2019/2020 – CMS Year in Review

The 2019/2020 season for the Cascade Mycological Society (CMS) was action packed! We started with our 20th Anniversary Celebration, blew away records at the Mushroom Festival, created a “Fascinating World of Fungi” educational display at the Eugene Library, educated members and the public with our monthly meetings and community classes, helped new and old CMS members identify and collect mushrooms on forays, socialized with members at a winter potluck, and ended the year by “going virtual”. Below are the highlights. Note the many links you can click on for more details and lots more pictures.

CMS celebrated our 20th anniversary of becoming a non-profit on September 21, 2019. How did we celebrate? We spent several months over the summer creating giant paper mache mushrooms and mushroom costumes so that we could march in the Eugene Parade

CMS Meetings

CMS welcomed a variety of speakers to our monthly meetings held at the Amazon Community Center on the 3rd Wednesday of the month. All CMS meetings are always open to the public and everyone is welcome to bring mushrooms for identification. A first for us was our October joint meeting with the Emerald Chapter of the Native Plant Society (NPS). It was a big hit. We are already in talks with the NPS about future joint meetings. The COVID-19 pandemic did interrupt our regularly scheduled meetings in March. But, we re-grouped and went virtual with Zoom and our new CMS Youtube channel. We hope to continue to use our newfound virtual and video skills to reach more people and to educate the community on fungi.

Mount Pisgah Arboretum Mushroom Festival Highlights

The 2019 Mount Pisgah Arboretum Mushroom Festival was definitely one for the record books! We have never had so many boxes piled up on Saturday morning as we had this year.  It was over the top! And, the stats bare out that observation. Oh, and those giant mushrooms we created for the Eugene Festival, we used them to create a Mushroom Selfie Booth that kids of all ages loved.

  • Total # of species – 539!  (Yes, we blew away the 2017 record of 409)
  • New species – 88 (beat the record of 69 new species in 2016)
  • Best in Show:  Cortinarius ponderosus – Jacob Anderson
  • 1stPlace:  Sparassis radicata – Keiko Bryan and Rob Castleberry  
  • 2nd Place: Boletopsis leucomelana – Bruce Newhouse & Peg Boulay

It has long been the goal of CMS to eventually introduce a scientific/study opportunity into the mix of the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Mushroom Festival.   In addition to breaking records, this was also the first year that goal was realized, and in a big way.  Prior to the festival CMS was contacted by Chris Rath, PHD on behalf of the Dorrestein Laboratory at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).  Chris requested that he be allowed to collect samples of mushrooms at the end of the festival for mass spectrometry (MS) analysis. Chris explained “A characterized mushroom dataset would be an invaluable resource for the scientific community in terms of basic biology, toxicology, health, and medicine.”  He further detailed that the resultant data of the analysis will be stored in the open-access, publicly available Global Natural Products Social Molecular Networking (GNPS), hosted at UCSD. Upon learning more details and having all of our questions answered, both CMS and our LCC partners gave a jubilant “we will totally support your data collection” response to Chris. 

On the day of the festival, Chris’s response at seeing the mushroom display was “I wish I had brought more vials”. At the days end, Chris along with two associates gathered up samples of 200 mushrooms for analysis. We look forward to following the progress of this endeavor, and hopefully providing an update in a future newsletter. If you would also like to learn more, check out the GNPS website.

CMS Member only Forays

CMS member forays offer new members the opportunity to learn from those who are more experienced; while long time members like to join in just for the comradery. All CMS forays emphasise how to stay safe while foraging and we always make sure you only have edible mushrooms headed home for your skillet. The Festival Collection forays provide an opportunity to learn more than just about the edibles.

Macrofungi of Lane County Oregon (MLCO)

CMS’s Macrofungi of Lane County Oregon project on iNaturalist is an increasingly valuable tool.  We started on the 5th of March 2018.  As of the 16th of May 2020, we have 6257 observations of 758 species made by 572 people, of whom 212 are members of the project.   It is now possible to use our iNat project as a guide to our local fungi!  We also know from our iNat records that we have dried specimens of more than 300 of our 758 species to date (more species are being added all the time).  Only 40 of the 758 have been sequenced so far, but we are ready to ship another 96 the minute the moratorium on sequencing lifts (it has been in place since October).  Of the 40 we have sequenced, five (13%) may be new species (not in Genbank and not in the literature so far), but we need to work more on these to be sure.  In addition, we were able to attach names to some mystery MycenaRussula and Inocybe, and added a new Agaricus to the state, Agaricus porphyrocephalus var. pallidus.

Another MLCO accomplishment during 2019 was the creation of the Woodchip Fungi of Lane County project on INaturalist in December of 2019. This project will capture the fungi that are present in wood chip habitats. Primarily geared towards urban landscapes in the Eugene-Springfield area; it encompasses fungi present in any woodchip (i.e. wood chip or mulch covered landscape areas) habitat within Lane County.

Community Forays & Classes (through City of Eugene Parks & Recs)

CMS partners with the City of Eugene Recreation Services to offer seasonal educational forays and classes to the community through the Amazon Community Center where we hold our monthly meetings. This years events were:

  • Family Foray – Chris Melotti enjoyed hosting families in a mushroom themed walk through Hendricks park
  • Introduction to Wild Mushroom Identification Class – Ron & Sandy Patton taught beginners the easiest edibles to identify and where and how to find them.
  • Adult foray – Ron & Sandy Patton led a group to Shotgun Creek.
  • Cooking with Wild Mushrooms – Lee Yamada’s class was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19.

Grants and Scholarships Awarded

CMS has been proud to offer the Freeman Rowe Educational Scholarship since 2008. Eligibility for the scholarship is limited to Oregon college students (community college or university undergraduate, or graduate) who are engaging in mycology research. The scholarship(s) are awarded for research that forwards the understanding of the biology and ecology of fungi or that demonstrates the practical uses of fungi. Unfortunately, no one applied to receive a scholarship during the 2019/2020 season. We were happy to make the final scholarship installment to Richard Tehen who was granted a scholarship in May of 2019. Scholarship grantees are normally provided $500 when their scholarship is granted and the final $500 is provided when they provide results of their research work to the club. Richard Tehen presented his final results to us at the February 19, 2020 meeting.

The Macrofungi of Lane County Oregon project requested a grant of $500 for DNA sequencing in September 2019. The request was granted by the CMS Board of Directors.

Special Events

In addition to participating in the Eugene Parade, numerous CMS members contributed to a Fascinating World of Fungi display at the Eugene Library during the months of January and February of 2020. Our display coincided with the showing of the film Fantastic Fungi at the Bijou Theater.The exhibit included 2 display cases:

  • Case 1 – Edible Mushrooms of Oregon (models), Fungi Biology and Ecology, Medicinal Mushrooms, and Just for Kids
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  • Case 2 – Edible Mushrooms of Oregon (models), Fungi for a Sustainable Future, Mushroom Cultivation & Our Favorite Mushroom Books, Dyeing with Mushrooms
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CMS Members in the Community

Numerous CMS members are generous with their time in educating the local Eugene/Springfield community with mushroom walks and presentations. This years round-up included:

September 17, 2019 – Introduction to Mushrooms Class – The Lane County Master Gardener Association invites the public to its monthly seminar. The topic for the September seminar is Introduction to Mushrooms. Presented by Bruce Newhouse. 

October 11, 2019 – All about Wild Mushrooms Talk – CMS members Ron & Sandy Patton accepted an invitation to speak to the residents of the Waterford Grand Assisted Living Facility. The audience was attentive and engaged in discussions about mushroom ecology, mushroom taxonomy, and about the many new products and industries being revolutionized by fungus.

October 15, 2019 – Forest Treasures: Finding and Enjoying Wild Mushrooms – Hosted by REI at Wildcraft Ciderworks, join CMS members Bruce Newhouse and Peg Boulay to dive into the fantastic world of fungi at your feet! $1 from every cider was donated to CMS.

November 3, 2019Mushroom Walk with Oregon Wild – learn everything you ever wanted to know about mushroom ecology and identification in the Middle Fork Willamette from one of Eugene’s most knowledgeable and fun experts – Bruce Newhouse. This hike, in the easy to get to Fall Creek area southeast of Eugene, will explore forests of different ages and the many fungi growing in them – from LBMs (little brown mushrooms) to the sought-after golden chanterelle.

December 7, 2019 Mushroom Walk at Mount Pisgah Arboretum – It’s still mushroom season! Take a walk through the Arboretum’s forested trails with experienced mycologists Chris Melotti and Molly Widmer of the Cascade Mycological Society, and hunt for these fascinating fungi. Discuss identification, habitat, characteristics, natural history and the role of fungi within an ecosystem. 

Web & Communications Team Highlights

The CMS volunteer web and communications team continues to add new capabilities and content to our online presence. In August of 2019 all current CMS members of record were created a login account to the CMS Website. When CMS Members login they are now presented with a consolidated view of all upcoming activities and members only website content. If logged in, they will also receive their member discount for online purchases in the CMS store. Current members only content includes:

  • The CMS forums: General topic forums, Area Forums to communicate with members who live near you (Eugene/Springfield, Portland area, Southern Oregon, Central Coast), and the Interest Group Forums (Culinary, Photography, Education, Cultivation, Mycelium, Taxonomy, Fungi crafts).
  • Mount Pisgah Mushroom Festival Species list: the 2019 list, and a list of the most common species on display at the festival.
  • Edible mushrooms fruiting calendar.

The COVID-19 pandemic gave us a push forward into the live streaming environment. So, CMS now has a CMS YouTube Channel and a Virtual Events page on our website.. We hope to use this for both live streaming of CMS meetings (even if we meet in person) and for fungi education. To assist CMS members there is now a page of instructions on how to participate in CMS virtual events.

Our summer of 2020 endeavor is to provide CMS members and the public with easier access to our website and notifications. We are currently testing a CMS app and mobile notifications. Stay tuned for instructions.

CMS Board Members

So, how do CMS meetings, forays, culinary events, mushroom displays, and educational activities get planned? For the most part, everything gets planned and organized by the CMS Board of Directors. The 2019/2020 Board of Directors are listed below. CMS members who login to the CMS Website can find all of the Board Meeting minutes and information on how to get more involved on the CMS Board Activities page.

  • President: Cheshire Mayrsohn
  • Vice President & Meeting Speaker Coordinator: Chris Melotti
  • Treasurer: Pavel Gubanikhin
  • Foray Coordinator: Matthew Johnson
  • Members at large: Lee Yamada, Bob Blanchard
  • We began the year with Cori Sanchez as Secretary and ended the year with Erin Brown as Secretary.
  • Website & Newsletter: Sandy Patton

Also on the CMS Board of Directors ballot for the 2019/2020 season was our dear friend Harriet Kelly. Sadly, Harriet unexpectedly passed away on May 29, 2019. Harriet epitomized the “joy of the hunt” when it came to mushrooming. We will always be grateful and carry with us many fond memories of Harriet’s 7 years of service and friendship on the CMS Board of Directors from 2012 to 2019.