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Naturalists zero in on mushrooms

Orillia Packet,
September 16 2016

How important are mushrooms to the environment in which we live? Although long considered a culinary delicacy, mushrooms can be poisonous, even fatal, if consumed.

Mushrooms were the focus in the most recent workshop of the Ontario master naturalist program, offered at Lakehead University in Orillia in partnership with Ontario Nature. Thirteen naturalists from across the province joined Luke Eckstein and program co-ordinator Bob Bowles to not only learn about spore-producing fruiting bodies, but also head out into the field to identify more than 60 species of mushrooms in the local environment.

The participants are now well-placed to identify the incredible array of mushrooms appearing throughout Simcoe County, covering lawns, meadows, woods and wetlands, growing on living and dead matter and often forming mutually beneficial relationships with other living flora.

This workshop was one of four standalone sessions on offer this fall, of which three remain. Although the last session is full, there are still a few spots available in the Ontario mosses and liverworts session taking place Sept. 24 and the Ontario spiders session Oct. 15.

The Ontario master naturalist program will run a full certificate program in the spring. For more information, visit www.lakeheadu.ca/about/orillia-campus/community-programs/omnp or email masternaturalist@lakeheadu.ca.