It’s time for the show

On Sunday morning as I was flipping eggs and buttering toast I overheard an interview with Elton John talking about his new autobiography, which he is simply calling “ME”. Wow, that gave me a great idea for this week’s article. I thought posting an abbreviated autobiography about myself would be great. You know, a little insider info about the man behind the typewriter, or in this case keyboard. I rushed over to Sandy and pitched my idea. She very diplomatically responded by saying I should stick with something a little, actually she said a lot, more informative and relevant. When I asked her when such an article would be more appropriate she very concisely and succinctly replied NEVER!

So, with the Mount Pisgah Mushroom Festival coming up on Sunday October 27, it was suggested I review how best to collect mushrooms for the festival. Fortunately, Sandy had already created much of the information I would need on how best to accomplish collecting mushrooms suitable for display. You can do the collection on your own or hook up with a collecting foray. “CMS organizes several forays starting the weekend prior to the Mushroom Festival. Collecting for the Mushroom Festival is very different than foraging for edible mushrooms.  You may have the opportunity to harvest a few edibles, but the primary purpose will be to collect the widest diversity of mushroom species we can find.  If you have never collected for the Mushroom Festival Display you are in for a treat.  You will see and collect mushrooms that you may have never noticed before, and you will be amazed at the diversity!”

Here are the specifics taken from the CMS website. I could have said the following in my own words but I’m still getting over Sandy’s somewhat insensitive response to my mini autobiography suggestion. However, I’m still going to include the cover photo I was going to use for my self-indulgent article. Looking Good!

Now, here is a summary of the process CMS uses for their festival collection forays.  Of coarse, these are only guidelines. If you do not have all of the recommended tools, just wing it … its Eugene!

  • Wax paper bags, available at many grocery stores are great for collecting. They will keep multiple specimens together and separate from other specimens. You can also write notes on the outside of the wax bag with a permanent marker; to help with identification. If you think you know the mushroom genus and/or species, write it on the wax bag.  If you don’t know the mushroom type, it is nice to have habitat information; such as on dead conifer log, near spruce trees etc.
  • For the really small mushrooms a divided plastic container or a tackle box is ideal.
  • When you are out collecting and you find a group of like mushrooms; try to bring back mushrooms of the same type that are at varying ages. This helps both with the identification and for people to see the variations at different stages of growth.
  • You may use a knife, but please do not cut mushrooms. Try to extract them completely below the base of the stem, and place in a wax bag. Some people prefer to use a small trowel when collecting for the festival display to ensure they collect the entire specimen. No need to clean off the base as having a small amount of soil or moss on the base may help them stay better preserved. Please replace/repair ground divots/damage you create when extracting.
  • For smaller mushrooms that are growing on wood, you may need to collect an entire stick, log, or piece of bark.
  • Place all mushrooms collected from the same location (e.g. Coast dunes, high Cascades) into a box and place a note in the box to state where they were found. If you have elevation information, include that also. Also, include your name, so we will know who brought in the winning show specimen!
  • The later in the week you collect, prior to setup day on Saturday, the fresher your mushrooms will be for the display.  You should store your mushrooms outside in a box in a shaded cool place until you can drop them off at Mount Pisgah Arboretum on Saturday morning (between 9am and noon). If you have something you think is really spectacular or unusual and you want to keep it extra protected, put it in a brown bag in your refrigerator until Saturday morning.
  • Fortunately, the long-standing partnership with Lane Community College enables CMS to store all of the mushrooms collected on CMS forays in the LCC Biology lab cooler until setup day on Saturday. 

Remember, it takes all of us to make the mushroom display the fascinating exhibition that intrigues and amazes the many visitors the festival has each year. Sandy and I along with CMS board members and festival organizers  want to thank each of you that participates in the mushroom collection process and helping to show the incredible diversity of mushrooms right here in Oregon.

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