September 15, 2007

When Ferrous Sulfate Just Isn't Enough

Coral fungi — they're beautiful, they're incredibly diverse, and they're a bitch-and-a-half to identify down to species if you don't have access to molecular technology. If you're a fan of these exquisite organisms like I am and you need some help figuring out just what the heck you've collected, it's available.

The center of diversity for Ramaria and related genera appears to be the Pacific Northwest, so it is most fitting that the Pacific Northwest Key Council has made available for public use two keys to assist mycologists in their efforts. Links to the two keys are available here; you'll find your way from this page to Scates-Barnhart and Beug's Ramaria I, which emphasizes macroscopic characteristics. You'll also have access to Exeter's Ramaria II; it's more precise, but it does require an ability to perform a microscopic examination of spores and hyphae.

Also available is an illustrated hardcopy key, Ramaria of the Pacific Northwestern United States, published by the US Bureau of Land Management. Unfortunately, there's no way to order this publication online. It can, however, be ordered over the phone by calling 503-375-5646 or by mail:

            US Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Salem District
            1717 Fabry Road SE
            Salem, Oregon 97306
            Attn: Ramaria Key

The price including shipping is a mere $27. When you figure out the cost of the time and stress involved in identifying coral fungi, that's a real bargain. I intend to order my copy of the book on Monday.

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