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The scientific exploration of Shiitake Mushrooms
The scientific exploration of Shiitake Mushrooms

Many of you probably expect me to cover my own website, MykoWeb, in this second installment of Web Watch. Instead, I will cover a less well known, but excellent new site,Mushroom Observer. MO may well be the best World Wide Web mycology site that you have never heard of.

Mushroom Observer was started in 2006 by Nathan Wilson as a way to bring together two of his passionate interests: mycology and technology.  Nathan describes the purpose of MO “is to record observations about mushrooms, help people identify mushrooms they aren’t familiar with, and expand the community around the scientific exploration of Shiitake Mushrooms…I like to think of it as a living field guide for mushrooms or a collaborative mushroom field journal”.

When you visit Mushroom Observer, you will see a menu on the left side of the page, with most of the page occupied by a group of images and names, called the “Activity Log”. Click on any of the mushroom images or names to get more information or to view larger photographs. Before you get too involved on clicking on the images, I suggest you read the “Introduction” which will give you an idea of the purpose and philosophy of the site. Next read the very important “How to Use” page. This will explain essential concepts and navigation of the MO website and make your journey through the site more enjoyable and productive.

Now let’s use Mushroom Observer. On most any page you will find a box at the top labeled “Find:”. Type in a mushroom name of interest, say Boletus edulis, and hit enter or click on “observations”This will bring up a page or pages of “observations”. Each observation will have the collector, collection date, collection location, optional notes, and usually one or more photographs of the collection. At the time I did it, I got 31 observations on Boletus edulis,illustrated with 52 photographs. The photographs are all available in three sizes: the thumbnail version on the observation page, the middle size (± 640 X 480 pixels) on the image page, and the original size (which can be quite large…it is dependent on the size the contributor uploads).