Recommendations for collecting wild fungi for their identification
- Collecting gear Here a list of small supplies that might prove very handy when collecting fungi for further identification later on .
- for the collection, take along if possible :
- a short knife or a small shovel that will be useful for digging out entirely the mushrooms that need identifying. Make sure you don't move the ground unnecessarily nor dig too deep under the stem, so as to preserve the mycelium as much as possible. This is particularly important to detect the presence of a "volva", a rooting cord or potential colour changes at the stem base;
- an open hard basket where the specimens will be stored. Plastic bags must never be used as they damage the mushrooms too much;
- several boxes or indexed tags, one assigned to each mushroom to be identified;
- a small notebook where relevant details of the pick up site be recorded, such as, for each tag above : the location or landmark, habitat, nearby trees, nature of the ground etc.). One can refer to the questions asked in items "support/substrate", "saprophytic/parasite", "habitat ou "grows in tufts".
- for the determination (normally at home, away from the collection site), prepare :
- tips and precautions As a general rule, while picking up mushrooms in order to identify them :
- take care of digging out the entire mushroom if it is to be identified - do not cut it off at the base! -. Note the mycelium's colour and check if there are debris at the stem base;
- note as thoroughly and precisely as possible the area where the mushroom was collected, with details: the nearby tree (broad-leaved, coniferous, and if possible the tree's species), if the pick-up site is in a forest, open woodland or in a park, etc...
- record also if the mushroom grows on the ground or on wood, if it comes in dense tufts, in troops or isolated;
- make sure you store the mushrooms in a basket when foraying, and separate them as much as possible to preserve them the best you can;
- to fill in the determination form, select the mushroom which looks the most representative in terms of size, and/or which was the most preserved from slugs and insects;
- if possible, take several specimens of the same unknown species picked up in the same area, young ones (cap not totally open or so) as well as older ones. Certain characteristics are indeed easier to spot on young or old mushrooms, like odours or colour changes;
- note if the mushroom has a more or less strong odour. Even though odour criteria are not used in our determination methods because of their high subjectivity, this element might provide a good hint when comparing the outputs provided by the determination system, and help discard some results.
- take photos! It has become very easy and cheap to take them with cell phones, so we might as benefit from that too. This has proved often to be very useful to discover overlooked details when not on site anymore. Pictures of dead leaves on the ground near the mushroom can help identify the neighbouring trees for example.
NB : from then on, we will use - abusively - the term "mushroom" to designate the short-lived fertile and visible part of the mushroom (this is often referred to as "carpophore" or "sporophore" in the literature)