Mushroom Hunting Identification Hike

Notes about mushroom hunting – by Susan Sward

On Saturday November 16, members of the GNSI-NE and guests gathered at Susan Sward’s house in Charlestown, RI for a fabulous Guided Mushroom Hunting Class. Ryan Bouchard and Emily Schmidt from the Mushroom Hunting Foundation took us on a guided walk through Susan’s wooded property which borders the Indian Cedar Swamp Management Area, an over 900 acre, pristine wetland. The land was previously a state wildlife management area. It was transferred to the Narragansett Indian Tribe as part of the Settlement Act in 1978.

Emily took the lead outside, and quickly pointed out a cluster of Trichaptum biforme, commonly known as a violet-toothed polypore on Susan’s family’s woodpile. Our walk through the woods was like a grown-up scavenger hunt. Members wandered along the paths, shouting to the rest of the group when a new species was sighted. Our knowledgeable guide Emily would identify each fungus, moss, and lichen we showed her, providing not only the common name, but the binomial nomenclature name in Latin as well as lots of information about growing conditions, medicinal and/or culinary uses, and much more.

Later, back in Susan’s warm and toasty studio, Ryan presented a 60-minute slide presentation with Emily and Ryan’s gorgeous mushroom photographs.  Their teaching focused on mushrooms that are safe for beginners (they have a different slideshow for each of the four seasons); anecdotes of their years spent foraging, information about cooking with mushrooms,  and the background of mushroom science and safety. This was followed by a 30-minute Q&A. Our afternoon ended with some hot homemade chili and a gift for each of us from Ryan and Emily, Ryan’s publication Gourmet Mushrooms of the Northeast.