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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving for Mushrooms!

We're never going to spot a Wild Turkey in the North Campus, but I still wanted to post something related to the Thanksgiving holiday this week. Ah ha! Mushrooms, I thought. Not the Campbell's soup kind, but real honest-to-goodness wild mushroomslike the ones that are popping up all over L.A. after our recent autumnal rains.

In preparation for this blog post I went out searching for mushrooms in the North Campus. What I found was this:

Unidentified little brown mushroom (LBM)

Not being a mycologist, I had no idea what this small non-descript brown mushroom was, so I took it to the experts. Last night, the L.A. Mycological Society (LAMS) held their monthly meeting at the Museum. The meeting is a place for all things fungithere's a lecture (last night's touched on the insect zombification powers of some fungi!), mushroom show and tell, and of course snacks.

During the mushroom show and tell, I politely asked a LAMS member to identify my mushroom. Not missing a beat he told me it was an LBM. A what? A little brown mushroom! He continued to explain that there are hundreds of species of small brown mushrooms, and it was impossible to identify my mushroom without  a much more in depth process. I almost left disappointed, but then I took a gander at the other mushrooms people had found throughout Los Angeles.

 An array of mushrooms found on a mushroom foray

Earthstar, Geastrum spp. and
Western Destroying Angel, Amanita ocreata (small white mushroom)

Jack O'lantern, Omphalotus olivascens
This musrhoom actually glows in the dark!

Massive puffball mushrooom

Wow, what diversity! In the coming months I am working with the LAMS to do a formal survey of fungi in the North Campus. This survey will generate a species list for the site. Apparently there are almost 400 species of mushrooms and other fungi in Southern California, I wonder how many we'll find in the Museum's backyard?


  1. Hi, Lila,
    I just found mushrooms growing in my yard that I have never seen before. I took pictures and wonder who I can send them to for identification. They look deadly with a rusty red top with light black edge and gills and a bright orange stem.

    Ann Cantrell, Docent

  2. Ann,
    I would suggest checking out the L.A. Mycological Society's website. They have a page that gives instructions on how to send them images of a mushroom to get it identified. Here is the URL
    All the best,