These are exciting days for mycophiles on the central coast of California. Soon we'll be seeing Marasmius plicatulus in the woods again:
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.
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See you in the forest,
PS - Click on the image below to sign up for our free New Year's Community Mushroom Walk!