The Downeast Lakes Community Forest is home to a host of species diversity from plants like Eastern Hemlock and Ostrich-plume Moss, to animals like Moose and Red-backed salamanders. It also hosts a variety of fungi species that grow in the soil, on rocks, and even on the bark of trees all around us. One student at Woodland High School has taken an interest in mycology, the scientific study of fungi, in our forest and has started an intensive project to catalog all the species that can be found along the Trail to Tomorrow. To date he has cataloged over 25 species of lichen and mushrooms that winter along the trail.
Many people may think that cold, snow-covered forests aren’t a great time for mushroom hunting, but this student is finding that the sheer amount and diversity of species around him is enough to keep him busy for months at a time. Most mushrooms remain dormant throughout the winter and only fruit when the conditions are perfect for reproduction, typically weather patterns that are warm and wet. However, some fungi, like bracket fungi and lichens, can be seen year-round. Trail to Tomorrow boasts bright colored Witch’s Butter, Red-belted conk, Turkey-tail, and many lichens such as Tree Lungwort and Bottlebrush Shield Lichen. Why wait until July to go for a mushroom walk, when you can enjoy the colors and diversity of the forest right now!
For two hours every week, this student walks part of the Trail to Tomorrow photographing and cataloging all the fungi species found there. He hopes to have this project done by the end of the school year and help to create a brochure for land trust visitors to use. He hasn’t quite decided what he wants to do after high school but going to college and becoming a Mycologist is surely on his list of options!
Through our education program here at DLLT, we hope to encourage more students, of all ages, to learn about the environment around them and pursue studies in their field of interest. If you or someone you know is interested in a citizen science project, such as this one, please contact Education Coordinator Sarah Cote for options on how to make it possible.
P.S. This post would simply not be complete without sharing our favorite fungi jokes. And anyway, they won’t take up ‘mushroom’!
What do you get if a frog eats a mushroom?
What do mushrooms enjoy eating around a campfire?
Why are mycologists trustworthy?
They have the best morels!