Hiram College
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Hiram College student Neil Zook prepares a specimen list at the Ohio Mushroom Society fall foray for his class, Systematics of Non-vascular Plants.

Mushroom scouters by the dozens descended into the shadows of the forest at Hiram College’s James H. Barrow Field Station last weekend. They scoured the landscape, crawled through leaf litter and inspected rotting logs in search of Dead Man’s Fingers, Stinkhorns, Goat’s Beard, Earthstars and other fungi. The event, The Ohio Mushroom Society fall foray, drew amateur and professional mycologists from around the region and beyond, including an expert from Louisiana and the director of the Pittsburgh Mushroom Society.

Walt Sturgeon, a nationally known field mycologist with more than four decades of mushrooming experience, highlighted the event with a keynote address. He joined other experts, including event organizer Debra Shankland, a Cleveland Metroparks naturalist and board chair of the Ohio Mushroom Society, to identify the found specimens.

“A foray is not about collecting edible mushrooms. Some of these were certainly found, although the experts are careful to caution people about dangerous and even deadly look-alikes,” explains Matthew Sorrick, director of Hiram College’s Center for Science Education and Northwoods Field Station. “Rather, the foray is a scientific ‘bioblitz’ of sorts. Ultimately, the goal is to generate a species list that can be created and recorded.”

The mycologists identified at least 105 species during the event. Sorrick points out that the findings help determine long-term habitat changes and also give professors and students species to add to their teaching and class project collections.