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2 Collecting, Documenting, and Preserving Mushrooms Equipment Collecting mushrooms for study does not require much in the way of equipment; a pocket knife, some waxed paper bags, a marker, insect repellent, and a basket will suffice. You will need the pocket knife in order to dig mushrooms up (preserving their underground parts) and to remove some of the tougher species from logs and such. The waxed paper bags are what you will use to store your mushrooms. Several companies make waxed paper sandwich bags; these are the best mushroom holders. If you cannot get waxed paper bags, brown paper sandwich bags are the next-best option. Plastic bags are a bad idea. Mushrooms tend to sweat, especially in hot weather, and you are likely to have a wet mess on your hands if you put them in plastic bags. The marker is for taking notes; although some people use a pen and a notepad, we find that writing directly on the waxed paper bags is a convenient method, especially when it comes to sorting out later which notes correspond to which mushrooms. Ecology, Ecology, Ecology! Mushrooms have evolved along with plants and animals as integral parts of complex ecosystems. It should be obvious that understanding mushrooms, therefore, depends on understanding the whole picture . Recording ecological data when you collect mushrooms is often essential to identifying them later. The checklist on page 9 provides some suggestions for collecting ecological data. Pleurotus pulmonarius (p. 315) 9 Collecting, Documenting, and Preserving Mushrooms Collection Methods In order to have much success at all in identifying mushrooms, you will probably need to have multi­ ple specimens representing all stages of the mushroom’s development. Pick mushrooms in good condition, selecting buttons, medium-sized specimens, and mature mushrooms. Most mushrooms make substantial changes in their appearance during their brief lives, and you will frequently need to know what these changes are in order to identify them. While this “all-stages” rule applies pretty much all the time, it is especially important with species of Russula, Corti­ narius, and boletes. Successful identification of some mushrooms will often depend on whether or not you know what is going on with your mushroom at the base of its stem. Many species of Amanita have a characteristic volva enclosing the base of the stem; other mushrooms may have a tap root, like Xe­ rula furfuracea (p. 394) and Polyporus radicatus (p. 323). So you will need to “dig up” mushrooms —but, as you do, please try not to cause unnecessary damage to the soil or wood they are growing in. Try not to handle the stems of mushrooms—especially small ones—if at all possible , since mushroom stems have very subtle and ephemeral features that can be obliterated with handling. For examples , see the tiny flakes on the upper stem of Flammulaster erina­ ceellus (p. 176), the tiny ring on the stem of the Little Brown Amanita (p. 99), and the densely but finely hairy stem surface of Xeromphalina tenuipes (p. 393). Place four or five specimens in the same waxed paper bag, leave the top of the waxed paper bag open or very loosely folded, and place the bag in your basket. Avoid piling things on Date: Location: County & State: Ecosystem: GROWTH: ❑ Solitary ❑ Scattered ❑ Gregarious ❑ Clustered SUBSTRATE for terrestrial mushrooms: ❑ Soil ❑ Moss ❑ Sphagnum ❑ Litter Litter type if clearly associated: Apparent mycorrhizal associate (if any): SUBSTRATE for wood-decomposing mushrooms: ❑ Standing, live ❑ Standing, dead ❑ Stump ❑ Log ❑ Stick ❑ Base of tree ❑ Above ground ❑ Decorticated ❑ Partially decorticated ❑ Bark adnate Rot type: Identity of tree (if possible): Trees within 20 feet: Further Information: 10 Collecting, Documenting, and Preserving Mushrooms top of one another. If you are hunting mushrooms on a hot day, be sure to store your basket in a shaded and ventilated place for the car ride home. As you begin to develop your mushroom identification skills, you will find that some details may need to be checked “in the field” for some mushrooms. Some Lactarius species, for example, contain a very scant amount of milk, or “latex.” Since you will probably need to know what color the latex is and whether it changes color on exposure to air, you may need to record this information when the mushroom is still very fresh, especially if the mushroom has a long ride in a hot car ahead of it. There are several other examples of mushrooms that may require information to be recorded in the field; experience will help you decide what you need...


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