With summer turning into autumn, September is a great time of year to see mushrooms in the forest. Mushrooms are a type of sporocarp, or the fruiting body of fungi, and the month of September offers just the right temperature and soil moisture for fungi to fruit. We love the beauty of the forest floor filled with sporocarps during September; it’s a great time of year for a mushroom foray! “What is a mushroom foray?” you might ask. It is an organized hike where a group of people head into the forest and look for mushrooms. Sometimes the group is organized to hunt for edible mushrooms; other times it is for a scientific study; and sometimes it is just to enjoy the beauty of the mushrooms! You can join us for a foray at Holden Arboretum on September 18th! The purpose of our foray will be to learn about Ohio’s native mushrooms and how to identify them and will be led by Claudia Bashian-Victoroff. We hope you can join us for a fun morning!
Not only do we have experience at Holden Forests and Gardens for finding naturally-occurring mushrooms, but we also have experience in cultivating our own! At Working Woods, we have used tree-tops left over from tree harvesting for log inoculations. This type of cultivation uses logs (and we had perfect ones left over from the tree harvesting) and inoculates them with mushroom spawn (or fungal tissue), and then mushrooms grow from the log. The purpose of Working Woods is to provide a living laboratory and demonstration site for landowners to explore sustainable options for woodland management. Using the left-over logs from tree harvests is a great way for us to use this land sustainably. Jessica Miller is going to share her knowledge of log inoculations during two class sessions on September 25th. Participants will experience all steps in the inoculation and receive a log to take home for growing mushrooms outdoors!
We are also excited to share with you some of our favorite mushroom books and recipes all month long. Stay tuned each week for more book reviews and recipes in the Science on Fridays with Holden! For today, Claudia Bashian-Victoroff reviews a book about amateur mycology and citizen science and shares a recipe passed down from her great-grandmother!
In Search of Mycotopia: Citizen Science, Fungi Fanatics, and the Untapped Potential of Mushrooms by Doug Bierend, reviewed by Claudia Bashian-Victoroff
I first met Doug Bierend at the New Moon Mycology Summit, a justice focused, mycology centered event co-created by Olga Tzoga of Smugtown Mushrooms and CoRenewal. Doug was on something of a ‘tour-de-fungus’ doing research for his new book, In Search of Mycotopia. Published in March of 2021, In Search of Mycotopia takes readers on a dive through the worlds of amateur mycology and citizen science, highlighting the people and projects pushing the fungal frontier. This book is basically the who’s who of the non-academic mycology world, as it is today. Centering conversations around justice and sustainability, this is a must read for anyone interested in the interactions between science and society within the world of mycology.
Armenian Rice Pilaf with Hen of the Woods (6-8 servings, vegetarian, gluten free optional)
This recipe was passed down from Claudia Bashian-Victoroff’s great grandmother, Esguhe Kojabashian. Claudia added her own little myco twist to an old classic. Claudia is a PhD student at the Holden Arboretum.
1 stick of butter
3 cups of extra thin egg noodles or gluten free egg noodles
1 cup of converted rice
2-3 cups of water mixed with ~1 tablespoon of chicken or veggie bouillon
1 qt fresh hen of the woods (Grifola frondosa)
1. Cut Grifola into medium sized sections and sauté in a hot skillet with butter. Mushrooms like a lot of butter and space, so be careful not to overcrowd your pan.
2. Meanwhile, brown egg noodles in 1 stick of butter, stirring occasionally. Watch the noodles carefully so as to not burn them.
3. When the noodles are browned add rice, bouillon, and water. Cook until rice and noodles are tender and just a bit of water remains in the pan.
4. Add the sautéed Grifola and stir lightly but constantly until the water is fully absorbed.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste
Suggested pairing: Red wine or pomegranate seltzer!
Important note: Whenever you are collecting and eating a wild mushroom practice caution. Use a reliable guide to identify the fungus and confirm your identification with a mycologist. When you are certain about the identity of the fungus, cook and eat a small amount before having a large meal as some individuals are sensitive to some species. Remember: there are old foragers and bold foragers but there are no old, bold foragers.
Claudia Bashian-Victoroff, MS
I am a fungal ecologist focused on connections between soil fungi and tree health. My research couples field collections with modern molecular identification methods to investigate ectomycorrhizal species diversity and function. As a research specialist in Dr. David Burke’s lab at the Holden Arboretum, I support research on soil ecology and forest pathology. Currently, I focus on the role of soil fungi in urban canopy restoration in Cleveland, OH. Trees growing in urbanized environments are subject to pressures such as habitat fragmentation, exposure to heavy metals, and soil compaction. Mycorrhizal fungi can enhance plant growth, disease resistance, and drought tolerance; therefore, it is necessary that we establish a better understanding of how these fungi might improve outcomes of urban restoration efforts. Beyond this, I enjoy discussing the importance of fungal research and conservation with diverse audiences through teaching, writing, and mentorship.