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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Help for Local Mushroom Hunters

Apr 01, 2014 04:21PM ● By Linda Sechrist

©Benjamin Dion

Benjamin Dion, a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University, first became fascinated with mushrooms on a hike three years ago. “I saw some cool mushrooms on the side of a trail and wanted to know more about them, which gave my hiking a real purpose,” says the nature photography buff, who majors in environmental studies and biology.

Dion, known as “Mykes Logos” in the mushroom world, has coveted Paul Stamets Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World as his favorite book on mushrooms, and suggests that amateur mushroom hunters should post photos of the local fungi that they find on “It’s a great website that anyone can use to find out if the mushrooms they find are edible. Just post a picture on the website of the stem, gills and cap, as well as the type of soil or log you found the mushroom on. All of this, including information about surrounding trees, taste of the mushroom and color of the spore print helps professional and amateur mycologists from all over the world to identify the species,” says Dion.

“Most poisonous mushrooms, like many Amanita and Russula species, are usually found in disturbed, degraded habitats, whereas common edible mushrooms such as oysters (Pleurotus pulmonarius), ringless honey mushrooms (Armillaria tabescens), and chanterelles (Cantharellus sp.) are found in our area’s untouched oak hammocks and conservation lands. Turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) and reishi (Ganoderma tsugae) grow here as well, but are only useful for medicinal purposes. The best time to go mushroom hunting is during the summer and fall months,” advises Dion, who is one of the service learning coordinators at the FGCU Food Forest. “A forest could not exist without fungi and the mycelium that holds everything together.”