Making a Mushroom

Making a Mushroom

Did you know that the cultivated enoki mushrooms you find in the store’s produce section look completely different from wild enokis? Thomas Roehl wants to know why. He shared this question with us—along with the basics of mushroom development—in a talk sponsored by the Blue Ridge Mycological Society at the Quarry Gardens on the chilly morning of December 19.

A UVA graduate in biology, Thomas did his first mushroom hunting in southwestern Virginia. At the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse, he has pursued the question of differences in gene expression of cultivated and wild enoki mushrooms (Flamulina velupides) as the basis of his Master’s thesis. Beginning in January, he will be continuing this work in a PhD program at Clark University in Massachusetts.

Following Thomas’s illuminating talk—which gave us new appreciation for the complexity of genetic research—we made a brief foray along the main QGs trail. Along the way, we encountered some common shelf mushrooms.

Where woodchips had fallen next to a cut tree, Pat Mitchell displayed a mycelial mat found by Sue Gaeta.

We discovered blue Turkey tails colonizing the seat of a bench near the small picnic grove.

…and Thomas identified a Smoky-eyed boulder lichen (Porpidia albocaerulescens) that Pat enlarged with his camera lens to reveal its black-outlined apothecia.

All of which is to say why we welcome researchers and scholars to the QGs. From them, we are constantly learning new things about this beautiful and fascinating place.

Because fungi are everywhere, affecting everything, study of them is a playground for the curious mind. Thomas reports on his journey in a wide-ranging and entertaining blog:

The Blue Ridge Mycological Society meets here monthly. To learn more, see