Pelican in the early 1960's. We wanted to know what they were. Curiosity really started something In the Faribault Public Library I found only two old mushroom books, The Mushroom, Edible and Otherwise, M. E. Hard, 1908, and Field Book of Common Mushrooms, W. S. Thomas, 1936. Two of Pete's photographs were easy to identify, Amanita muscaria and Hypomyces lactifluorum. With permission to check books out of the Carleton College Library in nearby Northfield, much more and up-to-date information became available. From references I learned about the importance of writing detailed descriptions of fresh specimens (including the use of color charts), microscopic study of spores in making identifications, and drying mushroom collections for future microscopic study. In my reading I was disturbed to discover that Minnesota was not included in citations of states whose specimens had been examined
Pete resurrected the microscope he had had in Medical School so I could see spores. The first ones I saw were the beautiful, longitudinally ridged spores of Boletellus russellii. This was fascinating!
After learning of the importance of dried specimens, I dried my collections in the oven of the stove with the door ajar, but had to discard some because the drying was not correctly done, some specimens becoming moldy. After studying at the University of Michigan Biological Station and observing how drying was properly done, Pete made me a great dryer incorporating the unused copper screens from the very high, small sun room windows, windows that couldn't be opened. From Sears I ordered a set of metal strips to assemble with wing nuts and bolts to make a frame to hold the screen shelves. The boys referred to this as "mom's Erector Set". The assembled shelves had an unbleached muslin cover with vents and a moveable front flap, to provide access to the shelves, and, below, a two-burner hot-plate with three heat settings."
"My collections were stored in glass and plastic jars with tight- fitting lids. Pete brought home glass jars from the hospital and office laboratories where they had contained Ethicon foil packets. They were excellent for storing larger dried fungi. A druggist ordered smaller plastic containers. After the specimens were dried and placed in the jars, a few naphtha flakes were added to each to prevent insect infestation. Printed labels were placed with each collection, attempting to give my collections the same authenticity and appearance as those of other herbaria. A sample label:
Herbarium of M. G. Weaver MINNESOTA FUNGI Fuscoboletinus weaverae A. H. Sm. & Shaffer Scattered to cespitose on humus in mixed woods (Quercus, Populus, Betula, Pinus res- osusus, P. banksiana and P. strobus, Sect.
35, Pelican Twp., Crow Wing Co., Minn. 12 Sep 1964. MGW # 1086. det. A. H. Sm.
The containers with specimens were filed by mushroom families and/or genera in unlidded, labeled boxes which I cut down from corrugated grocery cartons, covering the printed sides with Kraft tape and using the strips left from the cutting as dividers in the boxes. These boxes were stacked on metal shelves. This was my herbarium. The room that used to be the boys' playroom, was now my playroom. Subi Qasem, the graduate student from Jordan who had spent time with us at Pelican, had recommended a book on mushroom identification by Clyde Christensen, Department of Plant Pathology of the University of Minnesota, Common Fleshy Fungi. In addition to that book, I acquired another by Dr. Christensen, Common Edible Mushrooms, in which he described The Foolproof Four: Morels, or Sponge Mushrooms, Puffballs, Sulphur Shelf Mushrooms (Sulphur Polypores) and Shaggymanes I became acquainted with Dr. Christensen in 1961 when I sent fresh specimens requesting help in identification, learning that these were very young Polyporus sulphureus with pores so small that I did not see them, even with a magnifying hand lens. After a few exchanges in correspondence, I asked if I might meet with someone in his department to assist in the identification of some of my more interesting and puzzling collections, bringing a few transparencies together with notes and dried specimens. I mentioned that I would like some advice about dried specimens, to see the specimens in their herbarium, to discuss synonymy and the "correct" names according to the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, as well as information concerning the adoption of "new" genera. He replied graciously that he and Dr. French would be available for an hour or two some Saturday morning. His answers to my questions were most interesting, especially rereading his letter some thirty years later. In a letter dated October 24, 1962, Dr. Christensen stated:
"We have very few mushrooms in our herbarium, for obvious reasons. If pickled in alcohol or other preservative liquids, the mushrooms soon lose their characteristics and in fact are likely with handling to end up just a formless mass of gick in the bottom of the jar. Dried, most of them shrink and shrivel out of shape and are almost hopeless from a taxonomic standpoint. Soon they become invaded by beetles that consume them, unless constantly protected, and that requires more work than it is worth, since the dried specimens are only of limited value anyway. Third, many of the fleshy fungi that were at one time put in the herbarium here were identified by by collectors whose knowledge of the mushroom flora of the state and of other regions was limited, to put it mildly, and so many of them have been misidentified. As to "correct" names, according to the Botanical Rules of Nomenclature: these rules so far as I can see are just thrown out the window by most of the taxonomists dealing with mushrooms and related fungi - any one of them can - (and usually do) rearrange the species, genera, families, and so on in any way they happen to feel like doing."
In spite of his remarks, I continued drying my collections. Evidently he wasn't interested in using dried specimens for microscopic study. I sent dried specimens with descriptions of the fresh mushrooms to several authorities for identification and was excited and thrilled when I received their friendly and encouraging replies. Most of these people had not studied Minnesota collections previously. Collections were sent to: Dr. Walter Snell and Esther Dick of Brown University, Boletaceae; Dr. Ronald Peterson of Buffalo University, later of the University of Tennessee, Clavarariaceae; Dr. William Denison of Swarthmore College, Pezizaceae; Dr. Kenneth Harrison, University of Michigan Herbarium, Hydnaceae; Dr. Howard Bigelow of the University of Massachuetts, Clitocybe. Incidentally, I learned that Dr. Denison and Dr. Bigelow were Oberlin College graduates.
Somehow, I learned about a mushroom organization that was to meet at the University of Michigan Biological Station, Pellston, Michigan in 1963. Pete and I decided to go. Tom, too. We had a wonderful time, going on mushroom forays to see what we could find, having mushrooms identified by Alex Smith, a renowned mycologist, and talking about mushrooms with an interesting group of people. Being housed at the Station involved taking our own bedding, staying in a little corrugated iron cottage with a fireplace, and eating scrumptious food with fellow mushroomers in the large Station dining room.
I discovered that mushroom courses were given at the Station during the summer and was encouraged by Pete and the boys to apply for study there. The application blank I had to fill out asked for a college transcript and references from my college biology teacher. I hadn't studied biology, and if I had had a biology teacher, he would probably have been dead. The best I could do was to ask for references from some of the college profs who had helped me with mushroom identification, explaining my dilemma to them. They were very understanding and cooperative: William H. Snell, Brown University, who had identified some Boletes from Pelican; Clyde M. Christiansen, Plant Pathology Department, University of Minnesota, who encouraged me to specialize in Minnesota Boletes since little was known about them in Minnesota. I was excited when I learned that I was accepted to study at the Summer Session at Pellston in 1964."
Peg in the utility room at Pelican Lake, Sunset Beach where she is working on specimens for the dryer..
Peg reflects in Rememberings p 73
"For many years Michigan has been the center of mushroom collecting by outstanding mycologists from throughout the U. S. and foreign countries, so I was surprised to learn that the blond Crinipellis which I had collected was a new, undescribed species, which Bob Shaffer published as C. cremoricolor Shaffer and Weaver. The undergraduates said they felt sorry for me when they saw me working in the lab late in the evenings, but I was having a wonderful time! The two and a half months flew by. When Pete and Tom came to pick me up, we were housed in the Dean of Women's roomy, comfortable residence. During the summer I had shared a one-room, corrugated-metal, cottage with Olive Barlow, a medical doctor slightly younger than I, who was difficult, making disparaging and false remarks about me to her classmates, saying nasty things to me about my friendship with the Shaffers, etc. By giving me such fine quarters at the end of the session, Dr. Stockard, the Station Director, might have been trying to make it up to me for my unpleasant summer roommate I invited Bob Shaffer over in the evening so that he, Pete and Tom might become acquainted. Imbibing wine, we had an enjoyable confab."
p75 "After I wrote to my parents about how happy I was to be going to study mushrooms in Michigan, my mother replied that I should stay home with my family, that I shouldn't leave them even to attend Bible School. (I certainly wasn't interested in attending Bible School.) I was fifty-four years old and my mother was still trying to control me. Tom, the only boy at home, was a high school senior. Pete and Tom said they could manage. They probably enjoyed a summer by themselves.
It was wonderful to go back to school to pursue something in which I was intensely interested. I was most fortunate to study under Bob Shaffer who was an exceptionally good teacher. Previously, with instruction only from books, I had tried to do sectioning of mushrooms for microscopic study, not being too successful. Also, I had had difficulty interpreting what I saw under the microscope, especially the structure of pileus cuticle.
Four or five times a week a small group would go on forays, sometimes to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, traveling in a state-owned Ford Carry-All. The other students were Tana Burge, Sherm Brough and Rod Cyrus, all graduate students, much younger than I. However, they accepted me, a fifty-four-year-old-amateur, and didn't make me feel uncomfortable. When they learned that I was especially interested in studying boletes, they contributed those they had collected. Jocelyn, Bob Shaffer's wife, and Martha, his five-year-old daughter, accompanied us. "
1964 Michigan Biological Station -with Dr Bob Schaeffer, Jocelyn and daughter MarthaSchaeffer. Peg Weaver, Sherm Brough and Rod Cyrus.
Continuing on p 75 "Because the Herbarium of the University of Michigan had very few mushroom collections from Minnesota, Bob Shaffer wanted me to send mine This was an opening for me to make a contribution to the knowledge of Minnesota mushrooms. I was thrilled. Consequently I divided each of my collections and made a carbon copy of each description of the fresh specimens, keeping one and sending the other to Michigan with its collection, hoping that the part of the collection I was retaining would someday be housed in a Minnesota herbarium. I invested in a microscope and a drawing instrument to attach to the scope so that I could make tracings of images of spores, pileus cuticle, pleuro- and cheilocystidia and other definitive structures.
Two of my collections were identified by Alex Smith as new species: Fuscoboletinus weaverae A. H. Sm. & Shaffer, from Pelican; Psathyrella rhodosporaWeaver & A. H. Sm., from the Nerstrand Woods area. Although it is considered an honor to have a mushroom named after a person, such as Fuscoboletinus weaverae, I felt strongly that a name should be related to some character of the mushroom. Alex agreed to let me name Psathyrella rhodospora with rosy spores, "rhodo" being Greek for "rose", although he had suggested naming it P. calkinsii after the person who had collected it, Dr. H. E. Calkins, who brought it to me for identification, thinking it might be the pink-spored Pluteus cervinus which is edible. I was surprised that Alex listed me as the senior author, an honor, saying that I had done most of the work on the specimens.
Although Bob Shaffer had difficulty in convincing me that I should publish, I agreed to co-author two articles for the Journal of the Minnesota Academy of Science where we published lists of Minnesota species, noting when and where each was collected and the herbaria in which it was deposited. To get the correct identifications of some of my more puzzling collections I was able to send them to authorities in specific fields, many of whom had never seen Minnesota specimens previously. In their publication these authors then cited Minnesota collections which they had examined. Minnesota was on the mycological map! "
More from Peg p 76-78 of Rememberings " became concerned about what would eventually become of my herbarium, my many collections of Minnesota mushrooms being well documented with dried specimens and detailed descriptions of each collection. Since Dr. Christensen and Dr. French, Plant Pathology Department of the University of Minnesota, had expressed no interest in my herbarium, I tried to find a good home for it. Though I would prefer that it remain in Minnesota, feeling that Minnesota collections should stay in Minnesota, in
1969 I wrote to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago to inquire if it would accept my collections for deposit. I knew that it had fungal collections, since the world-renowned mycologist Dr. Rolf Singer did his work at the Field Museum. Dr. Ponce de Leon, Curator of Cryptogamic Botany, replied that they would be very happy to receive my collections, since they lacked Minnesota specimens.
In the meantime, Tom had described by herbarium to Don Lawrence, Botany Department of the University of Minnesota. In 1970 three University of Minnesota botany professors, Don Lawrence, Cliff Wetmore and Dave McLaughlin, came to Faribault to see it. Prior to their visit, I spruced up my herbarium with better labeling of the boxes containing my collections.
After their visit, I received word that the Botany Department of the U. of Minnesota would like to receive my 2,500 collections. Following is an excerpt from the letter I received from Eville Gorham, Professor and Head of the Botany Department:
As an acknowledgment of the diligent effort which you have expended in the preparation of your fine herbarium over the past eight years and as a tribute to your scientific contribution to the knowledge of the fungus flora of Minnesota we would like, it if meets with your approval, to recommend your appoint-ment as a Research Associate in the Department of Botany, without salary. Such an appointment, renewed annually, would provide all the privileges of a regular faculty member, including the library facilities and the use of research equipment when available, and eligibility for membership in the Campus Club.
I felt this was quite an honor and accomplishment since my only botany courses were six hours of mycology with a grade of A at the University of Michigan Biological Station. Subsequently I was invited with my family (Pete and Tom) to a dinner in my honor at the Faculty Club of the University, which was attended by Botany Department faculty members and their wives, Dave and Esther McLaughlin, Dr. and Mrs. Donald Lawrence, Dr. and Mrs. Eville Gorham, Dr. and Mrs. Clifford Wetmore, Dr. and Mrs. Gerald Ownbey, and Dr. Thomas Morley.
Our Faribault yard seemed to be a good habitat for mushrooms, especially for about fifteen different species of Lepiota. We ate only one species, L. rhachodes, a rather large mushroom which appeared frequently under our blue spruce trees and, over the years, furnished many delicious snacks. Other edible mushrooms from our yard: sulphur shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus), shaggy mane (Coprinus comatus), and fairy ring mushroom (Marasmius oreades). We tried the non-poisonous scaly polypore (Polyporus
squamosus) but didn't like its taste.
We weren't very venturesome about eating mushrooms, but, in addition to those listed above, from time to time we ate: from Faribault and Nerstrand Woods State Park, Coprinus comatus, morel (Morchella esculenta), meadow mushroom (Agaricus campestris); from the Pelican Lake area, chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius, a rather rare delicacy), Cantharellus cornucopiodes, oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus), honey mushroom (Armillaria mellea), Steinpilze (Boletus edulis), Hydnum repandum, Morchella angusticeps. Armillaria mellea was frequently so abundant in the fall that we dried quantities to use in hot dishes.
Pete took beautiful photographs of many mushrooms. Frequently we would go to Nerstrand Woods State Park and nearby areas, coming home loaded with photographs and mushrooms to describe and dry. Collecting was always done on summer trips to Pelican. The spruce bog on Lake George, in Cass County north of Pelican, was a fun place to collect because of the unique habitat, distinctive species and the lack of sand on the specimens. Pelican collections were so sandy that it was almost impossible to free them of the grit. For microscopic study even one grain of sand under a cover glass is disastrous.
Because it was difficult to find a place to stay when we wanted to go on over-night collecting trips on short notice, in 1967 we bought a small travel trailer, with eating nook, gas range, refrigerator, sofa. which was transformed into a small bed at night, and toilet. For our shakedown journey we traveled to St. Croix State Park on the St. Croix River, east of Hinkley, Minnesota, where we found a delightful camping spot under pine with well-spaced lots made for trailers and with electrical outlets. Bathroom facilities were close by with flush toilets. We saw our first deer early in the evening since few lots were occupied in early June. Deer again appeared near our trailer the following morning. We enjoyed well-marked nature trails with abundant sweet fern, which we hadn't seen previously in Minnesota. I collected some different mushrooms, Cryptoperous volvatus and Pholiota carbonaria,putting them on the small dryer Pete had constructed for use in the trailer. For snacks we found puffballs (Lycoperdon spp.), Boletus edulis (Steinpiltz) and Marasmius oreades (fairy-ring mushroom). Another trip was made to St. Croix St. Park in the trailer for a field meeting of the Minnesota Academy of Science. Finding time for mushroom collecting, as usual we found some species new to me. Mushroom collecting is such fun --- something new and exciting may turn up.
In addition to frequent day-time visits to Nerstrand Woods State Park, only a few miles from Faribault. several trips were made for overnight stays in our trailer to relax, get away from routine and collect fungi. Frequently we would see other Faribault folk out there for the weekend with their trailers, Mane and George Luedke, the Gerald Sears and the Milton Umbreits.
Pete and I took the trailer to Itasca State Park for a five-day stay in the crowded public campground. Dr. David French gave us a tour of a new building on the shore of Lake Itasca where mycology courses were taught, seeing its offices, laboratory and library. He then took us in his truck to his favorite fungi hunting grounds, followed by an introduction to his wife, and coffee at their Itasca home. Because of several weeks of dry weather, mushroom collecting was poor, though I did find interesting species which I had never collected before. Rhodotus palmatus
Another summer I arranged with Dr. French to collect with him at Itasca and have space in his laboratory for my microscope. Pete and I took the trailer so I would have a place to stay, parking it the Biological Station Campground where Dave (French) had reserved a parking space for me.
This Campground provided electrical and water hook-ups and a "bath house" nearby with showers (which kept me happy and refreshed in the hot weather), wash basins and toilets. I stayed for a week when Pete returned to pick me up. Sometimes I ate with the students and faculty in the mess hall of the Biological Station. More often I fixed something to eat in the trailer, the weather being so very hot (often 90 in the trailer) and humid, I didn't feel like getting dressed to go anywhere.
Collecting was excellent. I found many species which were new to me, Lactarius indigo, Ripartites tricholoma, Suillus acidus, Melastica chateri and many Clavariaceae. After Dave asked if one of his graduate students might use my microscope, he wanted my calibrations for measurements. I gave him the calibrations I used with oil-immersion lens and was shocked to learn that he did not use oil-immersion to study spores, only high-power. I use oil-immersion entirely for spore examination, lower magnification being inaccurate for making measurements and for determining spore ornamentation. Dave provided a place where I could set up my large dryer, which I was glad to have and kept it loaded. The Station didn't have dryers, relying on air-drying, for the few collections which were saved. I guess they didn't mind moldy collections.
Also staying at the Campground were Bob and Helen Marie Hoffman and Judy MacIntyre, who invited me for supper. Visiting with Judy, I learned that she was doing research on Loons and that she was a Carleton College graduate. Many years later after we had moved to Pelican, I read an article on loons that she had authored in the National Wildlife Magazine. Both the Hoffmans and Judy had become acquainted with Tom when he attended a summer session at the Station.
Since both Dr. Christensen and Dr. French encouraged me to work on the Boletaceae, because little was known about their occurrence in Minnesota, in 1966 I prepared a key for identification of species which might occur in the State. I was most grateful that Dr. Walter Snell and Dr. Esther Dick of Brown University provided much needed assistance for this project. In letters, Dr. Christensen and Dr. French expressed their appreciation for what I had accomplished. "
Again in the words of Peg Weaver in Rememberings P 102-3
"In the fall of 1977, the Alexander Smith Great Lakes Foray for mushroom people was held at the Biological Station of the University of Minnesota at Lake Itasca State Park. Seeing mushroom friends again was a treat: Alex and Helen Smith with daughter, Nancy Smith Weber, from the University of Michigan; Dave McLaughlin, my cohort in the Department of Botany at the University of Minnesota; Ingrid Bartelli, a vivacious gal from Marquette, Michigan, whom we had enjoyed at several Michigan forays; Joe Amirati, a specialist in the genus Cortinarius, who had identified some of my collections. We became acquainted with others: Elwin Stewart, Mary Palm and Gloria Warner from the Plant Pathology Department of the University of Minnesota; Harold Burdsall, M. J. Larsen, Clark Overbo, Walter Sundberg, and Europeans, Andreas Brezinsiki, Oliver Monthoux Henry Dissing (a
specialist in Helvella).Collecting at Itasca was excellent, finding several species of Hygrophorus that I had not previously collected. These were easily identified by Alex Smith who had published a book on this genus. Accompanying us to Itasca was the faithful, portable large mushroom dryer that Pete had made many years ago. Eating with the mushroomers at the Station, we enjoyed comfortable sleeping quarters at Nicolet Annex of Douglas Lodge. While collecting we had our first ever view of a great horned owl. Combining nature hobbies is natural -- ornithology and mycology in this instance.
In October of 1977, Dave McLaughlin and Steve Clement arrived in a University of Minnesota station wagon to pick up my herbarium for deposit in the Herbarium of the Botany Department of the University of Minnesota, a more secure location than the upstairs of our garage where it had been stored after moving it from Faribault. Having my collections at my finger tips to compare with newer collections, I was both sad and proud to see my herbarium transferred.
Pete Weaver's photo of the U of M Van at Pelican Lake garage in Oct 1977.
Dave McLaughlin and Peg Weaver with van ready to drive away with her collection....
My mom worked with Dave McLaughlin of the U of Minnesota for the next several years, and ended up being the primary author of this special publication of a key to the mushroom flora of Minnesota.
And Peg Weaver, Aug 2007 obit printed in the Minneapolis Tribune