foraging mushrooms

Mushroom Identification for Beginners


On Saturday, I am teaching a class on Mushroom ID for newbies. (location listed with map below) If you are out picking wild mushrooms and eating them already this class is probably not for you. This is the class that I wish I could have had when I first started learning about mushrooms. I remember going out, despite that I had the best field guide I’ve ever owned, and finding all these mushrooms and not really able to identify any of them. Even after bringing them home for further study. I remember throwing out a chanterelle because when I got it home and I couldn’t safely ID it. (long time ago). I remember almost eating a toxic Lactarius thinking it was a candy cap. These mistakes seem ridiculous to me now, but when you’re just starting with mushrooms, it can seem overwhelming and intimidating. And it’s your life on the line potentially, if you don’t even know how to steer clear of the deadly ones. I remember thinking how I didn’t read about hardly any poisonous lookalikes, but yet I was discovering them all the time. I think the problem is that to mushroom guide authors and experts, they don’t look the same. But to me then, they certainly did (and perhaps to you now).

I grew up like most Americans thinking mushrooms are scary poison, and not having a clue about their virtues or differences. Top this with nature illiteracy and a cultural fear of them, it is a wonder how I’ve gotten this far in my learning and understanding. Nature will show you the way if you are willing, and it always helps to have lots of human guides along the way.

Most people here are afraid of mushrooms. And you should be!! — that is, if you plan on eating them. Many mushrooms are deadly or dangerously poisonous when ingested, and I do not recommend eating any mushroom raw. For those of you that already do and don’t plan on stopping, some species won’t let you get by with this.

It takes a keen eye and an attunement to the natural world to be able to see their patterns successfully. My class aims to remove some of the mystique around mushrooms, and introduce you to a few, distinctive families and groups, and give you some training on how to begin your immersion into the world of fungi.

We’ll look at lots of different mushrooms, learn about their cycles and environment, use a key to identify some unknowns, and go on a fungal foray into the woods of the beautiful Oakland hills!

The class will meet at the Sequoia Arena gate, in Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland, right off of Skyline Blvd. There should be parking, but if not, there is easy parking just across the street as well.

The address is:

Sequoia Arena Gate
10013-10553 Skyline Blvd
Oakland, CA 94611,+Oakland,+CA&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=29.910058,66.533203&ie=UTF8&hq=sequoia+arena,&hnear=Oakland,+CA&ll=37.816476,-122.18042&spn=0.001818,0.004061&t=h&z=18&iwloc=A&cid=12471166536182921240>

Please let me know if you have any further questions . . .

— Kevin

An assortment of edible and toxic mushrooms
An assortment of edible and toxic mushrooms