Mushroom Identification Class underway!

Cultivating A New Crop of Myco-literate Citizens

Agaricus arorae; a mushroom that grows primarily in Santa Cruz, and was named by a UC Santa Cruz student (Rick Kerrigan) after another UCSC student (David Arora)!

Agaricus arorae; a mushroom that grows primarily in Santa Cruz, and was named by a UC Santa Cruz student (Rick Kerrigan) after another UCSC student (David Arora)!

The first heavy rains have come and wet weather promises to continue. Mushrooms are responding rather slowly, but a few species are finally fruiting in big numbers!

I'm super excited that the Redwood Coast Naturalists Program has fledged - our Beginner's Mushroom Identification course has had its first meetings and a field trip, and it has been a blast for me to teach so far.

The class gets to work using keys to identify various local mushrooms. 

The class gets to work using keys to identify various local mushrooms. 

We've talked about fungal biology, mushroom ecology and evolution, and most importantly, the basics of identification. After stressing the "Essential 5" pieces of information that I think are most useful, students got to work in partnered pairs writing descriptions of local mushrooms and then trying to key them out. 

Folks did really well! I was very impressed that 8 out of 10 groups correctly identified their mushrooms, and the other two groups got very close (and we weren't dealing with particularly easy-to-identify mushrooms, either!).

Some gorgeous Oyster Mushrooms found during our first field trip.

Some gorgeous Oyster Mushrooms found during our first field trip.

This is exactly what I was looking forward to when I set up this course: By working together to build skills, I hope to instill people with the confidence to act as mushroom-knowledge banks for their friends and family. We're growing a stronger community of myco-literate naturalists here in Santa Cruz!

Putting the hands in "hands-on"!

Putting the hands in "hands-on"!

If you want to be part of next season's mushroom identification courses, now is the time to register!

During January and February 2016, I'll be teaching both Beginner's and Intermediate-level courses here in Santa Cruz, and I'm finalizing details for a Beginner's course on the Peninsula as well. Stay tuned by signing up for our mailing list.

See you in the woods!
Christian
 




 

Mushroom Season is here - Come learn with us!

These are exciting days for mycophiles on the central coast of California. Soon we'll be seeing Marasmius plicatulus in the woods again:

Marasmius plicatulus Skyline.jpg

The first significant rains of the season have fallen (1.0" and 1.6" at my house near HWY 1 through Santa Cruz), and a major flush of fall mushrooms is only a few days away, I reckon.

I'm pleased that the rainy season has started with a bang, but I'm even more excited that the Redwood Coast Naturalist program will be offering its first-ever Beginner's Mushroom Identification Course next week. This is a 5-week course with two field trips intended to give beginners the tools and skills they need to feel confident identifying mushrooms on their own. 

But this class is also intended to be the start of something bigger and more ambitious; a first step towards cultivating a new wave of amateur myco-taxonomists in central California.

Santa Cruz has a history of folks passing through who end up being extremely influential in the world of mycology. David Arora (author of Mushrooms Demystified), Nathan Wilson (founder of Mushroom Observer), and Rick Kerrigan (author of many new Agaricus names in California) are all former Santa Cruzians.

I believe we ought to carry on this tradition! Santa Cruz should be the place that comes to mind when Californians think of mushroom hunting and myco-expertise. There's lots of argument about whether this is Surf City, USA, but I'm more interested in claiming the title of Mushroom City, USA! 

Just look at these mycophiles and their Porcini:

I want to create a future where members of mycology clubs around the country think of Santa Cruz as the place where mushroom hunters really know their stuff - the real cream of the crop. Towards that end, we'll be trying out lots of creative strategies for getting to know mushrooms more deeply - working towards fluency and familiarity in recognizing fungi and making solid, supported identifications.

The fall session of the beginner's mushroom ID course sold out very quickly, but fear not! I'll be teaching a January-February session as well (as well as an intermediate course for more advanced identifiers!). If you're a Southern California person, I'll be teaching a few classes and speaking in Ventura, Los Angeles, and San Diego in February and March of 2016.

Sign up for our Mailing List here to keep up-to-date on our schedule of events!

See you in the forest,
Christian

PS - Click on the image below to sign up for our free  New Year's Community Mushroom Walk!