Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, January 5, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 5



 Mountain Views News Saturday, January 5, 2013 


By Christopher Nyerges

[Nyerges is the author of “Self-Sufficient Home,” “Guide to Wild Foods,” and other 
books. He leads plant walks, and hosts a weekly podcast at Preparedness Radio 
Network. He can be reached at School of Self-reliance, Box 41834, Eagle Rock, 
CA 90041, or]

“What’s Going On?” 

News and Views from Joan Schmidt


 During 2012, my son took an Oceanography course through Chaffey 
College. Among the field trips was one to Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San 
Pedro. For this assignment, you were on your own. It included a several page 
packet which was to be filled out during your “tour”.

 Since another student brought his son to the previous field trips, my 
husband and three grandkids accompanied my son to Cabrillo Marine 
Aquarium in San Pedro. What a great excursion/learning experience it was! 
My husband commented that he preferred this aquarium to Long Beach and it was not as pricey. The 
suggested donation is $5 for Adults; $1 for Seniors/Child.

 Cabrillo Marine Museum is “an educational recreational and research facility dedicated to 
providing rich and varied opportunities for early and continuing education of the general public 
about the marine environment of Southern California,” and it has achieved this goal.

 The five components of the Aquarium are the Main Exhibit Hall, Exploration Center, 
Aquatic Nursery, Virginia Reid Marine Research Library and Marine Laboratory Classroom.

 In the Main Exhibit Hall, three major environments are showcased: rocky shores, sand 
and mud, and open ocean. Included were Plantlike Animals, Seaweed and Grazers, Hunters of the 
Rocky Shore, Mudflats, Kelp Forests, Sharks and Rays, Seabirds and Pinnipeds, Jellyfish lab, Whales 
and Dolphins. My granddaughter’s favorite was the Tidepool Touch Tank with starfish! She also 
mentioned pregnant seahorses!

 The Exploration Center was very enjoyable to the grandkids! They used their five senses to 
explore the habitats of Cabrillo Coastal Park and find out their role in the watershed. There was a 
Watershed, Coastal Habitats, Worm’s Eye View of Mud, Naturalist’s Corner, Breakwater Tank, Crawl 
under Tank, Discovery Center and Ecological Play Area.

 The Aquatic Nursery was a real learning experience. It included an Aquaculture Kitchen, 
Volunteer Projects, Research for Teaching, Sharing, and Science, and Growing for Food. Here they 
saw food being grown for the various forms of sea life.

 After my son’s course paperwork was completed, my family had a picnic lunch on a grass area 
at the Aquarium. There is so much one can do in the area besides visiting the Aquarium. The Cabrillo 
Beach Coastal Park includes tide pools of the Point Fermin Marine Life Refuge, the ocean beach, 
Los Angeles breakwater, fishing pier, harbor beach, boat launch pier, Salinas de San Pedro salt marsh, 
fossil cliffs and nature plant garden all in an easy fully accessible walk!

 The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is located at 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro, 
California 90731. It also has a gift shop .For program information, call (310) 548-2052 or go online to

 The hours are Tuesday- Friday, 12 noon to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday, 10am-5pm, Closed 


Last Sunday, December 30, I 
conducted a mushroom walk, 
something I haven’t done in a long 
while. In the early 1970s, I got 
involved with the L.A. Mycological 
Association, and learned how to 
identify wild mushrooms, and use 
the edible ones for food. I had some 
great mentors, such as Robert Tally, 
and Bill Breen, who taught me how 
to find and cook wild mushrooms. 

 When I was fixated on mycology 
for several years, I spent all my 
spare time and all my spare money 
seeking out mushrooms and 
photographing them. Still, though 
my weekend students didn’t know 
it, I am far from an expert. 

 Though I learned most of 
what I needed to know during 
my intensive study of mycology 
in the 70s, I began to wake up to 
the fact that there was more to life 
than mushrooms. Duh! That is, I 
knew all the common poisonous 
mushrooms, and I knew far more 
edible ones than I’d ever eat. To 
spend a significant amount of 
my life to pursue it even further 
would have had no practical value 
except if I were to pursue being a 
professional mycologist. 

 During the 70s, I would eat 
mushrooms that others in the 
association found or brought to 
meeting that they declared were 
edible. I would study them, take 
note and photos, and try them 
when I got home. I recall a phrase, 
“this mushroom is known to 
disagree with some people.” That 
translates as, “you will be vomiting 
violently at 2 a.m.” which happened 
a little too often. So I lost my desire 
to try every wild mushroom. Plus, 
beyond the common mushrooms, 
most of them began to get 
categorized as the “LBMs,” the 
“little brown mushrooms”, which 
were never identified to genus 
because it would have taken more 
time than I cared to give to the task.

 Sunday’s walk was organized by a 
member of the current Los Angeles 
Mushroom Society, David Kahn. 
I featured a section about David 
Kahn in my book “Self-Sufficient 
Home,” [available from Amazon, 
or www.ChristopherNyerges.
com] where Kahn talked about his 
interest in permaculture and how 
he practices those principles of 
food production at his Los Angeles 

 The problem with scheduling 
mushroom walks is that scheduling 
generally takes place weeks, if not 
months, ahead of the event, and 
mushrooms are very particular 
about when they pop up. 
Conditions all need to be “just so” 
for the mushrooms to arise, such as 
the season, under the correct trees, 
amount of moisture, temperature, 
and other variations. Though we 
had adequate rain in late December, 
I knew that moisture alone would 
not guarantee a good mushroom 

 As it turned out, we had a very 
successful walk in the Arroyo Seco. 
We walked under oaks mostly, 
where layers of wood chips had 
been laid down, and in other areas 

 We repeatedly found specimens 
of at least three very common 
mushrooms. The first was the 
Lepiota rhacodes (sometimes 
called the parasol mushroom). 
This one appears as a white gilled 
mushroom, with brown patches 
on the cap, a ring on the stem, a 
bulbous base, and a hollow stem. It 
stains orange when cut or bruised. 
It’s an excellent mild-tasting 
mushroom when sautéed in butter. 
We also found many specimens of 
the Agaricus campestris and related 
species, which is basically the wild 
variety of the common store-
bought mushroom. This one has 
pink gills which turn a chocolate 
color as the spores mature, a ring 
on the stout stem, and a stem that 
breaks freely from the cap. 

The third common one we 
found was the blewitt, so called 
because the entire mushroom 
is an unmistakable violet color. 
The Latin name for this one has 
changed periodically. I first learned 
it as Tricholoma nuda, then it was 
Lepista nuda, now the mycologists 
appear to have settled on Clitocybe 
nuda. It has a stout stem with free 
gills. We all found enough of these 
three that many of the participants 
got to take some home to cook.

We also found one young and 
beautiful bolete, a Boletus 
chrysenteron. This one has a light 
brown cap, and a yellowish and 
somewhat swollen stalk. There are 
no gills, but pores. The boletes 
are a very safe group of fungi, 
though you still need to know 
each mushroom you eat. These are 
sliced and sautéed, with a flavor 
and texture like eggplants.

We found a few of the inky caps, 
including Coprinus atramentarius, 
which causes vomiting if consumed 
with alcohol. The inky caps must 
be collected and cooked when they 
are young and white, because as 
they get old, they decompose into 
a blank ink.

Towards the end, we found a 
beautiful young Volvaria speciosa, 
which is edible but looks too 
much like the deadly Amanitas, 
so I always advise beginners to 
not eat it. This one has a cup, like 
Amanitas, but lacks the ring on 
the stem that is characteristic of 

We also found many LBMs, and 
also identified several wild greens 
along the way. Everyone had a 
good introductory experience to 
mushroom hunting, but realized 
that a lot of time should be spent 
in learning how to identify before 
you ever eat any wild mushrooms 
on your own. I spent at least two 
years in the field before feeling 
confident enough to consume 
wild mushrooms by myself. It 
may not take everyone that long 
– after all, once you learn one 
wild mushroom, you can always 
pick that one and use it. But 
you should never eat any wild 
mushroom that you have not 
positively identified. 

To learn more, you could research 
on-line, get a good mycology 
book at a local bookstore, and 
you are also welcome to email 
images to me. If I can identify 
them, I will do so.


 Scientists found treasure when they studied a meteorite that was recovered April 22, 2012, at Sutter’s 
Mill near Coloma, Calif., the gold discovery site that led to the 1849 California Gold Rush. Detection of the 
falling meteorites by Doppler weather radar allowed for rapid recovery so that scientists could study for the 
first time a primitive meteorite that had little exposure to the elements—providing the most pristine look 
yet at the surface of primitive asteroids.

 An international team of 70 researchers reported their findings in the Dec. 20 issue of Science magazine 

 “The small three-meter-sized asteroid that impacted over California’s Sierra Nevada came in at twice 
the speed of typical meteorite falls,” said lead author and meteor astronomer Peter Jenniskens of the SETI 
Institute, Mountain View, Calif., and NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. “Clocked at 64,000 
miles per hour, it was the biggest impact over land since the impact of the four-meter-sized asteroid 2008 
TC3, four years ago over Sudan.”

 The Sutter’s Mill meteorite fall occurred just before 8 a.m. April 22 as an uncommon daytime fireball. 
It passed south of Reno, Nev., headed west, and was seen across Nevada and California. Residents around 
Coloma, Calif., reported hearing a “scary” loud sonic boom that shook their houses.

 These are signatures of a meteorite fall, and there was immediate interest in finding the site where any 
meteorites would have landed. Traditional meteorite recovery based on eyewitness accounts, however, is a 
tedious and uncertain process. The American Meteor Society estimates that one meteorite fall occurs every 
day somewhere on Earth, and yet the Meteoritical Society typically records only about 10 new meteorite 
falls worldwide each year. Meteorite falls are fairly common, but meteorite recoveries are a rare event.

 A new tool is improving those odds. Weather radars operated by the National Weather Service continually 
scan the skies over the United States, and the researchers realized that any meteorites that fall in the U.S. 
could be detected on radar. Sure enough, weather radars not only recorded the Sutter’s Mill 
fall, but actually presented that data while the fall was still in progress.

 After the asteroid broke up in the atmosphere, weather radar briefly detected a hailstorm 
of falling meteorites over the townships of Coloma and Lotus in California. This enabled a 
rapid recovery that permitted the most pristine look yet at a CM-type carbonaceous chondrite.

 Of the original asteroid, estimated to have weighed 100,000 pounds, less than two pounds 
was recovered on the ground—in the form of 77 meteorites. The biggest of these weighed 205 
grams. Some of the key meteorites discussed in this work were found by volunteer search 
teams led by Jenniskens.

 “The meteorite was a jumbled mess of rocks, called a regolith breccias, that originated from 
near the surface of a primitive asteroid,” said meteoriticist Derek Sears of NASA Ames. NASA 
and the Japanese space agency (JAXA) have plans to send space probes to asteroids similar to 
the one recovered at Sutter’s Mill. The Sutter’s Mill meteorite provides a rare glimpse of what 
these space missions may find.

 Because of the rapid recovery of the Sutter’s Mill meteorite, many carbon-containing 
compounds were detected in their pristine condition—compounds that would have quickly 
reacted with water once in the Earth’s environment. It is thought that the carbon atoms in our 
bodies may have been brought to Earth by such primitive asteroids in the early stages of our 
planet’s history.

 “Only 150 parts per billion of the Sutter’s Mill meteorite was actual gold,” said co-author 
and cosmochemist Qing-zhu Yin of UC Davis, Davis, Calif., “but all of it was scientific gold. 
With 78 other elements measured, Sutter’s Mill provides one of the most complete records of 
elemental compositions documented for such primitive meteorites.”

 You can contact Bob Eklund at:

Merv de Haas horse pasture, near Lotus, California, which is the site of where the 
Sutter’s Mill meteorite fragment was found on May 3, 2012. The site was searched 
during ground search using aerial sightings. Image credit: NASA / Ed Schilling

Fragments of the Sutter’s Mill meteorite fall collected by NASA Ames and SETI Institute meteor astronomer 
Dr. Peter Jenniskens in the evening of Tuesday April 24, two days after the fall. This was 
the second recovered find. Image credit: NASA / Eric James