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Public's interest in mushrooms growing
    #2295052 - 02/02/04 08:38 PM (13 years, 1 month ago)


Public's interest in mushrooms growing

Staff Writer

Published in the Courier News on February 2, 2004

BERNARDS -- Mycology is mushrooming.

That's the bumper sticker on the car of Susan Hopkins of Tewksbury, president of the New Jersey Mycological Association.

And it's true.

Last year -- the fourth wettest year since 1895, the year state record-keeping began -- has brought an explosion of mushrooms and with it an explosion of interest in mycology. The society has gained more than 100 new members, about two-thirds more than in a dry year, bringing the membership to 453, said Robert Peabody of Milford, treasurer.

"In a wet year, mushrooms show up in people's yards," said Peabody. "People see them and become interested. We start getting calls asking about identification and many people, once they start learning about mushrooms, become hooked."

What is the allure of the mushroom?

"Pretty much everyone knows about trees or birds or wild flowers, but there are still many unknown species of macrofungi (the common mushroom)," said Dorothy Smullen of Long Hill. "It's a challenge to be able to identify them. There are several thousand in New Jersey alone, and there's not a single field guide that will identify all of them."

Indeed, Smullen said, a past president of the society and a retired science teacher from North Plainfield High School, a microscope and an extensive library are needed to identify some of the more unusual specimens.

Smullen's interest in mushrooms grew out of a rainy period in the early 1970s during which mushrooms sprouted up along the banks of the Passaic River near her Millington home. Like many new members of the society, Smullen was drawn to the group by a desire to find out more about the additions to her landscape.

Since then, Smullen has developed an interest in fungi fibres and now makes textured papers from mushroom pulp, which she uses for greeting cards.

Hopkins' interest stems from the drawings she made as a child on the undersides of the "shelf" mushroom -- Ganoderma applanatum -- which grows on the sides of trees. She attended one of the society's "Fungus Fests," its major public outreach program, in 1979 and has been a member ever since.

Her interest is in mushroom dyes, and Smullen was wearing a hand-knitted vest that Hopkins had made using yarns colored in delicate hues of pink and purple with wild mushrooms dyes.

The interests of club members extend to every aspect of the mushroom, from using them for making paper and dye to growing them, identifying them, photographing them and mycophagy -- or simply eating them.

Lest readers be tempted to eat mushrooms from the woods, however, the society warns there is no simple way to tell edible fungi from poisonous ones and stresses that the cardinal rule for mushroom hunters is "When in doubt, throw it out!"

Peabody, who says he has been "a member of the fungal world" since 1975, was drawn to mushrooms through his interest in edible plants, which developed as a result of a boyhood spent in rural Warren County.

"I found the forms and colors to be very intriguing," he said. "They are some of the world's great edibles and some of the world's deadliest plants. Every time you turn around, there's something new and different to learn about."

He said this year has been the kind of mushroom year that comes along once in a decade. "It's been an excellent fruiting year," he said. "There are oodles of mushrooms everywhere you look. It hasn't dried out since March."


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Re: Public's interest in mushrooms growing [Re: motaman]
    #2298797 - 02/03/04 11:09 PM (13 years, 1 month ago)

it's so true, I get all excited if I see a few mushrooms growing in my yard after a shower, and I usually keep my eye open when I go for walks in the forest. There is something peculiar and intriguing about mushrooms, they seem to appear suddenly and are gone just as fast, they have many shapes and sizes, and of course you can trip off some of them  :wink:

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Re: Public's interest in mushrooms growing [Re: motaman]
    #2299406 - 02/04/04 03:05 AM (13 years, 1 month ago)

Ther are many articles in my Grape Vine section of my web-site from the sixties in Australia to Oregon and Washington in the early 1970s which refer to large bumper crops of shrooms draw pickers from all over.

This is a common message in numerous articles in public newspapers across the continent and the world.
In Michigan i have seen headlines about Bumper morel crops up, in Washington the Chantrelles are bloomin'

Even listings of bumper crops of liberty caps in England and the PNW.

Even Seattle newspapers as well as radio stations sometimes announce the shroom season for both edibles and magic shrooms.

And every year the puget sound mycological societies annual shroom fair also has write-ups about bumper crops of shrooms here in Seattle.


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Re: Public's interest in mushrooms growing [Re: chodamunky]
    #2308008 - 02/06/04 11:09 AM (13 years, 1 month ago)


they seem to appear suddenly and are gone just as fast, they have many shapes and sizes, and of course you can trip off some of them

Just like man ....


Spiritual being, living a human experience ... The Shroomery Mandala

Use, do not abuse; neither abstinence nor excess ever renders man happy.

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Re: Public's interest in mushrooms growing [Re: motaman]
    #2313610 - 02/08/04 04:29 AM (13 years, 1 month ago)

I wonder what mushrooms are good for dyes.

I'm interested in non-food uses for mushrooms.


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Re: Public's interest in mushrooms growing [Re: Baby_Hitler]
    #2323203 - 02/11/04 06:01 AM (13 years, 1 month ago)

I can think of a good way to get blue dye...



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