The 2020 Virtual Fall Mushroom Show

By Paul Hill

We are doing the annual show! This year it is virtual. Register at the PSMS website.

I thought it would be fun to explain what it takes to put on a show and for all those members who have helped over the years, we all can relive the experience. For all those members who haven’t volunteered to help helping at the fall show is a great opportunity to get involved and meet lots of mushroom people. This is how it all happens.

In the weeks before a show, speakers are lined up, and vendors are coordinated, supplies for the show are ordered, and volunteers are lined up for everything from ticket taking, to doing demonstrations, to providing snacks for the 100+ volunteers working at the show. The challenges with any venue are that speakers need a good convenient, but separate space to give presentations.

There has to be space for vendors without sticking them down a hall where people won’t see them.

Of course the central part of the show are the many tables of mushroom displays built from mushrooms brought in by members who pick them as close to the show date as possible.

The first show way back in 1964 was in the Pacific Science Center at the Seattle Center campus just two years after the Seattle World Fair. In fact member #1 was the first director of PacSci, Dixie Lee Ray. As the years went by the show has been in a surprising number of locations. It eventually settled into where we have our monthly meetings at the Center for Urban Horticulture on the University of Washington Campus . By the early 2000’s we were out growing that.
PSMS 2013 Fall Show at the Mountaineers building . Time for a bigger venue!
Recent venues have included The Mountaineers building out on Sand Point Way; Bellevue College, our first show outside of the City of Seattle; and for 2018 and 2019 the show was at North Seattle College.

Who knew that we’d go virtual in 2020!

So much goes on behind the scenes to put on a show!

We haul tables, lamps, displays, mushroom kit supplies, books to sell, cooking demonstration supplies, and lots of other stuff from our storage.

A large amount of what we bring are the tables and mushroom trays. Some of the trays are more than 50 years old! Every now and then we have to replace a few.

The night and morning before the show opens, members bring in fresh mushrooms gathered from near and far. Some years members have to go farther than other years, but we always have something to show. As we occasionally get asked; no we do not grow the mushrooms ourselves. Most don’t take to domestication, so we have to search them out in the forest and lawns.

Friday and into Saturday, the mushrooms are sorted by genus.

Meanwhile, many trays are filed with sand ready for creating trays.

The morning before the show opens, volunteers arrange trays by genus or a few related genera.

While trays are being built all the tables and displays are assembled.

To the tables are added decorations, lights, signage, sound systems, projections, posters etc. waiting for vendors to set up, demonstration to be added, and then cooks, crafts demonstrators, helpful floor walkers, and expert identifiers to main their stations.

Coordination is essential between the head tray producer and the head tray wrangler. It is not known until late in the game how many trays of what kinds will end up getting built, because every year is different. The two of them keep an eye on how things are developing while everyone scurries around to get the trays built and onto the floor.

The experts find and label each species on each tray once it is arranged.

Tray building continues through the morning. Now, you know why we don’t open until somewhere near mid-day.

Multiple groups of volunteers help build trays while others are sorting the continuously arriving mushroom.

Once trays are built, the identifiers correct and add any last minute changes. While others haul trays into position.

Eventually, rows of trays on tables come together and signs are arranged, but often this requires moving trays between rows of tables to get the final organization.

By opening, all the mushrooms are arranged, and ready for 1000-2000 visitors to visit the show each day.

Also ready to go are setups like this mushroom-dyed yarn display and demonstration.

Here is a little know step. Once everyone goes home on Saturday, the mushroom trays are misted and covered. All those warm bodies crowded in the main room during the day heats things up and dries out the displays.

The next morning some of the trays need some refreshing. Hopefully, some members have spied a few inky caps somewhere in town to replace the deliquescing Coprinus, Coprinopsis, and Coprinellus species which have turned black or just wilted over the last twenty four hours. Other species which need replacement include large boletes which often come to the show already buggy.

On Sunday it all begins again. We open the doors for another 1000 or more visitors.

There are more cooking demonstrations.

Another day of identifying by the experts of mushrooms brought in by show attendees. The identifiers are rarely stumped.

More teams of friendly volunteers staff the show on Sunday.

Luckily Puget Sound Mycological Society is full of friendly and knowledgeable volunteers, ready to put on a show and share their knowledge and love of all things mushroom.

At the end of the second day, all the mushrooms are removed from the trays. This is trickier than you might think, because there are nails holding up the base of many mushrooms just like in flower arrangements.

All the mushrooms, all the sand, and all the forest, field, and lawn decorations are sent off to be composted.

After packing all of our equipment into a truck, all the volunteers who are still around head out for an after party for pizza and beer, but the tasks are not done.

The next day all the tables, boxes, displays, and equipment are hauled back to storage to await another PSMS Wild Mushroom Show.

The 2020 show may be in cyberspace, but expect Puget Sound Mycological Society to be back again live for another Fall Wild Mushroom Show. I don’t expect the club to miss a show no matter the obstacles in its way. After all, we’ve been doing this over and over since 1964. See you next year!

May you fill your basket with mushrooms and your soul with adventures.
-Paul Hill



Crotalus viridis 2

Crotalus viridis oreganus, the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake

by Brady Raymond


Yes, snakes.  “isn’t this a mushroom blog?” Yeah, it’s a mushroom blog but Deviating From The Norm can be a good thing once and awhile especially when you find yourself in drier regions with few mushrooms around.  Snakes have certainly been on my mind lately and I hope they will be on your mind too this spring.  I grew up in Michigan, (southern lower peninsula) and every summer I would catch snakes, almost exclusively Garter Snakes, but I did see a few Water Snakes, Racers, and Hog-Nosed Snakes.  Once I even found a small Milk Snake.  I was young but I remember being extremely excited, they are such beautiful snake and rare in at least my experience.  My dream snake, however, was always Rattlesnakes.  I had dreams of the South, more specifically the Southwest.  The desert seemed so exotic compared to my Midwestern home and that is where as a youngster, I imagined all the Rattlers were.

Ironically, there are Rattlesnakes in Michigan.  My Grandfather and other old-timers I knew would talk of the little buggers being under piles of hay around the farm and near to swamps, which is what Michigan mostly was a century ago.  The Rattlers found in Michigan are the Massasauga Rattlesnakes and I have only seen the shed skin of one brought to school by a classmate.  I imagine they were mostly wiped out by the farmers as more land was converted to agriculture and then to housing.  If there are any in Michigan now, they are most likely confined to the thickets, marshes and swamps where folks rarely venture.

I’ve spent some time down in the Southeast and Southwest too, yet I have never stumbled across a Rattlesnake, and trust me when I say I was looking for them.  I’ve turned over plenty of rocks and logs in my day (always turn them back the way you found them) but I was never lucky enough to spot one of these beauties, until now.

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Morel Count, I’m at two

Salixland Morel 2

My second Morel of the year.  At this rate I expect to find five or six total this season.

By Brady Raymond

Things were looking good at the end of winter, sufficient snowpack, and some late winter rain but then a dry spell.  Over here, east of the Cascades the last couple of weeks have been warm and dry.  Dry enough ironically to put a damper on my mushrooming mood. Today, however, the rains did come and it looks like they will extend into next week. I got myself a bit of a good omen and stumbled across another Morel only a few feet away from where I had found my first Morel of the year.  I snapped off a few shots then decided to snoop around a bit and see if I could spot a few more.

As I circled around some brush I saw a yellow laser streak in front of me across the damp ground. My mushrooming focus now tuned into snake vision, I reassessed my naturing priorities and the hunt for the serpent was on.  The snake, small, only a youngster really, caught cover under the corner of a large concrete chunk.  I thought I had lost it but with a little gentle prodding and the snake emerged from its shelter.  I captured it and after a few seconds of squirming and discharging a foul-smelling musk, it decided I wasn’t a threat and calmed down.  I was deep in shade and as if on cue, a gust of wind blew on the canopy of Willow above, allowing the evening rays of the Sun to penetrate down to the snake in my hand.  Lighting went from bad to good in an instant, I took advantage of the situation and snapped the photo below.  Look for an article about my adventures snaking to follow this story soon.

Garter Snake 5

Newborn Valley Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi.  Garter Snakes give “birth” to live young.

My second Morel of the year and an encounter with the beautiful Valley Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi left me giddy and with a touch of the fuzzies.  Then I remembered spotting some mushrooms the day before, just up the trail on the exposed roots of a wind-toppled Willow tree. I had to bushwhack my way through standing dead to reach the specimens, which from across the creek looked to be Coprinellus micaceus, and upon closer inspection that is the name I gave them.

It was kind of a difficult shot, which had me lying prone on a mat of sticks and twigs and below that was a black soupy muck.  If I applied too much pressure to a knee or elbow seepage of this muck into my clothing was inevitable.  The image isn’t a wall hanger but it is good enough as evidence that this species occurs both on my property and on Willow.  I haven’t identified anything down to species but so far I’ve spotted Agaricus, Pholiota, Psathyrella, Galerina, Xylaria, Morchella, and fairy rings in my lawn, evidence left presumably by Marasmius.

Coprinellus micaceus SL

Coprinellus micaceus, or at least that’s what I’m calling it.  DNA studies suggest however-blah, blah, blah.

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Holiday Mushrooms

By Paul Hill

At this time of year as I celebrate some of my favorite holidays my thoughts turn to mushrooms.  Yes, some of us think about mushrooms all year long.

One of  the most famous mushrooms in the world is a big mushroom with a red or orange cap and white warts.  I hardly need to describe any more features; even if they don’t know its name, most people recognize it. Continue reading

Southwestern New Mexico

NM Lichen 1

by Brady Raymond

I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that Morel season may be starting early for me this year, as I jetted across western skies on my way south to Silver City, New Mexico.  I had found a few articles online about mushrooming down yonder but I couldn’t find much on the topic.  All I really had to go on was the weather and as things go around here, things down there seemed just about perfect.  For those of you interested only in mushrooms, I’ll be up front, I didn’t find much.  However, it was a good exercise in getting my eyes tuned up for the season albeit maybe tuned a little sharp as I was looking for cacti.

Silver City is located in Grant County in Southwestern New Mexico, it rests at 5900 ft. and is home to around 10,000 people.  I’ve visited this region some fourteen years earlier on a road trip with a friend just out of high school and things still looked pretty much the same.  One thing that caught my attention on this trip was the incredible abundance of lichen, all sorts of the stuff coating rock and tree alike.  I’m no lichen expert so these couple of photos will have to suffice, but trust me when I say it was everywhere, adding little splashes of color to the browns and grays that dominate the landscape.

NM Lichen 2

Lichen, lichen everywhere.

NM Emory Pass 8200ft.

Emory Pass 8200 ft.

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Color In The Dark Of Winter

Waxcaps In Seattle City Parks


Hygrocybe aurantiosplendens

by Paul A. Hill

In the dark days of winter, I’m still thinking of mushrooms, but sometimes they are hard to find.  Luckily in January, I often start seeing Waxcaps in my local wooded city parks. I believe there are at least three species I have spotted over the years in Seward Park on Lake Washington in SE Seattle.  All of the following photos were taken in 2017.  A note on usage, Waxy Caps or Waxcaps are both names used for several related genera in Hygrophoraceae family.  Above is a picture of the common red Hygrocybe with lots of yellow, but little, if any white.  I identify it as H. aurantiosplendens, generally because of the colors and size.

The following photo is of a ragged H. aurantiosplendens showing the orange-red gills.  In January, I often come across these orange-red Hygrocybe which have become tattered.  It appears the mice and slugs in the park nibble on them through the winter.  Since these Hygrocybe seem to be the first ones up in January and there are not very many of them, they seem to suffer more nibbles then those which come up in larger numbers later in the winter.


Hygrocybe aurantiosplendens, this specimen has seen better days.

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Still Going…

IC Hericium abietis

Hericium abietis, Mmm, good.

by Brady Raymond

Fall 2017, is this a mushroom season anyone is going to really remember?  There are mushrooms to be found and an acceptable diversity, but any real quantity seems to be lacking.  Although, quantity is really only important if you are collecting for the pot either for consumption or dyeing.  2017 is probably not the year you would want to start a study on Russulas or Chanterelles.  I have only seen a handful of Russulas this year and most were what other folks had collected.  As far as Chanterelles are concerned the most I’ve seen in one place was the grocery store and they were selling for $17.98 at one point.  I have only found a few handfuls of them myself this year, enough though for Erin to make a few dishes, but none to share.

So, the big question, “Is the season over?”  Well, as evident from the above photo, no it is not.  There are still mushrooms to be found and as long as the weather stays mild as it has been for the last week or so we may be able to milk this season for a while.  I think it’s safe to say that over about 3,000ft. in our area, your chances of finding much of anything are probably limited.  The photo below was taken around 2000ft. and the snow line was not far above that.

IC mt.

The snow line was not far above our elevation of 2000ft.

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NAMA Photo Contest Winners

The North American Mycological Association recently announced the winners of the 2016 photo contest.  PSMS Vice President, Daniel Winkler, was awarded first and second place in the Pictorial category!


First place: Boletus reticuloceps


Second place: Ceratiomyxa sphaerosperma

Congratulations Daniel!  You can see the rest of the winners here.


‘Tis The Season


Erin’s first morel of the year.

by Brady Raymond

They’re Here! I’m happy to report, as some of you probably already know the 2016 Morel season is on. The wife and I headed out April 17th on Highway 2 with the hopes of finding morels. We knew we were taking a chance, heading over Stevens Pass and hanging around 2100ft. in elevation. The temperature seemed right, and we had loads of snow this winter, which means moisture levels had to be at least better than last year, our moral for morels was indeed high. Continue reading