Time for a New Field Guide

Within the last few weeks, more than ten species of mushrooms have emerged in a grove of oaks in our yard and I’m only familiar with one of them. Mushroom identification is complicated and depends on a number of factors that I tend to forget from year to year: whether or not there are gills and how they are attached, the shape of the cap, the color of the spore print, color, habitat, season, and more. For now, looking more carefully and making sketches and field notes before these ephemeral species disappear is more valuable than knowing the names. But soon, it will be good to have a guide to fungi on my shelf.

Though I set out to paint these, I quickly decided to simplify and just use a mechanical pencil. It made it easier to move from one cluster to another and maximize limited sketching time.

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23 thoughts on “Time for a New Field Guide

  1. Yes, get several field guides! I used to work at ID’ing mushrooms and found I needed more than one guide. I hope we’ll see paintings too, for those subtle colorations. But I won’t be greedy – this is wonderful!

    • That’s a good suggestion. I get easily frustrated with what’s online, too. I’d like to find a guide that is limited to the east/northeast so that I can eliminate things that don’t occur here. I hope to have some time for painting, too, but it’s been dry now and the existing crop is starting to turn bad. There’s such value to seizing the moment with mushrooms!

      • Yes, give them a few days and they lose their look. As for online field guides, I agree, there’s nothing comparable to leafing through a physical book. For flowers I start there and then if I’ve got it narrowed down but am still unsure, I’ll go online. I’ve found there are plant lists for many of the sites I visit – those are invaluable. Maybe there are fungus lists for certain areas too? Do you know about the NY Mycological Society? They’re very good!
        http://newyorkmyc.org/

  2. I know I’ve already told you this in the NJ group, but it’s worth saying again… These are simply wonderful, Jean! Though I have William Roody’s guide for my area (Southern Appalachians) which is great, and Peterson’s guide which isn’t super great but it sometimes works, my favorite ID resource is Michael Kuo’s online keys at mushroomexpert.com. (Start here: mushroomexpert.com/major_groups.html) Still, mushroom ID is hard, and I very rarely get an ID with 100 percent certainty. However, I can usually get the species down to the family. For observation purposes, it’s close enough! Have fun exploring!

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