Arkansas Mycological Society

The purpose of the Arkansas Mycological Society (AMS) is to educate its members in the differences between—and the similarities that occur within—edible, inedible, and poisonous mushrooms and other fungi that occur in Arkansas and to promote overall interest in Arkansas’s mushrooms and fungi.

In the fall of 1980, Edith Nelson and Jay Justice, who had both recently joined the North American Mycological Society (NAMA), delivered a presentation on mushrooms and fungi at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Edith Nelson (who died in 2004) was a retired high school teacher who had taught history and math, and Jay Justice was a chemist employed at what was at the time the Arkansas Department of Pollution Control and Ecology (now the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality). After the presentation, they issued an offer to others to become founding members of a new mycological society in Arkansas. Three people responded, and the AMS was formed the following year with five original members.

Since its inception, the AMS has accumulated a database to record mushrooms and fungi that have been found in Arkansas. This data suggests that Arkansas has a combination of southern and eastern mushrooms and fungi—that is, one can find mushrooms in the state that are known to occur in states that lie east and south of Arkansas, but not as far south as the Gulf Coast.

The AMS conducts scheduled forays on selected Saturdays throughout the year during the typical fruiting season of mushrooms and fungi (March–November) and sponsors mushroom workshops at several state parks, usually in the fall. The society publishes a newsletter, Arkansas Fungi, typically four times a year, to promote the overall interest in the state’s mushrooms and fungi.

On the last weekend of October 2013, the AMS hosted the NAMA’s annual organized foray, which was near Marshall (Searcy County). This was the first time that the NAMA had ever participated in a major foray in Arkansas. About 170 amateur and professional mycologists from all over the United States participated in this foray, at which two mushrooms were discovered that later were determined to be new to science.

For additional information:
“NAMA Affiliated Clubs.” North American Mycological Association. (accessed September 8, 2021).

Jay Justice
Arkansas Mycological Society


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