by Lynn Ovenden
The Ottawa-Carleton school board’s MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre is a wonderful place just west of Rockland, with marshy shoreline along the Ottawa River, old meadows and ponds on the nearshore slopes, and a mature, upland mixed forest with lots of hemlock and beech. Once a year, staff invite the general public to visit the property and enjoy various outdoor activities. A feature of “Open Trails Day” which was October 3 this year, was a fall mushroom workshop led by Dr. Myron Smith of Carleton University.
The day began with cookies and hot drinks in a log cabin classroom in the deep forest of MacSkimming. About 50 people attended Myron’s opening talk about the growth forms of mushrooms, how to collect and learn about them, plus some cautions about eating them.
Then we more or less accompanied him on a very slow, two-hour walk through the forest, gathering one of this, one of that, asking questions, photographing, and generally enjoying each other and the old forest. We returned to the log cabin to eat our lunches and lay out the bounty… a few hundred mushrooms of many colours and shapes. With Myron’s help and several field guides, we examined them carefully and identified perhaps half of them to genus, if not to species level. The remainder would have required detailed keys, microscopic study and/or chemical tests to identify. We made the following species list and returned the mushrooms to the forest.
It was a marvelous day that left me grateful for life’s abundance. Our children have access to a beautiful and stimulating place for environmental studies. The enthusiasm of Myron Smith and MacSkimming staff for nature study, and mushrooms in particular, was contagious.
Finally, and most exciting to me, the forest yielded over 50 taxa that we could identify and who knows how many more that we could not. Myron noted that the 2015 species list is quite different from the list of mushrooms that people found on 4 October 2014 (see Mushrooms of MacSkimming). He looks forward to repeating the workshop next year to see what other mushrooms may emerge from this old forest.
|Mushrooms with Gills
Russula albidulaCorals and Earthtongues
|Mushrooms with Teeth
Hydnellum spongiosipesMushrooms with Pores
Piptoporus betulinus (Birch Polypore)
Trametes versicolor (Turkey Tail)
Puffballs and Earthballs