The natural history collections at the Norris Center contain approximately 1,500 specimens of fungi collected from across California, with a particular focus on the Redwood Coast Region. Most were collected by Christian Schwarz and Noah Siegel, as well as some specimens collected by former museum curator Tonya Haff. It also includes a few specimens collected by David Arora, a former UCSC student and one of Santa Cruz’s first serious mushroom enthusiasts.
The fungal collections here are special: they cover our county very thoroughly, probably more thoroughly than any other county in California to date. The specimens are also extremely well-photographed, meaning that we will not be left guessing at the 'face' of the organisms we are studying. Microscopic data accompanies many of the collections, and many more of the specimens are being worked on by a small but dedicated body of undergraduate students, graduate researchers and community members doing thesis projects, ecology research or independent studies.
Many of the specimens are part of the ongoing Herbarium Sequencing Project funded by the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz. Read more about it and see the results here.We are in the process of representing our specimens, their associated photographs, microscopic data, and DNA sequences on Mushroom Observer and MycoPortal. We also loan specimens out to amateurs, unlike many other collections. We believe strongly that citizen scientists and non-professional enthusiasts are a core part of the future of mushroom taxonomy.