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This was my synopsis of the talk that Todd Osmundson gave to BAMS last week. I sent him my original essay for review before publication, and he requested that a few points be left off until he has a chance to publish his morel paper. So, even more interesting stuff was discussed at the meeting, but you will have to wait for those very last, tantalizing morel details… ;)
more like science and skillet. a morel is a morel is a morel in the frying pan.
the rest is just marketing.
and indeed, those broad divisions that are commonly used by casual hunters and commercial hunters actually have a pretty good grounding in science. But there are some exceptions as well as insights.
I will link to my BAMS recap here once I have published my talk summary.
As to schedule conflicts, well, there are just so many suitable days in the week, and weekends available in the mushroom year. I certainly didn’t mean to “shock” Dennis by handing him our calendar along with a brimming bag of beautiful fresh mushrooms, I just thought his students would be interested in seeing what upcoming mushroom events were available in the Bay Area. There will always be choices, and many different events are scheduled for the same day. In an urban area with millions of humans, that’s a good thing.
I’d have loved to have heard the latest on Todd’s work, but BAMS was scheduled right on top of MSSF this month (which came as a shock to Dennis). Fortunately, Connie Green had a bit to say about morels — though from an altogether different perspective — during her own presentation. She draws a pretty strong line in the sand when it comes to commercial hunting and taxonomy, “apples and oranges” she said. Oddly enough, that didn’t stop her from attaching names to individual morels from pictures of full baskets. With 50 or so morels in frame, she’d laser point to one and call it a burn, moved a few inches over and call that one a natural, this one a conica, that one an esculenta. I resisted the urge to climb what would probably have come across as the pedantic, taxonomic high ground to “call her out” but I made a mental note of it. More than anything, this lovely bit of MO history came to mind:
I’m a bit shocked to hear that the status report of Todd’s work is that color, after all the fuss, is a reliable indicator of species identity. The consensus among the self-proclaimed Morchellologists appeared to be quite the opposite last I checked, Todd included. These groups, however they pan out with sequence work, will by definition have requisite overlaps in color, since the colloquially termed “Black Morels” are not evenly or exclusively dark throughout their development, nor “Yellow Morels” yellow, “Gray” gray and so on.
Can you go into a little more detail? Would it be premature to have Todd insert his own $0.02 in the form of his own comment? And what’s to be made of burns vs. naturals? Do any meaningful genetic differentiations exist along those lines?
Nothing better than some simplification! I had suspected something of that nature about half-free morels. Always did look like blacks with an attitude problem. Michael Kuo spoke at our big morel hunt a couple years ago with some other news about DNA analysis. Supposedly there are NO common species between here and Europe so we’ll eventually have to create our own names. I’ll still use the old ones out of convenience — I’m not ready to use Species B-9 (provisional) or anything like that.
I just attended an interesting lecture on the current state of morels and their DNA analysis by Dr. Todd Osmundson at UC Berkeley. Turns out the foodies and commercial hunters weren’t so far off….despite there being over a hundred different latin names for morels worldwide, the genetics simplifies the system quite a bit, and the morels fall neatly into three categories…blondes or yellows (the esculenta group), blacks (the elata group) and the basal, most primitive morel, M. rufobrunnea, which does appear to be a saprobe rather than MR or facultatively MR, like most of the other morels.
Also, our half free morel falls quite nicely into the black morel subgroup, and is not deserving of its own new genus.
We also learned about succession in burn morels, but I’ll save that essay for BAMS.
I prefer to use names we have instead of names that aren’t there. Demoting this to genus level implies you cannot tell M. deliciosa from M. angusticeps (or whatever the fashionable current names are) — and I also admit using the wrong translation for “good to eat”.
typical Morchella esculenta as it is called in North America. Most of our morels need new names, not the European ones we are using.
Created: 2008-12-07 10:56:17 CST (-0500)
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