Sidebar by Bob Berwyn
Mushrooms – August 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine
If you’re interested in exploring the subject and finding edible species, the best way to learn is in the field with an expert. This is very important because if you eat the wrong ones, you may get very sick. and perhaps even die.
The Colorado Mycological Society, with members throughout the state, offers regular mushroom hunting forays during the season. One excursion is slated for the South Park area August 12.
You must be a member of the CMS to participate in forays, but membership is only $23 per year, a great deal that gets you the latest fungal happenings via the group’s newsletter. Call the CMS at 303-320-6569 or 303-377-1278.
For more information on membership and for a schedule of mushroom hunting expeditions, the CMS website is also a good place to get some introductory information. Surf to http://www.angelfire.com/co/mycosociety. For information via snail mail, write to: Colorado Mycological Society, P.O. Box 9621, Denver, CO 80209.
The North American Mycological Society is also online at: http://www.namyco.org
If you believe a mushroom made you sick, call the Rocky Mountain Poison Center at 800-332-3073. Remember that proper treatment of mushroom poisoning depends largely on rapid identification of the type of poison at hand. Always save a sample of any mushrooms you collect and eat.
There are several excellent guidebooks that allow do-it-yourselfers to identify at least a few basic species accurately. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms (Chanticleer Press, 1981) has an extensive listing of species that grow in Colorado and the rest of the continent. The Audubon guide works best when used in conjunction with a new, state-specific guidebook by Vera Stucky Evenson, curator at the herbarium of fungi at the Denver Botanic Garden.
Evenson’s book, Mushrooms of Colorado and the Southern Rocky Mountains (Westcliffe Publishers, Inc., 1997), describes varieties that are commonly found in our state, including edible and poisonous species. Using more than one guidebook allows hunters to cross-reference descriptions and photos for more accurate identification.
It’s crucial to actually read the text in the books, and follow the steps to identification exactly. Don’t just try to match specimens in the field to the pictures. — B.B.