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The Old Man of the Woods

10 Jul

Well it’s out of the bag now that I am interested in collecting mushrooms, and so far I haven’t had to venture beyond my own yard to find many interesting specimens!

I am very new to mycology and still learning a lot about identification, and a positive identification is extremely exciting. Fortunately, my most recent mushroom discovery is an easy one to identify: The Old Man of the Woods (also hanging out with the creepy field of spiders). Not only is this one not deadly, but apparently quite edible!
Correctly identifying this mushroom also helped me to identify another one I had recently collected: The Other Old Man Of The Woods.

Don’t worry, though, I have no interest in eating mushrooms of any kind, so even if I am certain I have positively identified something, I am in no danger if I turn out to be wrong.

It’s becoming apparent that I need to get my hands on a decent quality microscope for help with identification of species, and to that end Chris Bates (one of our newest interns, who’s also helping us make Autoplay better) is letting me borrow one, and longer term I am on the lookout for a deal like this.

For anyone else interested in mushroom identification, this Key to Major Groups of Mushrooms — a sort of choose your own adventure guide for mushroom identification — is an amazing resource. As I did with real choose your own adventure books as a kid, I like to cheat and follow multiple paths simultaneously, because I’m not always sure how to answer some of the questions yet and I like to hedge my bets. Some day, I think it would be neat to build an expert system to help newcomers like myself identify mushrooms by providing their observations and then answering questions (accompanied by pictures wherever possible) and assigning a confidence to those answers. I will of course need time, and access to several experts in order to build such a system, and I am in a severe shortage of both (although MushroomExpert.com is aptly named.)

 
 

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