, Steve and Linda Albers will be giving a presentation on ‘Myco-Medicinals’ (medicinal /pharmaceutical mushrooms).

Here is a brief bio on Steve and Linda:

Steve grew up in California and was introduced to mushroom hunting at a young age. He and his brothers would accompany their father and grandfather into the Santa Cruz Mountains and fill their bags with whatever they came upon. Afterwards, the elder Albers would separate out the edibles, and incorporate them into delicious dishes (especially pizza and spaghetti sauces). Steve moved to Alaska in the mid nineties and has continued to pursue his interest in mushrooming.

Linda hails from Michigan, where she spent much of her childhood fishing and ‘snooping’ around the woods, hunting arrowheads and mushrooms with her half Ojibwa father. (You probably already know that Michigan is famous for its bountiful morel crop!) As an adult she became an avid organic gardener and proponent of herbal healing. She also has a BSN in Nursing Science.

A few years ago Steve and Linda attended a ‘Nutritional Conference in Medical Practice’ seminar. It was there that they really became aware of the value of mushrooms in alternative medicine and especially in the treatment of chronic immune disorders. Since that time their interest in mushrooms has changed from simply culinary, to medicinal, as well.

Most recently, they attended the ‘Third International Medicinal Mushroom Conference’ which was held in Port Townsend, WA. (This conference is rarely held outside of Europe or Asia, and it will be at least another decade before it is returns to North America.)
It was truly and ‘international’ event with people in attendance from all over the world. Among the speakers and attendees were mycologists, mycology students, medical doctors and immunologists, specialists in infectious and contagious diseases, naturopathic practitioners, ecologists and specialists in bioremediation.

(From what I personally know of the conference, a list of those who attended would read like the ‘Who’s Who of the Mycological World’!)

Much of what they will be sharing with us has come out of that experience. In addition to their presentation, they will have copies of much of the research material available for us to view.

This is a timely subject. The use of mushrooms medicinally is an area of study that is just now coming into its own in Europe and North America. A great amount of research is being done and tremendously valuable discoveries are being made. Science is confirming what ancient cultures have known for centuries; that mushrooms have within them some of the most potent medicines found in nature. (But, unlike most pharmaceuticals, mushroom healing agents have extraordinarily low toxicity.) One very important focus of this research is the application of mushroom therapies for chronic and devastating diseases like cancer and auto-immune system related health problems.

The medicinal use of mushrooms is an interesting subject, and one that, without question, has the potential to play an important role in the future treatment of some of our most serious diseases.

We want to thank the Albers for offering to share their knowledge and experience with us.


Recently Blanche Tinius sent me three articles from the summer, fall and winter 1999 issues of Mushroom, the Journal. They were the creation of Lorelei Norvell and Scott Redhead, and were written in response to a comment by mycologist Harley Barnhard. Harley, was (and is) the book review editor for MTJ. He had asked the question, “Has not the time come for the North American Mycological Association . . . . . to step forward and . . . . . sanction a list of common (or “popular”) names for mushrooms?”

We are told that “This question was provoked by Harley’s discovery that a new mushroom guide used one set of English names for the exact same species treated under an entirely different set of English names by the exact same author in a different guide published only two years previously.” And, if this was not confusing enough, he found that the common names used in these two references were also different than those found in other field guides. As the authors noted, “This state of affairs is guaranteed to drive someone with more than one book just plain nuts.”

Norvell and Redhead put together an entertaining spoof on the subject using the great detective Sureluck and his assistant Dr. Whatsong who have come into possession of the fall 1999 foray list of the “Pukey Point Mushroom Club.” To their surprise, the list is comprised wholly of ‘common’ or English names, with not so much a one single Latin name listed. Even the great Sureluck was a bit befuddled by the list.

So, here is our challenge – Can YOU identify the species on the list below?

1. Give us the Latin equivalents (the scientific names) for each English (common) name on the list.

2. List the total number of species represented.
Here are three helpful hints:
a) many mushroom species have undergone one or more name changes over the years. Though they have synonymous names such as Rhodophyllus nudus, Tricholoma nudum, Clitocybe nuda and Lepista nuda, this would be considered one species.
b) this is a ‘fall’ foray list, not a ‘spring’ list.
c) often, the authors made up the common names ‘off the cuff’, and they did not always reference them in the index.

3. Submit your best educated guesses, informed opinions or wild stabs to me by e-mail ( If you are the person with the most correct answers, you will receive for your efforts, a copy of Arora’s All That The Rain Promises And More.

Here is the ‘Pukey Point Foray List.’

Bell Mottlegill
Burn Site Mycena
Burnt Hedgehog
Chicken Mushroom
Cluster Coincap
Common Earth-fan
Common Fiber Vase
Conifer Tuft
Conifer Tuft Psilocybe
Conifer-Base Polypore
Crimped Gill
Dung Psilocybe
Dung Round Head
Dung Slime Head
Earth Fan
Fairy Bonnet
Forest Friend
Funnel Chanterelle
Golden Chanterelle (1)
Golden Chanterelle (2)
Golden-gilled Mushroom
Gray Shag
Herald of Winter
June Mushroom
Leaflike Oyster
Milk Bonnet
Milk-drop Bonnet
Milky Cone Cap
Mock Meadow Mushroom
Orange Discus Mushroom
Orange Fuzzyfoot
Orange Stump Mushroom
Orange Woollycap
Pig’s Ear (1)
Pig’s Ear (2)
Pig’s Trotter
Queen’s Coat
Razor Strop Fungus
Red Slime-head
Red Tree Brain
Russula Parasite
Scaly-veiled Galerina
Shaggy Bear
Smoky-gilled Naematoloma
Trumpet Chanterelle
Tufted Collybia
Veiled Fairy Cake
Weeping Widow
Witch’s Hat
Woman on Motorcycle
Wood Woolly-foot


To the best of my knowledge, NAMA has yet to sanction a list of common mushroom names. Even if they did publish such a list, I doubt that it would eliminate the confusion. The damage is already done. Besides, it makes much more sense (at least to me) to encourage everyone to use the Latin binomial. It is the universal name and one that is unique to one and only one species


We still have a number of copies of Arora’s Mushrooms Demystified and All That The Rain Promises And More and Miller’s Mushrooms of North America available. As always they can be purchased at our cost, plus shipping; an amazing deal for our club members!


Leon Shernoff recently sent us twenty-five complimentary copies of Mushroom, The Journal of Wild Mushrooming. We will be giving them away at the March meeting on a first come basis. MTJ is a great magazine! It is a quarterly publication and has been around since the fall of 1983. I am fortunate enough to have every issue, and consider the set to be valuable resource material.

And that’s not all! Before Leon took over the magazine with the Winter 2003 issue, Maggie Rogers was the editor/owner. She has graciously granted me permission to use material from prior issues in our newsletter as long as I am faithful to credit the source and author. Thank you, Maggie.

Maggie is a retired librarian. She has been an active NAMA member for many years and is currently on their Education Committee. She also owns Fungal Cave Books, a great source for those “out-of-print/earlier (mushroom) books you didn’t know you needed”. Are you looking for A Monograph of the Genus Aphanomyces, The Clavarias of the U.S. and Canada or Crypotogamic Botany? She is sure to have these titles and many, many more. If you have been searching for a book and can’t seem to find it, give Fungal Cave Books a shot. Call her at (503) 239-4321, or contact her via e-mail at

Recently, I received an e-mail from Dr. Ed Berg. (As most of you know, Dr. Berg is an ecologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Along with his duties at the refuge, he also finds time to write an occasional article for the Peninsula Clarion and teach at both the Homer and Soldotna KPC campuses. I have really enjoyed his newspaper articles. They are not only extremely interesting, but he has the ability to present complex material in an easily understood manner.) He had just finished reading Paul Stamets’ Mycelium Running – How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World, and encouraged me to check it out. (Paul Stamets is also the author of several books, including The Mushroom Cultivator and Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms.)

Although I’ve just got a good start on the book, it is definitely a worthwhile read. Mycelium as Nature’s Internet, The Medicinal Mushroom Forest, Mycofiltration, Mycoremediation and Mycopesticides, are just a few of the fascinating chapter titles (and subjects) thoroughly covered in its pages.

From the very first page of his book, Paul Stamets leaves no doubt about his absolute conviction that the mycelial mat that blankets the inhabitable parts of our planet “is the neurological network of nature’ and “that the mycelium operates at a level of complexity that exceeds the computational powers of our most advanced supercomputers.” He speaks of the “mycelium as the Earth’s natural Internet, a consciousness with which we might be able to communicate”. He is so passionate in his position that even the most skeptical will never view the fungi quite the same, again. Far from being a simple life form, they may well be the very fabric that binds all of nature together.

There is an interesting photograph in the first chapter. It is a time lapse photo of a Physarum polycephalum. The slime mold had been placed at the start of a maze. Food was available at both the entrance and the exit, but nothing was provided between. The slime mold successfully navigated the maze by the shortest route, disregarding all dead ends and empty exits, and, the results were the same every time the experiment was conducted! Does that demonstrate fungal intelligence? It would sure appear to be the case.


You could sum up Webster’s definition of cosmopolitan as 1) that which has world-wide, rather that limited scope and 2) that which is found in most parts of the world and under a variety of ecological conditions. The term is often used in reference to certain common mushroom species, but I have to confess, that mine was a western North American or possibly North American concept of 'cosmopolitan'. That is, until I recently stumbled upon an article by Gary Lincoff in the Winter – 2001 issue of MTJ. In the article, Mushroom Hunters of the Grasslands, Gary relates his experiences finding many of our most common mushrooms not only all across N. A., but also around the globe. I had no idea that you would find Coprinus comatus in Capetown, Pleurotus ostreatus in Spinigar, Agaricus xanthodermus in Tel Aviv, Schizophyllum commune in Nairobi, Agaricus arvensis in Istambul, or Agaricus campestris in all of these places! As Gary put it, “One of the pleasures of hunting mushrooms in exotic places is finding . . . . . the old familiars, the mushroom friends one knows from home, looking a little out of place, perhaps, in some exotic backdrop, but welcomed all the more for their presence in such strange and alien settings.”

You are probably wondering how this article came to be called Mushroom Hunters of the Grasslands? As Gary put it, “we all live in cities, towns or villages . . . . . open spaces, in grasslands, as it were, an artificial space filled with buildings we call homes and stores and schools, and cleared path or roads, and planted trees in designated areas, along streets, in backyards, and in parks. We also have special watered and maintained areas of grass that we call lawns, cemeteries, golf courses and ball fields. We live in a sea of grass . . . . . in fact . . . . . our species could be called ‘the keepers of the grass’.” Man has ever been an itinerant species, and one who is forever modifying his environment. It is just these characteristics that have made it possible for a such large number of mushroom species to successfully colonize so much of the earth.

Gary listed some seventy species, in all. Not surprisingly, many are good edibles. Here are but a few of those: Agaricus arvensis, A. campestris, A. silvicola, Armillaria mellea, Clitocybe nuda, Coprinus comatus, C. atramentarius, Flammulina velutipes, Hericium erinaceus, Laetiporus sulphureus, Leucoagaricus naucinus, Lycoperdon perlatum, L. pyriforme, Pleurotus ostreatus and Pluteus cervinus.

Are you planning to do some traveling. Take the time to check out the fungi. You might run into an old friend! According to Gary there are at least a hundred species that have found their way around the globe!


We have received a number of inquiries concerning club dues for 2007. Membership dues for new members have not changed. Student memberships are $10, individuals $15 and family memberships $20. However, sustaining memberships (annual dues for current members) are only $5.


Our April meeting will be the Tree Fungi Workshop led by Lori Trummer. She is a plant pathologist with the U. S. Forest Service. Normally, our meetings are on the first Saturday of the month, but we were unable to schedule the Aquaculture Building for that day. Consequently, we will be meeting on Saturday, April 14th.


Even with our great prize offer, we did not receive a single response to our December Mushroom of the Month contest. I’m sure that Betty Idleman had it pegged, but wanted to give someone else a shot at it. (She is a two-time winner!) So, here it is again. But, you better hurry, because Betty has our blessing to jump right in there!

This is a mushroom that is wide spread, but not common. Where it is found, it can be locally abundant. I have not personally harvested it on the peninsula, but have heard of at least one instance where it was collected here. This is a gilled mushroom that has been parasitized by another fungus. It is edible and has a very good texture and flavor. The spore print (when obtainable) is white. The spore deposit is that of the parasite and not the host, as the latter has been rendered sterile.

Can you name both the host and the parasite? If you are the first to correctly identify this species, you will win the English china coffee mug bearing a woods scene that includes a number of fungi. (Betty already has one of the mugs, and would probably like to make it a pair!)

In the photo above, the two mushrooms to the left are parasitized, while the specimen to the right is not. All three were growing within a few inches of each other.

Don’t forget to check out our website for the newsletter and the latest updates on the mushrooming prospects! Just get on line and go to


It seems like a lot of this newsletter has been devoted to talking about books. But, what is a ‘shroomer to do? Mushrooming is a little tough this time of year. But, there are always books! If I spend a little of my free time studying now, maybe I won’t be scratching my head this summer.

I was in one of the local thrift stores recently and stumbled across Cooking Alaskan. Anything Alaskan usually gets my attention. When I opened up this book, I discovered eight pages devoted to gathering and cooking wild mushrooms. Right then, I knew I had to have it, even if it did cost $1.50! Seriously, this is an unbelievable cookbook. It is almost a field guide as well. There are pages and pages devoted to identifying and locating edible wild plants and berries, identifying marine edibles and butchering and preserving fish and game animals.

There are an awful lot of things Alaskans eat that I have never heard of. The book contains hundreds of recipes from fillet of whale with mushroom sauce all the way down to roasted mousenuts. (I can’t imagine how many tundra mice caches you would have to raid to come up with enough of these seeds to make a meal!) There were recipes for things like poochki and petruskie and steamed gumboots. (I’m still not sure I know what a gumboot is! The list could go on and on. There are nearly one hundred and fifty salmon recipes! (Now that is impressive and something that could be pretty useful in this country!

I went on line to see if the book was still in print and was surprised to find that Amazon had it (new) for $13.22. I would say that it is worth every penny and if I didn’t already have a copy, I would buy one.

Here is a recipe for Coprinus comatus (shaggy manes) that sounded awfully good! (I would bet that just about any wild or domestic mushroom would go well, here.)

Casserole Supreme

¼ cup butter or margarine
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 cups shaggy manes
1 cup milk
1 cup homemade mushroom soup
2 pounds broccoli
Salt and pepper
2 cups cubed ham
1 ½ cups stuffing mix

Saute onions in butter until limp; add mushrooms and sauté briefly until tender. Stir in milk and soup. Put one-third of the broccoli in a well-greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with seasonings and put one-third of ham, one-third of sauce and one-third of the stuffing mix on top. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used. Bake at 350 degrees (175 degrees C.) for thirty minutes or until broccoli is tender. (Brussels sprouts or asparagus may be substituted for the broccoli.)


We hope to see you on Saturday. It should be an informative meeting. Be patient, spring is just around the corner. It won’t be long, and the earth will come alive again! Take care,