Mushroom Club welcomes new members at Beechwood Farms kickoff |
Fox Chapel

Mushroom Club welcomes new members at Beechwood Farms kickoff

Tawnya Panizzi
A variety of Polypores that the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club collected at a past Gary Lincoff Mid-Atlantic Mushroom Foray in North Park.

The president of the Western PA Mushroom Club admits the idea of a monthly fungi-related meet-up might sound peculiar.

But Cecily Franklin said there’s no better way to learn about foraging for finds whose edibility range from delicious to deadly.

“It can actually be a matter of life and death,” Franklin said. “Of course, there’s no need to fear all mushrooms, but you have to know what you’re doing.”

Perhaps that’s why club membership has, well, mushroomed to nearly 800 members.

Created to promote the enjoyment and study of wild mushrooms, the club hosts guest speakers, walks, forays and special projects.

Meetings are at 7 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month from March to November at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve in Fox Chapel.

At its yearly kickoff March 19, club past-president Richard Jacob will present “Psychedelic Mushrooms: A New Age of Treatment.” The meeting is free and includes a mushroom display table staffed by expert identifiers.

The session will be followed by a walk at 10 a.m. March 30 at Hartwood Acres along Middle Road in Indiana Township. Club Identifier Adam Haritan will meet participants at the mansion parking lot for a free hike.

In all, there are 18 walks or forays scheduled this year.

“Mushroom hunting is a never-ending treasure hunt,” Franklin said. “Some days you find a lot, and other days you don’t find anything. But when we do find mushrooms, the results can be very rewarding.”

Club members join for a variety of reasons, she said. Some simply like being out in the woods; others are interested in expanding their culinary know-how. Some like the cultivation while others prefer photographing their finds.

For some, it’s the thrill of the chase. Club members are awarded with pins for being able to find and identify certain numbers of species.

“There are very few professional mycologists in the world, so citizen scientists play an important role in advancing the field,” she said.

For more, visit wpa

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121 x1512, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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