PULLMAN, Wash. – Two free public talks about medicinal mushrooms and poisoning will be Monday, May 2, at Washington State University, hosted by the Palouse Mycological Association and the Department of Plant Pathology.
Speaker Denis R. Benjamin, a medical doctor, will speak at 4 p.m. in Johnson 343 about “The Sociology of Mushroom Poisoning – Who Gets Poisoned and Why.” He will speak at 7 p.m. in Smith CUE 319 about “Medicinal Mushrooms – a Critical Evaluation.”
“Some of our plant pathology faculty are recognized experts in mushroom identification and taxonomy,” said Hanu Pappu, professor and chair of the department. “The visit and talks by Dr. Benjamin provide an opportunity to learn more about some of the science behind mushrooms.”
Benjamin grew up in South Africa and emigrated to the Pacific Northwest in 1970. He practiced pediatric pathology at the children’s hospitals in Seattle and in Fort Worth, Texas. He became an amateur mycologist soon after his arrival in the United States.
He recently returned to the east slopes of the Cascade Mountains in Washington to continue his passion for mushrooms, the outdoors and natural history. He is a former member of the board of trustees of the Puget Sound Mycological Society, past chairman of the toxicology committee of the North American Mycological Association, and was a consultant to the regional poison control center. He is a frequent speaker at mushrooms clubs and societies.
In addition to nearly 100 professional publications, he has contributed to the lay literature and mushroom magazines. He was chosen to be a community op/ed writer for the Fort Worth Star Telegram newspaper. He is author of the landmark book on the health effects of mushrooms, “Mushrooms: Poisons and Panaceas,” and recently published a collection of mushroom foraging essays, “Musings of a Mushroom Hunter: A Natural History of Foraging.”