Mushroom lovers united in Lynn over the weekend.
The North Shore-based group, Mushroom Lovers U.S.A., convened at Lynn Woods Reservation Saturday to pick mushrooms.
“We’re a meet-up group, meetup.com, and our mushroom lovers group has grown from 49 to 193 members the last two years,” said Jean Saunders, a Peabody resident. “We have members from all over the North Shore, including Lynn. They’re all nature lovers and hikers.”
Saunders said Lynn Woods is usually a fertile area for mushroom growth.
“But this may be a lean year because we had an open winter, which means we had no snow,” said Saunders. “A lot of the fungi depend on a wet ground. Because we had a dry winter, the mushroom hunting may not be as good. But we’re very optimistic.”
Saunders said that mushrooms grow in the ground, on trees, and at the base of trees. She added that mushrooms are a healthy food item for people.
“Mushrooms are very healthy for you. They’re full of vitamins and minerals.”
Rick Pierro, a Swampscott resident and founder of the group, said he has been picking mushrooms in Lynn Woods for the past twenty years.
“It’s fun to get out there if you like walking in the woods or being with nature,” said Pierro.
Jim McAuley, a Peabody resident, was the mushroom identifier at Saturday’s event. Most consider the 58-year-old McAuley an expert but he says humbly, “I’m not an expert but I’m fairly good at it. I’m knowledgeable about mushrooms.
“A mushroom is the fruiting body of a fungal organism,” he explained. “Think of a mushroom like an apple on an apple treat. The rest of the organism is in its host medium – meaning either the ground or a decaying log – or other live plants or animals. Mushrooms have their own kingdom: kingdom fungi. There is the plant kingdom, animal kingdom, fungi kingdom, and other kingdoms.”
McAuley said mushroom enthusiasts have come to Lynn Woods in the past.
“We’ve walked through Lynn Woods before and it was just a likely place to hunt mushrooms because it’s centrally located compared with where everybody in our group lives,” said McAuley.
McAuley said that mushroom hunting in Lynn Woods is a popular pastime.
“What we’re going to do today is identify the mushrooms and if any of them are edible and I’m aware of it, I’ll tell the person that they can eat them. The greater majority of mushrooms are inedible and there are a number of poisonous mushrooms that if you ate them, within three days, if you didn’t have treatment, you would die.”
McAuley advised that if any Lynn resident does pick mushrooms, they should have them identified before cooking or consuming them. He recommends consulting the Boston Mycological Club for information.
McAuley said there are plenty of mushrooms to be picked in Lynn Woods.
“I would guess there are hundreds of different species of mushrooms out there,” he said. “This is the beginning of the mushroom season and this is an optimist’s foray today.”