November 25, 2008

Matt Schubert and PDN: True Friends to Mycophiles

Kudos to the Washington North Olympic Peninsula's Peninsula Daily News and especially sportswriter Matt Schubert for their service in helping to spread the word about the ever-fascinating fungi. The newspaper sponsored a mushroom contest, organized by Schubert, with prizes awarded in three categories. It resulted in folks being exposed to some amazing (and often tasty) organisms that they might never have otherwise heard of.

Prize-winning fungus among us -- results of the PDN's mushroom contest

By Matt Schubert

FUNGI GENERALLY TAKE a back seat to the North Olympic Peninsula's other treasures.

Some might even say mushrooms aren't getting their just due around these parts...

...fungi, of which the Pacific Northwest has approximately 3,000 different species, receive little in the way of love...

Regardless of the cause, it's plain to see that there just isn't enough honest public discussion about the fungus among us. That's why we here at the PDN decided to shed a little light on the subject.

At the behest of Publisher John Brewer, a fungus fan if I've ever seen one, yours truly put together "Mushroom Mania," a contest that merged my keen use of alliteration with the Peninsula's secretive fondness for fungi...

There were three categories created for Mushroom Mania: ugliest, largest and mushroom most resembling a landmark...

Largest mushroom:... Forks resident Gene Barker found his 10-pound cauliflower mushroom near the South Fork Hoh River. It was so big it couldn't fit into his five-gallon bucket.

Ugliest mushroom... your winner is the Lobster mushroom (aka Hypomyces lactifluorum), which isn't exactly winning any beauty contests itself.

Landmark mushroom -- For whatever reason, this one didn't inspire a whole lot of interest. It did, however, produce the oddest submission of the entire contest from Port Angeles' Jim Taylor.

Taylor claimed that his mushroom, called a "puffball," resembled Dolly Parton's chest, which he said is "a true national landmark." I found that to be a bit of a stretch.

Therefore, I decided to go with another Billeaudeaux submission, this time from Olympic Peninsula Mycological Society president Bobbi Billeaudeaux.

It was a Boletus edulis (aka King Bolete), which happens to look a lot like the Seattle Space Needle.
Fungi really don't get enough love in most quarters, which is too bad. It's good to see some people out there remedying that situation. And as for you, Gene Barker of Forks, WA (should you happen to find your way to this entry) I hope that Sparassis crispa of yours was tasty. And, yeah, I'm a little jealous.

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