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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Forage for Mushrooms with the New York Mycological Society

NYMS Mushroom walk at Alley Pond Park last June. Photo: Steven Bodzin

The New York Mycological Society (NYMS)—a club for any New Yorker with an interest in fungi—has several outdoor events coming up in September and October, including a picnic in Putnam County with the Connecticut-Westchester Mycological Society (COMA), and walks in Peekskill, Rockland County and Randall’s Island. A $20 annual membership fee is required to attend the walks. 

NYMS was founded in 1962 by the avant-garde composer John Cage and a small group of other mushroom lovers, including illustrator Lois Long and botanist Guy Nearing. According to its current president, Sigrid Jakob, the club’s focus has always been on the serious study of fungi, along with the enjoyment of nature with a community of people from all walks of life. They welcome anyone with an interest in fungi, and no prior knowledge is required to join one of their walks, identification sessions or lectures. 

“We’re dedicated to increasing public awareness, appreciation and knowledge of fungi,” Jakob says. “We believe that passionate, knowledgeable amateurs are important contributors to science and fungal conservation. We believe that the best way to learn about fungi is to walk the parks and woods with others—observing, touching, smelling and documenting the fungi we find. The club has documented well over a thousand species in New York City alone, and we continue to find more all the time.”

They generally go out on walks every weekend, year-round, rain or shine.
“Our walks are a wonderful way to familiarize yourself with local fungi and their distinctive characteristics, as well as their role in our ecosystems and their culinary potential,” Jakob says.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming events and member walks include the COMA/NYMS picnic at Pelton Pond, in Fahnestock State Park in Putnam County, on September 12; Depew Park in Peekskill, on September 26; Tallman State Park in Rockland County, on October 9; and Randall’s Island in New York City, on October 30. Additional walks are being planned for Harriman State Park, New Jersey and the Hudson Valley, as well as various New York City parks in all five boroughs.

NYMS meets once a week, generally on Monday evenings, to share and identify members’ finds. Microscopes, guide books and experts are on hand. Currently these ID sessions are being held on Zoom until further notice. The club also regularly invites speakers to present to them on their area of expertise, whether it’s a specific genus of fungi or a broader topic. 

For info on joining NYMS, visit NewYorkmyc.org/join

For additional info on fungi and local mushroom walks, visit namyco.orgnemf.org and comaFungi.org.


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