What we're about

The IMA is comprised of mycologists and laypeople from all walks of life who share a common interest in the study of mushrooms. Individual members often have specific areas of interest and expertise, including mushroom foraging, identification, cultivation, mycoremediation, mycorrhizas, medical mycology, lichens, and edible, poisonous, and medicinal fungi.

If you are new to mushrooming, joining a mushroom club will give you the opportunity to learn about the fungal diversity found during the seasons in Chicagoland and how to identify species properly and safely. Whether you’re an experienced mycophile or are new to the Kingdom of Fungi, we welcome your knowledge and companionship.

Monthly Meetings and Lecture Series are held from March to December at 7:30 PM on the first Monday of each month and the first Tuesday in September. Check our website for the event dates, locations, and future programs: http://www.illinoismyco.org/events/

For non-IMA-members, there is a $5 suggested donation to attend our lecture series events. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. Please join us! Membership in the IMA is only $20 per year and includes participation in our monthly members-only forays. While our lecture series is open to the public, forays into the woods are limited to members only. This is because the IMA is a scientific and educational nonprofit that holds a scientific collection permit to pick wild mushrooms for research and education. Club members also receive a great digital monthly newsletter with articles, recipes, research, art and information on additional events. You can become an IMA member at any IMA event, or by clicking here http://www.illinoismyco.org/join-us/

Are you interested in learning about mushrooms? Our group offers a great way to share time outdoors with friends and family, while learning about our local environment and mushroom species. Our forays are led by mycologists from organizations like the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Field Museum. Imagine how wonderful it is to have a passionate expert with you in the woods who can identify all of the mushrooms found and provide an integrated ecological context for each.

The Illinois Mycological Association is dedicated to promoting mycology among members and the public. The IMA is a mushroom club that gets together several times a month to go on forays to look for mushrooms. Also, once a month, we have a sit-down evening meeting for a lecture, some socializing, and discussion of fungi. There are also special events from time to time, such as our annual dinner, special guest speakers, and so on.

Upcoming events (3)

Mushrooming with Children

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Curious about how to introduce children to the benefits of mushroom hunting? Melany Kahn quells common fears and puts the “us” in mushrooms, by weaving simple education through playful, fungi-finding adventures. It’s never too early to learn, and never too late to start a family interest in mycology. Melany will identify simple ‘beginner’ mushrooms, showing which ones to tackle and how, and discuss the many fungal treasures that are not necessarily edible but are fascinating to children. These range from the beauty of turkey tails to the magic of blue-staining boletes, to stinkhorns (eeew!), to making spore art with gilled mushrooms. The possibilities that the mushroom kingdom offer our kids are endless. The program will be interactive with plenty of room for Q and A through the chat.

About the presenter
Author Melany Kahn started hunting for mushrooms in Vermont in 1968 when her family bought a farm in West Brattleboro. She attended Wesleyan University, (BA, English/Creative Writing). She holds a Masters in Social Work from Boston College and MFA in Film from The Tisch School at NYU. Melany lives in New Hampshire with her husband and children, and you can find her leading mushroom walks or foraging at every opportunity. Mason Goes Mushrooming is her first book.
If you have any questions, please direct them to Illinois Mycological Association [masked].


The Secret House: Fungi in the Built Environment with Keith Seifert

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Keith Seifert
Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1S 5B6

We often overlook the built environment as a biological system, partly because we design our shelters to protect us from the climate and competing organisms. Houses and other buildings contain several sub-environments, which vary from location to location. The outer walls and roof, the wooden or metal skeletons that support the structures, the interior surfaces and flooring each have their own distinct mycota. Material introduced into the house, like furniture, bedding, houseplants, food, compost, and human, pet and rodent inhabitants also carry fungi that might become resident. Most parts of the house are like a desert and play host to xerophiles, fungi that do not require much moisture. Symbioses occur between some xerophilic moulds and dust mites (and possibly some insects). The abundant moisture and higher humidity of kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms are like tropical rain forests. Although many of the species are benign, understanding the biology of the fungi in a building is critical. The health of occupants can be affected by fungal spores, β-glucan containing hyphal fragments, or volatile organic compounds that cause allergies or asthma, especially in children. Fungal populations may change dramatically if plumbing systems leak, and spores can be distributed widely by air handling systems. This can have serious consequences in public or multiple dwelling buildings. Studies of indoor microbiomes are relevant to the larger topics of island biogeography and urban biology. In addition, events that concern us on a planetary scale, such as the phenomenon of invasive species, sometimes also occur in the built environment. However, its direct relevance to human health suggests the ecology of buildings deserves much more study.

Keith Seifert is the author of the recent book The Hidden Kingdom of Fungi, which takes readers on a fantastic voyage through the world of microscopic fungi. He spent his career as a Research Scientist for Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada in Ottawa as a mycologist specializing in the identification and classification of microscopic fungi that produce toxins in crops and foods. His academic publications include more than 250 scientific papers and six books. From[masked], he was the President of the International Mycological Association, was the chair of the International Commission on the Taxonomy of Fungi, and was an executive editor of the scientific journal Mycologia. He retired in 2019 and is now an adjunct professor at Carleton University in Ottawa. As a writer and speaker, Keith combines humour and philosophy to explore the interactions between science, the humanities, history and society. The stories in his book show the positive and negative effects of fungi on our forests, farms, food and drink, homes, bodies and human economic activities.


Member slide show and Holiday Party

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Past events (168)

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature

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Photos (300)