Lina Rodriguez-Salamanca

Even Iowa mushroom hunters need to mind their social distancing if they’re hunting in a group, according to one of the experts at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Lina Rodriguez Salamanca, an ISU plant pathology diagnostician, will be teaching her annual Safe Mushroom Foraging workshop next month — though this time, it will all be online using Zoom.

“We have done some workshops in the past and they’ve been very successful where people would just come to the county office to watch me from campus,” she says, “but this time, people will be in their own homes watching me, as opposed to going to the county office.”

The much-coveted morel mushrooms are starting to appear in wooded areas, especially in southern and southeastern Iowa. Rodriguez Salamanca says foraging awareness is vital, and there are always risks associated with eating wild mushrooms.

“A lot of people do want to become mushroom hunters,” she says. “That is a good thing that they’re being proactive about learning the best hunting practices and what are the potential poisons and look-alike mushrooms they need to be aware of and avoid as much as possible.”

Morel mushrooms.

The virtual workshop will cover things like identification traits, foraging safety, and distinguishing between edible and non-edible varieties of mushrooms. Rodriguez Salamanca says coronavirus also plays a role in how you hunt. “We need to be very cautious and practice the CDC recommendations, practice our social distancing,” she says. “As you hunt, if you are going in a group, make sure that you’re keeping six feet in between people, make sure you’re washing your hands and that you are wearing a mask when needed.”

The first hour-long spring workshop will be held on May 5th at 6 p.m. It’s free but you need to register in advance. It’ll be limited to 300 participants. If you register for both the spring and fall online workshops, you’ll get a free copy of the soon-to-be-released “Safe Mushroom Foraging Guide” from ISU.

(Photos courtesy of ISU)