Wintergreen is a beautiful low growing, glossy green plant that grows along many hiking trails in southern Maine. My one amazing trail trick is to pull a few leaves, break them gently to release the wonderful aroma and thus, astound my friends with my knowledge of woodland plants. Alas, that is one of the few plants I can easily identify with confidence. There is no doubt that during Covid people are spending more time outdoors. The trails are often crowded and I am fairly confident that most of the ramblers know far more than me about things growing around them.

Toward the end of 2021, someone approached the reference desk and asked if we had any books about wild mushrooms. I knew we did, so I guided them to the area only to find every single mushroom and wild foraging book was checked out. I quickly selected several new titles on the subject and started researching a speaker to invite to discuss the interesting world of Maine’s mushrooms.

McArthur Library will be hosting a free evening lecture with Greg Marley, author of “Mushrooms for Health: Medicinal Secrets of Northeastern Fungi,” and the award-winning “Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares: The Love, Lore, and Mystic of Mushrooms.”

Mushrooms in the wild bring out a strong range of emotions and interests. Today many people seek them out as a locally foraged source of delicious and nutritious food or to support optimum health. Others treat them with the caution learned in childhood, assuming all wild mushrooms must be poisonous and seek to rid their yards of the colorful fruit. Beyond the association with food or poison, the fungi that produce mushrooms play an invaluable role in the ecology of our forests and fields. The very health of our plant communities depend upon ongoing dynamic relationships with resident fungi. Join Maine mycologist and author Greg Marley for a romp through the fascinating world of Maine’s mushrooms.

Greg Marley has been collecting, studying, eating, growing and teaching mushrooms for over 45 years. He has spread his love of mushrooms to hundreds through walks, talks and classes held across New England over the past 30 years. As a volunteer mushroom identification consultant to Poison Centers across New England since 2001, he provides expertise in mushroom poisoning cases. When not mushrooming, Marley works as a mental health clinician and behavioral health consultant specializing in suicide prevention.

The program is a free virtual program to be held on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. The link can be found on the library’s website or by emailing Melanie Coombs at [email protected]. Or call the library for more information at 207-284-4181.

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