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Tour the Mushroom Kingdom on Saturday

Invasive species specialist and foraging enthusiast Steven Kirkpatrick will present a free, informative talk on Saturday for anyone that wants to hunt for local mushrooms.

“Mushroom Foraging for Beginners” will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday at the North Suffolk Library, 2000 Bennetts Creek Park Road. Library memberships are not required to attend, and attendees can sign up for a mushroom foraging walk later this March.

A self-described “nature boy,” Kirkpatrick loves to forage for kitchen recipes at home. The North Suffolk Rotary Club president will begin his presentation with basics on mycology and the specific parts of mushrooms.

He will then highlight six different mushrooms that can be found in Hampton Roads, such as the Oyster Mushroom and the Shaggy Mane, and rarer and tastier finds like the Bearded Tooth, which looks like “a cauliflower with fur sitting on a tree,” he said.

“The idea is to give people enough of an education so that if we were to go on a foraging trip, they would have enough of an idea of what they’re looking for,” he said.

He wants people to understand that hunting for mushrooms is not as dangerous as they may think it is, as long as they’ve done their homework and know which to avoid.

Part of his presentation will cover “toxic lookalikes” of edible mushrooms so that attendees will understand the difference between them and their dangerous cousins.

“It’s really not dangerous if you know the basics, and there are mushrooms that you can be confident are safe,” he said.

Kirkpatrick will make arrangements for the foraging walk and notify participants after the presentation when the weather cooperates. Visit suffolkpubliclibrary.com for more information.