Summer Mushrooms and Lichens
Instructor: Tim Wheeler
June 19 at 7 a.m. – June 20 at 4 p.m.
This course will provide a thorough introduction to fungi and the role they play in the northern Rockies ecosystem. We will study approximately 40 genera of fungi, their macroscopic features, spores and ecological niches. We will look at the ecological role of fungi in forest ecosystems and the effect mushrooms can have on management practices. Since spring and fall species are quite different, be sure to sign up for our Fall Mushroom course to get a complete mushroom experience.
Meeting Place: Glacier Institute Field Camp
Itinerary (subject to change):
Day 1: We will begin the day at 7 a.m. with questions, discussions, and slide viewing throughout the early morning, and then depart for prime mushroom habitat near Glacier in the Flathead National Forest. We will learn to identify and study the complexities of local mushrooms and search for mushrooms growing in such specialized habitats as melting snow banks and recent forest burns. We will seek out the different ecological niches- riparian, sylvan, and open lands- of northern Rockies fungi and we will search to find several species in each site. Students will get a glimpse of the enormous number of fungi that are the source of nutrition for the entire forest. We will harvest mushrooms throughout the day and bring them back to Field Camp for closer viewing.
After dinner, depending on interest, we will regroup for an extensive presentation over different spore groups. We often have a potluck dinner, with a sampling of the various edible mushrooms collected during the day. With over thousands of slides from which to choose, we will glimpse a bit into the wide array of fungi that inhabit the Northwest. We will uncover the amazing life cycles of these varied species of fungi, and discuss the overall importance of mushrooms in a healthy habitat.
Day 2: After spending the morning roaming through a new habitat type, we will sit down to identify the most curious of our finds. The final lecture will summarize the groups of fungi, the hallmarks of field identification and a summary of the genera covered in class. The course will end by 4 p.m. and will not be cancelled due to weather.
Food: The following meals are included: lunch on Day 1 through lunch on Day 2.
Accommodations: One night of lodging is included into the course fee. Our student cabins are basic, hostel-style cabins with 5 single beds, bedside lights, and electrical outlets. Students should be prepared to share a cabin with up to 4 other people, cabins are separated by gender. Couples may be paired up in the event there is ample space. We provide a bottom sheet for your bed as well as a pillow and pillow case, but please bring a warm sleeping bag. Be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp for night trips to the bathroom.
Course Equipment: You will receive a Field Camp gear list once you register. Most importantly are comfortable hiking shoes, snacks, water bottle at least 1-2 liters, backpack, rain gear, hat, and sunscreen. Weather can be varied, especially in the spring and fall, so please be prepared with appropriate clothing, with extra warm layers. A field journal and pencil to take notes while you learn and any field guides that you like to use are optional. If you have a basket that you like to use for collecting mushrooms please bring it along. We will provide paper bags for specimens. Please bring fresh samples of any mushrooms you have found in the week prior to class.
Physical Requirements: Moderate hikes, with less than one mile and 500 feet elevation gain. We will mostly be hiking off-trail through both open and dense stands of forest, searching for our fungal friends.