Mushroom expert to speak at Burr Oak Woods

KANSAS CITY Mo -- Move over morels. Many different edible wild mushroom species grow in the woodlands, and author Maxine Stone can help you tell the difference between tasty versus deadly.

Stone wrote “Missouri’s Wild Mushrooms” published in 2010 by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). She will speak about hunting, identifying and cooking mushrooms at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, at the Burr Oak Woods Nature Center, 1401 N.W. Park Road in Blue Springs. A book signing will follow.

The event is free but registration is required by calling 816-228-3766.

For many mushroom lovers, hunting for the fungi begins and ends with the spongy morels that pop up in the woodlands in April and early May. Morels are delicious and easy to identify. Searching for them (but not always finding) is among spring’s most popular outdoor pastimes.

Although other tasty mushrooms in many shapes and colors grow in woodlands throughout the seasons, they are less popular because some species are poisonous and many people are not as familiar with the various caps, puffballs, rosettes, corals and brackets. All, like morels, are the fruiting body of fungi.

Stone, of St. Louis, can help broaden a mushroom hunter’s seasons and finds. She is an experienced outdoors woman and a past president of the Missouri Mycological Society, a group devoted to mushrooms. Her book describes 102 different mushrooms found in the state and provides color photos and keys to identify them. Stone warns readers away from poisonous mushrooms or those that simply don’t taste good, and she gives cooking tips and interesting facts about those that do make good table fare.

“Missouri’s Wild Mushrooms” can be purchased for $14 at the shops at Burr Oak Woods and at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, 4750 Troost Ave., in Kansas City. The book is also available online at www.mdcnatureshop.com.