Wild Mushrooms and Fungi Ecology

The April 11th, 2014, Highland Wonders event on Wild Mushrooms and Fungi Ecology was dedicated to OHA volunteer Marge McCormick, who recently passed away after a battle with cancer. We appreciate everything Marge did to help further OHA’s work in the highlands, and she will be greatly missed.

Helen Lau presented an introduction into the world of macro-fungi and discussed some of their ecological functions. Helen Lau is a botanist for the USFS on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. She manages the rare botanical species (plants, lichens, bryophytes and fungi), native plant restoration and invasive plant program on the Cle Elum Ranger District. Helen’s research interests are in fungi biodiversity and she received an undergraduate degree at Evergreen State College and her master’s degree on mycorrhizae ecology in the Biological Sciences Department at Central Washington University.

Fungi Song
Written for Highland Wonders by Julie Vanderwal

Here comes flying squirrel, he’s digging around
He’s really excited about what he’s found
A truffle means dinner; but it means more than that
This is not just a way for a squirrel to get fat
This is how the forest takes care of itself
With creatures that spread around all the wealth
The squirrel disperses the spores all around;
Truffles help trees to get the food and water they need

Chorus: 
There’s a fungus among us, all of the time
Whether hiking the forest or sipping some wine
Do not forget all the roles fungi play
And lucky for us, they are here to stay

The networks of fungi under the ground
Share and communicate without a sound
As nutrients pass from tree to tree
And messages are sent silently
There’s a lot more to fungi than you can see

But the parts that are visible above the earth
Wild mushrooms colorful, shapely, they’re worth
More than it seems as you quickly pass by
So slow down and notice before things get dry
The incredible way these unique things live
And pause to consider just how much they give.

Thank you very much, Helen, for an informative and fascinating presentation!

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