Saturday, October 13, 2012

2012 COMA Rogerson Foray

Happy Mushroom People at the 2012 COMA Rogerson Foray

Through a generous scholarship from CVMS, Robert, Gillian and I were able to attend one full day of the 34th Clark Rogerson COMA Foray on September 15. We went on a collection foray, participated in the foray identifications, attended the mycophagy session, took a dip in Camp Hemlocks’ pool, and attended Gary Lincoff’s slide show and presentation. Gillian even managed to win an award for her drawing on her favorite mushroom, the artist’s conk (Ganoderma applanatum), presented by Gary.

Gary Lincoff

We arrived early to the Camp Hemlocks facility, around 8AM, to try to sign up for a collection walk. The weather had been dry for more than a week so we wondered if many mushrooms would be found. Fellow CVMS member Bill Yule took a group to Nehantic State Forest in Lyme, but CVMS member Connie Borodenko wondered if there was a wetter area we might explore, and Robert and I suggested the Sellew Preserve in East Hampton. We headed out with Connie and Rhoda Rhodes to the nearby preserve, and almost immediately after we headed down the first hill, Robert found a chicken (Laetiporus sulphureus). He and Connie ended up with two grocery bags full at the end of the walk. Robert and Gillian bounded ahead to find many Cortinarius iodes and assorted Amanitas, while Rhoda and I took a lower path and walked slowly, looking for wood decayers and other small fungi. I found a small Fistulina hepatica and some cute hairy-topped Inocybes, while Rhoda grabbed some turkey tails (Trametes versicolor) and many Trichaptum biformes. We took a quick break for lunch and then drove over to an isolated spot at Salmon River State Forest on the way back where we picked up a few Cantharellus cinnabarinus and many Ganoderma applanatum for Gillian’s use.

Josh and puffball
Trying to identify
After we returned to the Hemlocks facility, Connie jumped right into identification, while I gave it a try. At this kind of foray, we label each find with a tag designating the finder, the origin of the specimen including its habitat (on wood, on the ground, hardwood or conifer forest), and the tentative ID. Then one of the official mycologists confirms the ID and moves the specimen to tables arranged by type, such as Boletes, Polypores, gilled fungi, and non-gilled fungi. Gillian took this time to run Carol Lambiase’s dog, Bolt, around the grounds. The official mycologists included our own Bill Yule, John Plishke from Pennsylvania, Roz Lowen, and Gary Lincoff. One of the most impressive finds of the day was a giant puffball (Calvatia gigantia) by Josh Hutchins, which he posed with happily.

 We eagerly anticipated the mycophagy session at 4PM, and CVMS and COMA members Joe and Kathy Brandt had promised a feast. The volunteers had been working all day in the kitchen to cook and present the buffet, featuring a lot of the sulphur shelf that had been found over the weekend. Some of the dishes included Lobster (Hypomyces lactiflorum) Quiche, Cinnabar Chanterelles with Saffron Rice, “Chicken” Felafels, Mushroom Risotto, and Oyster Mushroom Soup. Gillian then went to splash in the pool for an hour while we socialized with COMA members and revisited the ID room.

The finale of the evening was the presentation by Gary Lincoff in the auditorium. There was a silent auction and awards ceremony. He discussed the inter-relationships of fungi, plants, and animals, and the exchange of nutrients between them with a slide show. We were also excited to pick up Gary Lincoff’s new book, The Joy of Foraging, and have him sign it, along with our dog-eared copy of the Audubon Society mushroom book.

Bill and John, identifying
After a long 12 hour day, we returned home having met many new people and exploring the 350+ species found over the weekend. We did miss a few presentations that took place on Friday night, including one on Boletes by Bill Yule, which we hope he repeats someday. Robert took lots of photos, and while Gillian may have wished there were some kids around, she had a great time hanging out with Connie at the pool and hiking at the preserve. I took some of my first steps toward identifying some fungi with confidence, and enjoyed the social interactions with fellow enthusiasts. 

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