One last report on the All California Club Foray, at least from this reporter. What a great weekend. Despite a number of star-crossed events early on (Field Station double-booking the weekend, major renovations in process on site, etc.) it all came together in a fun and convivial way, and the big smiles captured on participants faces by Hugh Smith summed it up best.
The stars certainly were in their proper alignment for the weekend itself. The temperatures were surprisingly warmish for the field station, nestled as it is in a cold-catching hollow by the Albion River. For the first time in over twelve years I didn't have to wear my wool cape to ward off the elements! The little bit of rain that fell restricted itself to Friday afternoon, and the rest of the weekend was quite lovely. To add to the background ambience, the Gray whales were at the height of their migration South, and time spent on any nearby ocean bluff rewarded you with the sight of many whale blows, and even a few backs and tails. Thanks to Sandi Smith for that heads-up, or we would never have thought to look!
But of course, it was really all about fungi, and the fungi certainly delivered. The food-centric hunters found a plethora of toothsome morsels, from umbilicatum to repandum, chanterelles golden and yellow-footed, and even black (yes Phil, your collection made us all jealous!). Blewits, pigs ears, honeys, porcini, deliciosus and even a few edible russulas made their appearance, and tempted some of the collectors. But for the core group of taxonomists, it was all about diversity and the challenge of an ID, with a number of new-to-us, and wonderful to find species making their appearance.
Highlights of the collection were: Microglossum viride (the ultra-cool green earth tongues), Cortinarius rubicundulus (so cool to be able to ID a cort, and this is a very distinctive one: its pretty ochre coloration stains red with age and handling, a characteristic that allowed us to ID a perplexingly aborted fruit body, without any gill development, that we at first thought was a gymnopilus); beautiful brown velvety capped Lactarius fallax (the first and only material that I had ever seen was at the first ACCF at Albion in 2005); Chlorociboria aeruginascens, whose mycelia stains wood blue-green, with tiny blue-green fruit bodies; very pink Hygrocybe psittacina, an unexpected color that can be a real ID challenge (bizarrely enough, material that Terry Henkel had on moss in a closed box changed BACK to dark green overnight!); Hygrophorus gliocyclus, an ultra-slimy waxy cap that I hoped for but missed seeing in CO this past summer (even when dry to the touch, handling this guy coated your fingers with wax!); Hygrophorus bakerensis, collected on Sunday, with an over-powering odor of almonds (I just love those distinctive mushroom smells, esp. when they help to nail your ID); some stunningly elegant Psathyrella gracilis, with their long and graceful forms; the charming and abundant Sowerbyella rhenana, an orange peel fungus on a stalk; and last but not least, some unusual, big, flat brown-capped Pseudohydnum gelatinosum collected by Hugh and Sandi Smith. Heck, even a commonplace russula can rise above the rabble when you find it fruiting out of a Doug Fir cone (thanks again, Hugh and Sandi).
The most compelling, but as of yet still unidentified fungus found was a curious little clustered clitocyboid mushroom, with slightly decurrent gills, gray-buff coloration, and with the strong and bizarre smell of moth balls! This critter was described, photographed and dried, and is awaiting the interest of some of this list's ace IDers (and you know who you are).
Follow-up: This mushrooms was eventually IDed as a Camarophyllopsis foetens:
I just read the following while searching for info on a recent find:
Mention is made of a small fungus smelling of moth balls. It might be Camarophyllopsis foetens. Rare in the UK.
Unfortunately I have not gotten around to adding a description but Google should find one.
Leif Goodwin, Surrey, England.
And a reply from Debbie Viess:
Hello Leif and Herman,
That was our conclusion as well. Here is a link to my BAMS Mushroom of the Month page on this fungus (written two years ago) and the identification process:
Best, and Happy New Year!
Bay Area Mycological Society
But taxonomy geeks aside, this foray was also about the people. Terry Henkel was our delightful guest mycologist, and he spent a long evening on Saturday working through specimens in an inclusive way: he shared each step of the process with our rapt group, teaching as he keyed, and he demonstrated many cool mushroom features under his microscope. Lots of folks drifted into the former ping-pong table now specimen room, to ooooo and aaaaa and ask questions and learn something new. Although cramped and crowded, it was pleasantly warm (although not enough to melt our shrooms). Our usual large back room work space was piled high with construction debris, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise, at least for taxonomists and attendees normally at risk for hypothermia in that unheated space.
In his fascinating Saturday night lecture, Terry did a fine job of portraying the intricate workings of the powerhouse fungi: those that do the invaluable work of breaking down woody debris. I don't think that any of us will scorn a polypore or Phaeolus again! His graphic power-point illustrations showed how these fungi do their job, in the clearest manner that I have ever seen presented. As I recently wrote to Anne Pringle, a colleague from Harvard and an old friend of Terry's, I finally "get it"! In addition to the clearly presented material, Terry was a pleasure to listen to, with his relaxed and engaging style. His audience was attentive, and his talk ended with a flurry of insightful questions; apparently, other folks "got it", too!
This foray was about meeting a diversity of mushroomers as well as discovering mushrooms, and I think that we all enjoyed the many conversations and contacts that we made. Our farthest flung attendee was Rolph Engle from Minnesota, who regaled us with an amazing CD of mushroom photos taken entirely in his backyard; our youngest mycophile was Alex Bojantchev, a budding taxonomic force to be reckoned with (like his Poppa Dimi); our most obsessive, ace IDer was Doug Smith from the FFSC (check out his fine photos on MushroomObserver.com), who had to be urged to step awaaaaaay from the mushrooms and take meals; there were many other fine folks from the FFSC, especially Deb Johnson and Marje Young, who were essential to the smooth operations of the weekend, and Lee Yamada, Phil Carpenter, and John Brown, who helped to lead forays; Hugh and Sandi Smith, multi-club members, also led forays and provided our Kodak moments; Herman and Cecelia Brown, BAMS and MSSF members who made the difficult journey down from their mountain home to attend this event; Bob and Barb Sommers, he of the fine mushroom watercolors, from the Davis Mycological Sociey; Ed and Sue Kowalewski and the ever cheerful and helpful Don Bryant from the Humboldt Bay Mycological Society; and a fine assortment of members of BAMS, SOMA and the MSSF. We also had a number of local myco-celebs, from Tigerlily Jones, a talented fiber artist and mushroom dyer (check Arora's "All that the Rain Promises", page 207, for an example of her work) to Taylor Lockwood, mushroom photographer, and his fiance Medea, who arrived in time, after a very long day of far-flung mushroom events, to catch a lecture by his old friend and former band-mate Terry Henkel.
Deb Dawson, from GoodThymeCatering, did her usual fine job of keeping us all fat and sassy with delicious meals, and Saturday night's dinner of done-to-perfection Cornish game hens stuffed with wild rice and chanterelles was a real showstopper. Yum. Marjorie Young and Deb Johnson (this was a multi-Deb weekend) did a fine job of feeding an appreciative crowd a mushroom sampler of edibles that we collected on Saturday.
Food, fun, fungi, say kids, what say we make this a
tradition? ACCF will be back in 2009; David and I are hoping that another club and perhaps another couple
will sponsor it next time, so that we can all hunt some new territory, say LA or Humboldt Co. The sky's
the limit, and cooperation and collegiality is the key.
Tired but happy ACCF Coordinator