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