Colorado Mycological Society 2018 Mushroom Fair: THE AFTERMATH!

Whew! Whatta weekend. This year’s Colorado Mycological Society fair saw a record crowd.  Over 2200 people walked through the doors of Mitchell Hall at Denver Botanic Gardens. While by all external measures indicating this year to be a dry year, we still managed to collect the metadata of: collector ID, date, location, and, to some degree, habitat and lat/long coordinates, for over 550 collections of macrofungi in two days.

I have to give a big thanks to our fair identifier, Dr. Michael Kuo.  That man was a machine, providing identifications for 286 specimens. This production took place from 1 pm on Saturday until late into the evening, and continued on early Sunday until he had to leave around 2pm to catch his flight.

The preliminary count stands at 141 species of macrofungi that came through the fair. We stress this number as ‘preliminary’ because it includes all of the specimens identified as ‘sp.’, which were counted only once per genus, and for several genera there were many specimens identified only to ‘sp.’. This include Cortinarius and Russula, each having 26 specimens identified as ‘sp.’, and genera such as Inocybe and Galerina, which had 7 and 6 respectively.

The ‘star’ of the fair (perhaps ignominiously) was a rather putrid species of Gautieria which produce these intense phenolic compounds that are reminiscent of some strong petroleum like chemical, or a rather pungent cheese.  In describing this fungus to the public, and it’s design to attract rodents as vectors of spore dispersal, I’d say I came across equal numbers of people who found the smell either pleasant or disgusting.

In the end, we collected a subset of all of these specimens for vouchering in the Sam Mitchel Herbarium of Fungi. While we would love to have captured more of the diversity, a combination of rotting specimens, insufficient quality of the collection (too few representatives), and need for better coordination prevented us from capturing a better cross section of what came through the fair. However, in terms of documenting the meta data for each of the specimens, I think our efforts were a great success.  I’m already looking forward to next year to up our game even more!

Acknowledgements: A big thank you to our guest fair identifier, Dr. Michael Kuo. You sir set a standard that is hard to beat! Big ups to fellow Colorado Mycoflora Project comrade, Amy Honan who came all the way over from Crested Butte to help out at the fair. To the Colorado Mycological Society for putting on yet another smashing event. Also grateful for the amazing help of Trina Wilson, Michael McKibben, Danila Romanov, Ed and Ikuko Lubow, Linda Plessinger, Ellen Jacobson, and Eddie Elzarian.

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The Gautieria that ‘funked’ up the herbarium with its petroleum/cheesy odor. Fortunately only a few of us were exposed to its funk when fresh. Dried it was still odorous, but much more tolerable.

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Some amazing Laccaria collections came through the Fair.

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The Fair is also a good place to recruit future mycologists.

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L-R: Michael Kuo, Amy Honan, Vera Evenson, Andrew Wilson.

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