Fly amanita (Amanita muscaria), photo by Michael Beug
Within the first few hours of taking on his new role, Michael began work reviewing all of the photos in our fungi photo gallery, double checking identifications and choosing the best photo of a species as an illustration. That is, good fungi shots that also show key characteristics of a species.
Michael has an impressive resume. At The Evergreen State College in Washington he taught chemistry, mycology and organic farming for 32 years. Retired now, he continues to lecture and hold mushroom workshops. He is very involved with the North American Mycological Association (NAMA), where serves as Editor of the Journal McIlvainea, Chair of the Toxicology Committee, and is a member of the Education Committee. Significantly, he is currently Vice President and has served four terms as President of The Pacific Northwest Key Council, a group focused on the taxonomy and identification of fungi. Michael is also a co-author of MatchMaker, with Ian Gibson, Drew Parker, Danny Miller, Eli Gibson, and Bryce Kendrick. Matchmaker is a free mushroom identification tool that covers mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.
E-Flora BC focuses on macrofungi, the mushrooms, which is a very large group in BC. In his introduction to the macrofungi, Michael says:
"There are over 1600 species of macrofungi recorded from British Columbia. There are hundreds of additional named species found in the Pacific Northwest but not yet recorded from B.C. that are likely to turn up when people start looking for them. In addition, there are numerous species, probably one to three thousand or more, present in B. C. but not yet named or still waiting to catch the eye of someone who will recognize the mushroom as new to science. All of this brings the probable number of mushroom species in British Columbia to somewhere on the order of 5,000 species, possibly even 10,000 species."
One paragraph in Michael's introduction to the macrofungi of BC sums up his view of fungi and fungi in BC.
"In October of 2008, Dr. Joe Ammirati asked me to see if I could find any species of Cortinarius associated with Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana). I checked the literature but found none reported. However, in the following month I found 10 to 20 new species under the Oregon White Oak of the Columbia River Gorge. I found only one species that had previously been named and it was only reported from California. One Cortinarius I found was beautiful mustard yellow, another had gorgeous lilac tones, one had a spectacular fluorescence under UV light and one turned a striking bright pink when treated with potassium hydroxide. These were all big beautiful mushrooms with striking features. How had they gone undiscovered for so long? How many more new species are under the oaks of Southwestern British Columbia? For that matter, how many new species lurk undiscovered in all of British Columbia (some of the Cortinarius species I have found in Washington have also been found near Victoria, B.C. and are now in the process of getting names) – I will bet that there are still several thousand beautiful and interesting fungi waiting somewhere to be discovered and then studied and named. It is an exciting field open to anyone with an enquiring mind. I myself started off as a toadstool kicker, generally oblivious to mushrooms. A friend gave me some morels that led first to a memorable meal and then to a lifetime of discovery."
Michael lives in a remote area of Washington State, with a view of Mount Hood, and a half a mile long driveway.
Here is a small selection of Michael's fungi photos:
Calocera viscosa (no common name), photos by Michael Beug
Fairy fingers (Clavaria vermicularis), photo by Michael Beug
Shaggy mane (Coprinus comatus), photo by Michael Beug
Read Michael's article on The Macrofungi of British Columbia here.