In 1973 twenty members of the NY Mycological Society, residents of geographic Long Island ( which includes the NYC boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens) split off from NYMS and formed a regional entity that would become known as the Long Island Mycological Club. It was felt that an island 120 miles long offered sufficient opportunity for foraging so as not to require the arduous trip off-island north and west of NYC. The emphasis here is on “club”. We are an informal group of like minded lovers of fungi and amateur mycologists (there is a difference), and make no claim to be a learned “society”; the casual nature of our board meetings would strike horror into the heart of devout parliamentarians.
Although we think of ourselves as a young club, it would be more accurate to say that LIMC is middle-aged, insofar as fortyish appears to be about the average age of NAMA affiliated clubs, which range in age from the venerable Boston Club, founded in 1897, to some clubs which first saw the light of day in the 2000’s. The original members were mostly from Brooklyn and Queens, and the rest from Nassau, the westernmost of the two Long Island counties. Over the years, with growing suburbanization the center of gravity of the club’s population has slid inexorably eastward away from NYC with more than 50% of current memberships now residing in Suffolk County. Our total membership has waxed and waned but in recent years hovers around 120 individuals, which seems about average for east coast clubs. In the early years, applicants were vetted to assure that they were serious naturalists.
Sadly, none of the founding members are with us any longer. Our first president and guiding light was Jean Paul Latil, a courtly, witty man whose Thurberesque cartoons continue to be reprinted in our newsletter. His wife Jacqueline was elected vice-president and Marge Morris secretary. Marge was an avid myco-educator who lectured at various schools and inspired many, including Rytas Vilgalys, head of the Vilgalys Mycological Lab at Duke University (pers. comm.). Since then, we have had only four more presidents; there is no club rule whereby a sitting president cannot be reelected. (Full disclosure: the author's wife, Peggy, has been president since 2002.) In fact, there were no established club by-laws until 2000 when our then president Dominick Laudato drew them up and they were approved by the membership.
Since inception our club has held a scheduled foray most every Saturday morning during the season, which is a long one on Long Island, stretching from the end of April to the end of November. This late collecting has enabled us to add uncommon species, particularly of Tricholoma and Hygrophorus, to our ever-growing checklist, which has grown to about 950 species. This effort began in earnest in 2000 with 405 species and every passing year has added from 10 to 50 to the cumulative total. This checklist is publicly accessible on our website limyco.org as well as the Mycoportal site. Another public contact point are occasional lectures on fungi and their role in the environment presented at various venues such as garden clubs, Audubon chapters, etc.
Our membership fees have remained modest and unchanged for our entire history: $10 for an individual and $15 for a family. The membership includes people from all walks of life, from plumbers to physicists, and from many nationalities, with a strong Slavic contingent, reflecting a shared family culture of mushrooming. Not all of our members are active and a significant percentage only rarely, or never, attend a foray but seem content to participate vicariously through the pages of our newsletter, the Long Island Sporeprint. Over the years the publication has grown from a couple of mimeographed pages of text to a quarterly eight paged newsletter available to members in full color on our website . As editor, the author attempts to merge local data, such as previously unrecorded taxa and newly available collection sites, with more general developments in mycology, by gleanings from the technical journals. Identification hints are also published to supplement the instruction supplied in the field to novices.
Like other clubs, we have had problems with access to collecting sites, but over the years have established relationships locally with various parks, arboretums, etc., which approve our activities. (We have learned that it is best to deal with local managers rather than navigate the treacherous headwaters of the bureaucracy.) However, the largest areas of natural habitat, the pine barrens, are under the jurisdiction of the NYS DEC, which prohibited the harvesting of any natural product (other than game animals, which required a license). We did obtain a dispensation based on our research collecting of Hebeloma which also entailed the submission of specimens to the NYS Museum. By doing so we tread in the footsteps of Charles Horton Peck, the NYS botanist, who collected widely in Suffolk County, and it is a thrill to come across the very species (sixty-two in all) whose type specimens derive from here (e.g., Boletus illudens, Cortinarius pulchrifolius). It was not until 2012, when several natural history organizations prevailed upon the DEC, that they altered their regulations so as to permit the harvesting of forest products such as mushrooms and berries. Ironically, now that we have access, the pine barrens are under serious threat from the Southern Pine Beetle which has recently infested over 1,000 acres in Suffolk County. Measures including felling of infected trees have already begun this winter when the insects are dormant and cannot fly off to infect other trees.
We have had a web presence since 2001 (despite the initial misgivings of some older members) and group email notifications to members re foray conditions since that year as well. This has permitted us to cancel forays when adverse conditions prevail thus sparing members a fruitless trip. On the other hand, some may argue that the experience of failure makes success all the sweeter. Our website regularly produces new member applications and makes our presence known to a wider audience. Previously our annual public mushroom display at Planting Fields Arboretum, with whom we have a long standing relationship, was our only avenue to attract new members, other than word of mouth. We have also been fortunate in that over the years, Newsday, the leading newspaper on Long Island, has several times brought attention to the club by full page articles of our activities. Further attention was created by Dom Laudato’s 2012 publication of his memoirs, “Mushrooming on Long Island: Selected Memoirs of an Obsessed Mycophile”, which contains accounts of the club’s activities over the years, as well as seasonal check lists, etc. Some members of the public become aware of us only after being referred by the Cornell Agricultural Extension to identify a suspect species consumed by their unfortunate canines (which seem to have a fatal attraction to Amanita bisporigera) or their grazing toddler.
Over the years, we have collected for various research projects, among them Benjamin Wolfe’s doctoral thesis on the evolutionary development of symbiosis in Amanita; he is now Assistant Professor of Microbiology at Tufts University and our science advisor. We continue to supply collections of Hebeloma for Prof. Henry Beker, the Belgian researcher whose European guide is scheduled for publication this year; a North American guide is to follow. Collections from our own herbarium (back to 2001) continue to be accessioned at the NYS museum and the NY Botanical Garden for coordination with our published species checklist on the Mycoportal wehsite, the public face of the Macrofungi Collections Consortium.
When founded our stated mission was “to improve the members’ knowledge of mushrooms on Long Island”; it would now be more correct to add “also to contribute to the public awareness of fungal biodiversity and to the science of mycology”.
The Asheville Mushroom Club would like to extend an invitation to join fellow mycophiles for a fun, and educational 4 day event on September 24-27, 2015 in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. The climate, topography, and geological history have made the mountains of Western North Carolina the most biologically diverse areas in the U.S. Half of all the native tree species in the continental United States can be found here, and our fungal diversity is similarly unmatched. The event will be held at the Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, NC. It is a full-service conference center situated on 1200 acres of woodland beautified by mountain streams, wildflowers, ridges, valleys and spectacular views. Watch the NAMA website for registration opening on or shortly after April 1. If you want to be notified when registration opens, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and put "Notification request" in the subject line.
The Asheville Mushroom Club has been in existence since 1983 when four intrepid souls banded together to loosely form the organization. One of the original members recently returned to the fold after a long absence. Currently, the club has over 180 members.
The season starts with a weekend morel hunt in Tennessee, now in its 22nd year. Each year, AMC holds 8–9 day local forays and a day-long workshop/foray with instruction by different noted mycologists. The club also hosts weekend camping events that include forays, now legendary potlucks. Our mycological advisors Dr. Coleman McCleneghan and Dr. Alan Bessette instruct the group through show and tell regarding the key points to observe when identifying fungi.
Our club holds the NAMA foray record of 495 species! A newly-discovered Amanita was found by one of our long-time members during one of the forays, and named by Rod Tulloss as Amanita mediinox.
The vastly improved club website unfolds a smorgasbord of information about the club and its activities. One very important feature is the foray summary page that lists all named fungi found on forays for the last 9 years. It is a feature that has assisted many mycologists when compiling keys for mushrooms found in the southeast.
RAMA was formed in 1984 and celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015. Founding scientific adviser was Dr. Leo Tanghe. Several of the founding members (brothers Dave Wolf and Carl Wolf, William Hollenbaugh and Steven Daniel). Dave is currently serving as RAMA president, and Carl as secretary.
The highlight of our year is the annual Gourmet Mushroom Dinner, and two major RAMA forays held each year at Letchworth State Park in Castile, NY: The Tanghe Foray (named for Dr. Leo Tanghe) and the Both Foray (named for Ernst Both, a bolete expert and Curator Emeritus (Mycology) at the Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, NY).
Rochester, New York, has the dubious distinction of having populations of the Death Cap, Amanita phalloides. RAMA has supplied specimens to research groups, including the Pringle Lab at Harvard University, for scientific study.
RAMA members are excited about their newly launched website: http://rochestermushroomclub.org. Look for photo galleries and much more as our webmaster adds more details.