Educational exhibit about mushrooms on display at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens |

Educational exhibit about mushrooms on display at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

Krista Driscoll
Brilliant photos hang Wednesday as part of the "Mushrooms: Keys to the Kingdom Fungi" exhibit in the Education Center at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail. The six-week exhibit runs until Sept. 30.
Chris Dillmann | |

If you go …

What: “Mushrooms: Keys to the Kingdom Fungi.”

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through Friday, Sept. 30.

Where: Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Education Center, Ford Park, 522 S. Frontage Road, Vail.

Cost: Free.

More information: Call 970-476-0103, or visit

VAIL — “Mushrooms: Keys to the Kingdom Fungi,” an educational exhibit exploring the lives and environmental roles of fungi, is on display at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Education Center through Friday, Sept. 30.


The display, which was put together by a California company called Exhibit Envoy, focuses on the ecology of mushroom-producing fungi and teaches about their beauty, diversity and critical importance to the environment.

“I think the best way to think about mushrooms is they’re the fruit of fungi, just like apples on a tree,” said Nanette Kuich, education coordinator for Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. “But the body of the fungus, it spreads for miles underground potentially. It forms symbiotic relationships with trees; that’s one type of fungus.

“And then we also have to be really thankful for a second type of fungus that are decomposers. And decomposers are responsible for breaking down organic matter and returning it back into the natural system. If we didn’t have those guys around, we’d be buried in dead leaves.”

The exhibit features 30 photographs of mushrooms in the wild taken by Northern California naturalists John Whittlesey and Jennifer Jewell. Through large, detailed photographs, 3D models and hands-on demonstrations, this exhibit introduces viewers to a wide range of mushroom-producing fungi and their valuable roles in the environment.

“I think what’s really amazing is the interconnectivity of the trees in our ecosystem with the fungi underground, especially the Douglas firs around here love the mushrooms,” Kuich said. “They’re also a major food source for squirrels and bears.”


To gain insight into local mushrooms in Colorado, mycologist Vera Stucky Evenson will present in-depth information about mushrooms in the region on Friday, Sept. 9, from 5 to 8 p.m. Evenson is curator of the Sam Mitchell Herbarium of Fungi at the Denver Botanic Gardens, author of “Mushrooms of the Rocky Mountain Region” and co-author of “Rocky Mountain Mushrooms by Habitat.”

The presentation will be followed by a hands-on mycology workshop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10. Participants will get an in-depth view of mushrooms, the “fruit” of fungi, and how they are related to their habitat and learn and practice how mycologists identify mushrooms through chemical tests and spore printing.

The cost to attend the presentation is $20, and the workshop is $25. Tickets are available by calling 970-476-0103 or by visiting http://www.betty The Education Center at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is located in Ford Park just west of the playground.

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