2020-2021 Year in Review

The 2020/2021 season for the Cascade Mycological Society (CMS) was definitely different. By the start of the season we were well into the COVID-19 pandemic. We did miss seeing CMS members at more in person events, but we made the best of it.  Below are the highlights. Note the many links you can click on for more details and lots more pictures.

CMS Meetings

CMS welcomed a variety of speakers to our monthly meetings, all held virtually on the 3rd Wednesday of the month. We certainly missed seeing everyone in person and having the opportunity to see and identify mushroom finds. But there were also a few upsides to virtual meetings. We were able to invite speakers from places near and far, including Washington, California, Canada, Colorado, Indiana, and even Thailand. We were also able to expand our reach via YouTube to those that do not live nearby or are unable to make it to our normal physical meeting location at the Amazon Community Center. Additionally, we have recordings of these presentations. All of the meetings below are available on the CMS Website for CMS members to view at any time. Some, with permission of the speaker, are also retained on the CMS YouTube channel.

We were also pleased that the February through May meetings all include a short informational status of the Mushrooms of Lane County Oregon, a CMS FUNDIS project, at the beginning of the meeting.

Mount Pisgah Arboretum Mushroom Festival Highlights

At over 500 species of mushrooms on display, the 2019 Mount Pisgah Mushroom Festival was one for the record books. Well, so was the 2020 festival! But, for a different reason. The big accomplishment was, we had a festival! A small band of CMS members, along with Susie Holmes from Lane Community College (LCC), and the Mount Pisgah Arboretum (MPA) staff ventured into the virtual festival waters last June. Five months and hundreds of volunteer hours later we had a successful festival on our normal festival day, and during the normal hours of 10am to 5pm. Yes, we somehow put together a full 7 hours of content.

Freeman Rowe

First, I must mention the festival was dedicated to our beloved Freeman Rowe who was the driving force behind the creation of both the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Wild Flower Festival and Mushroom Festival. Freeman is also the reason that CMS exists today. As CMS was formed by former students who attended Freeman’s Biology of Mushroom class at Lane Community College. We were all very happy that Freeman did make it to his 90th birthday as he had wished, but just a few weeks before the festival he left us. You will find the video tribute to Freeman that we created for the festival on both the CMS website and YouTube channel

Here are some highlights of the festival:

The stars of the mushroom festival are always the mushrooms. So, our first decision was to re-create the mushroom display “virtually” with a mycoblitz on iNaturalist.  This gave us the opportunity to involve CMS members and the community in getting out in the woods and finding mushrooms. Plus, we were also able to obtain our normal species count data and give out awards for best in show, plus a few others. 

Our announcers for the festival were Cheshire Mayrsohn (CMS) ,  Brad Van Appel (MPA), and Susie Holmes (LCC). They all dawned mushroom hats and did a fabulous job introducing our 8 invited speakers, plus 12 presentations/workshops recorded by the organizing committee (list below). In between, the Satori Bob String Trio who is always a favorite at the mushroom festival provided musical interludes. We also had an online version of the Fun Fungal Facts Tent along with online mushroom games for kids, and created a Zoom room staffed with ID experts for participants to pop in with their fungal finds for identification.  

In case you are wondering. Yes, we have the stats and the awards from the 2020 Mushroom Show Mycoblitz in iNaturalist.

  • Total # of observations: 2139
  • Total # of species – 356,  You can view the complete list here
  • # of contributing Observers – 198
  • # of identifiers – 82; the primary expert identifier was Noah Siegel who put in countless hours.

And, here is the list of the myco talks, culinary and artistic workshops, and forays:

Title of SegmentSpeaker/Presenter
Opening AnnouncementsBrad Van Appel, Cheshire Mayrsohn, Susie Holmes
Mushroom Hunting on the Oregon CoastRon & Sandy Patton
Our Favorite Mushroom Identification Books  Molly Widmer, Chris Melotti
Scientific Illustration of the Fairy Ring MushroomDr. Roo Vandegrift
Expand your Edible Mushroom Palette  Lee Yamada
Dyeing with Mushrooms  Cheshire Mayrsohn
All about the Cascade Mycological SocietyCMS Video edited by Sandy Patton
Wild Mushroom Preservation TechniquesKristen & Trent Blizzard of Modern Forager
Mushroom Foraging SafelyCMS video edited by Sandy Patton
Edible & Poisonous MushroomsPeg Boulay, Chris Melotti, Matthew Johnson, Ron & Sandy Patton, Lee Yamada
Foraging for Mushrooms SafelyCMS video edited by Sandy Patton
Oregon’s Native TrufflesCharles LeFevre
Exploring the Unknown: Cryptic Mushroom Diversity in your BackyardNoah Siegel
Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms you show knowCMS Experts of the Edible & Poisonous Tent – Peg Boulay, Chris Melotti, Matthew Johnson, Lee Yamada, Ron & Sandy Patton
Mushroom Hunting in the Oregon High CascadesBruce Newhouse, Peg Boulay
Get Growing! Easy at-home Mushroom Cultivation for EveryonePeter McCoy
The Mushroom Hunter’s Kitchen  Chad Hyatt
Mushrooms in the environment: a first introduction to mushroom ecologyElse Villenga
Mycoblitz AwardsBruce Newhouse, Susie Holmes
A Natural and Cultural History of Magic Mushrooms in British Columbia  Andy McKinnon
Closing AnnouncementsBrad Van Appel, Cheshire Mayrsohn, Susie Holmes
Tribute to Freeman RoweCMS video edited by Sandy Patton

Yes, you may still purchase selected presentations from the 2020 virtual Mushroom Festival on the Mount Pisgah Arboretum website.

CMS Member only Forays

Although we cancelled the 2020 Spring forays when the pandemic began. By last June, the CMS Board had put together a plan to resume in person forays for this season.  The number of participants on forays was reduced, only carpooling within your pod, and masks and social distancing were required. We appreciate that everyone understood and cooperated. In the end, we held 10 forays with 93 members having the opportunity to attend. We are hoping to have a little more normalcy and more people on next year’s forays.

Community Forays & Classes

Due to our friend COVID-19, Amazon cancelled all in person events and did not ask us to offer any virtual events.  We are happy to report we already have these community classes and forays on the Amazon schedule for the coming year.

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.

The last scholarship awarded by CMS was in May of 2019. We have not had anyone apply since the 2018/2019 season. To encourage more applications, the CMS Board did voted to change the limit of a single scholarship per person during their lifetime to a single scholarship per person per degree cycle. This will permit someone to receive a scholarship during their undergraduate, masters, and doctorate degrees. They are still required to apply for and meet all of the scholarship requirements for each scholarship including a presentation to CMS on their fungal research.

CMS did provide a grant to the Macrofungi of Lane County Oregon project in the amount of $1050 for DNA sequencing of 50 mushroom specimens. Be sure to read the next section on MLCO to learn the results of those efforts.

We also issued a $200 grant to the Eugene Public Library for the purchase of several fungi related books:

  • Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast (2 copies)
  • Mushrooms of the Northwest: A simple guide to common mushrooms (2 copies)
  • Mushrooms of Mary’s Peak (2 copies)
  • The Fungarium (2 copies)
  • Fantastic Fungi (4 copies)
  • We are fungi (1 copy)

Macrofungi of Lane County Oregon (MLCO)

The taxonomic arm of CMS was very busy during COVID.  They (mostly Bitty Roy) worked on figuring out what our sequences mean.  Most people think that when you sequence a mushroom, you get “an answer”.  We wish it was that simple.  GenBank, the database where sequences go, is a mess because it does not allow second party (non-author) determinations.  So, there are many misidentified sequences and many names without the current taxonomy.  By using distance trees you can figure out which sequences are most likely misidentified and by using pairwise identity you can figure out which sequences yours match to, but then you have to search for each close match in the literature to see what has happened to its taxonomy.  Then, once that is done, if there are remaining questions, we contact specialists.  All of this is very time consuming.

In summary we have sequenced 138 fungi since 2019, 81 of which were done this last year and anther 43 are “in line” at the sequencing facility (BOLD).  COVID has really slowed sequencing down because all lab supplies (pipette tips and microfuge tubes) are back ordered due to being used in COVID testing.      

Of the fungi we have sequenced, 15/138 (10.8%) failed, leaving a remainder of 123 sequenced.  Of these 10/123 (8%) are possibly new species–more work is needed to verify this, and the rest have been determined to the best of our ability.  Here is a googlesheet with the list of what we have sequenced and our taxonomic determinations.

We include all sequences in the iNat observations, which are thus 100% open to the public.  Here is a link to the project where we keep all the observations (269) that have been vouchered, which includes all the ones that have been sequenced.

Below is the summary of the various iNat projects we maintain as of 12 June 21:

Macrofungi of Lane County Oregon

  • Total observations: 24,795
  • Total species: 1,334
  • #people/contributors: 2,172

Woodchip Fungi of Lane County Oregon

  • Total observations: 159
  • Total species: 48
  • #people/contributors: 56

Vouchered Macrofungi of Lane County Oregon

  • Total observations: 269
  • Total species: 154
  • #people/contributors: 17

To keep abreast of the MLCO project, check out the MLCO News & Updates page.

CMS Members in the Community

Because we did not have in person meetings at the Amazon Community Center, the city of Eugene did not ask us to do our normal community classes and forays. But, I am happy to say that we are already on Amazons schedule for the fall.

We did have a few CMS members break out of their COVID bubbles to give presentations and walks during the year. Bob Blanchard talked about mushrooms to the 5th & 6th graders at the Country Lane Classroom, Bruce Newhouse did a virtual presentation on finding and enjoying wild mushrooms to McKenzie River trust, Joe Spivack did an in person mushroom walk at Hendricks Park, and Bitty Roy gave an INAT presentation that was titled “Dynamics of prairie-associated Fungi and rare plant species in remnant prairies of the PNW.”

Web & Communications Team Highlights

The major change is that we are now a team, rather than an island of one. In October of 2020 Erica Huston began editing the CMS Enews and Matt Mathiason volunteered to help Sandy Patton with the CMS website in January of 2021. Following are a summary of new website features and the statistics of our various online media platforms:

  • You may now receive automatic notices of postings to the CMS website on your mobile devices and desktop. There are no annoying pop-ups asking you to receive them. But, if you click on the small bell icon (shown right) located on the bottom right of your screen while on the website you can subscribe to notifications. Be sure to do this separately on each device.
  • CMS members now have access to video recordings of CMS meetings. Logged in members may view them here. We hope to be able to continue this practice.
  • Additions to the CMS Members Only Blog include: How to Identify Candycap mushrooms, the Edible Mushroom Forecast Series, and the Virtual Festival Mushroom Hunting Videos. Note: You must be logged in to access these.
  • The featured articles “Ron’s Mushroom Musings” in the CMS Enews, are all now on the CMS website and accessible here. Below are links to each newsletter, with a note of Ron’s monthly musings:
    • May 2021 – Just another Shaggy Mushroom, or is it?

CMS Board of Directors

Cheshire Mayrsohn – Mushroom Festival Lichen Display

This year, all of the CMS Board planning activities happened on Zoom. The 2019/2020 Board of Directors are listed below. We started the year with 6 members and ended with 9. After 8 years as CMS President, Cheshire Mayrsohn stepped away from the board in March of 2021 to spend more time with her mom; who moved to Eugene. We thank Cheshire for her many years of service on the CMS Board and hope she will stay active. Actually, we know she will!.

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, president@cascademyco.org
  • Vice President/Speaker Coordinator: Chris Melotti
  • Treasurer: Eugena Mathiason (joined February 2021)
  • Secretary:  Erin Brown
  • Membership Chairperson & Newsletter Editor: Erika Huston (joined January 2021)
  • Foray Coordinator: Matthew Johnson
  • Lee Yamada – NAMA laison
  • Bob Blanchard
  • Matt Mathiason – web team (joined October 2020)
  • Dylan Eckert (joined January 2021)

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