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sam mitchel herbarium of fungi
The Sam Mitchel Herbarium of Fungi is the largest and best curated mycological collection of the Southern Rocky Mountain Region, with approximately 14,000 preserved and documented specimens of mushrooms and other fungi. The collection includes more than 2,500 species within approximately 300 genera.
We have an excellent, well-documented representation of native Basidiomycetes with a particularly strong collection of the Russulales, as well as the genera Hebeloma, Agaricus and Suillus. Our strengths include gasteroid collections from the prairies and grasslands of Colorado and especially noteworthy colletions of “snowbank” fungi. Many rare cup fungi stand out in our extensive Ascomycete collection. Our collections are supported by an extensive literature collection. Aproximately 250 species of Colorado Mycomycetes are also included.
Our valuable and often unique collections are sought after for loans to other institutions here and abroad. There are 36 TYPE collections of Colorado fungi housed in the Sam Mitchel Herbarium.
The Sam Mitchel Herbarium of Fungi recently received an award from the National Science Foundation - Thematic Collections Network Grant to digitize and image the collections including all the ancillary data such as in-situ images of mushrooms and data cards. To learn more about the grant, The Macrofungi Collection Consortium, which includes 34 other institutions see the National Science Foundation press release. The data from all 35 institutions will be or is available on the new, MyCoPortal, and includes distribution maps and dynamic checklists.
The herbarium staff identifies fungi for the public, Rocky Mountain Poison Center and other researchers. For toxicology experts and other qualified researchers, the collection is available for study and includes vouchered specimens.
The mycology staff and volunteers continually survey the varied habitats of Colorado and adjoining states to collect and document the mycoflora throughout the fruiting season.
- Our research on subalpine and alpine mycorrhizal fungi begins in the spring with trips to the edge of the snowbanks where melting snow and the intense sun support the ‘fruiting’ of mycorrhizal fungi. Throughout the decades we have documented hundreds of vouchers of these unique fungi, known only in a few parts of the world.
- Collecting in subalpine and alpine areas during the summer months has produced thousands of specimens of mycorrhizal fungi, thus documenting the association of those fungi with their plant associates. Our extensive collection of Gasteromycete - puffballs and their allies - is a particular strength. Most of these saprobes are found in our prairie habitats throughout the season.
- Staff and volunteers actively participate in various intensive inter-disciplinary field studies, known as bioblitzes. Our collections from the Rocky Flats Bioblitz, Soapstone Prairie Bioblitz, Rocky Mountain Park Mycoblitz and the JE Ranch SE Canyonlands Bioblitz have yielded many unique specimens, some previously unknown to the area.