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Introduction to the Fatto Herbarium

The Raymond M. Fatto Herbarium consists of 1045 Russula collections and 201 Inocybe collections. Among the Russula are 211 species and varieties; among the Inocybe, 61 species and varieties. However in both groups numerous collections are not identified to species and were considered by Fatto as undescribed or not identifiable for lack of sufficient detail. Nevertheless he usually recorded characteristics and sketches of such collections, assigning them “unknown” numbers. To access the “indets” (unidentified collections), search on "Russula sp.," or "Inocybe sp." The unknown numbers show up in a “Note” in the “All Determinations” field of open records. Many of the specimens were collected in New Jersey and the Northeastern U.S. but a large number come from elsewhere throughout North America, especially the American West and the Gulf States. Fatto took part over several seasons in the Chiricahua Mycoflora Project in Arizona. On one trip in 1988, he collected in England and Scotland.

Active with amateur mycology groups, Fatto participated at local and regional forays where he acquired most of his material. Frequently he was the collector, however he often came by specimens from anonymous collectors and a collector name is usually missing from his field notes. Site information consists of a word or two without geographic specifics, while sites include places regularly visited by the NJMA or on the field-trip lists of regional forays.

One regional event, the Northeastern Mycological Foray, benefited in a major way by Fatto’s participation over the years that he attended. His specimen determinations, especially in the Russulaceae, contributed significantly to the breadth and quality of the foray’s comprehensive checklist.

Fatto worked during his professional career on paint pigments, an experience that would give him an advantage in judging the subtle colors in the Russula palette. He knew many species on sight but he was also diligent in subjecting specimens to spore printing, reagent testing and microscopic study. With Russulas, he recorded details on a small standard form (4 x 5.25 inches) synchronized with the Kibby and Fatto key. With Inocybes, he often simply noted characteristics applying his letter codes; in addition usually to sketching microscopic details for collections of either genus. He attempted to retain spore prints with preserved specimens. In making determinations, he relied heavily on hymenophore and spore-deposit color, tissue taste and smell, spore ornamentation determined by reaction with Melzer's reagent, hyphal description including staining reaction with sulfovanilin and other characteristics.

While Fatto was most known for his work on Russulas, he also studied and occasionally lectured on Inocybes. He developed a letter-code key for identifying Inocybe to species similar to the system in his and Geoffrey Kibby’s Russula key, starting with a provisional Inocybe key created by British author and photographer, Roger Phillips. The link, “Inocybe Key and Color Chips,” opens up a pdf file presenting Fatto’s key in a 14-page Inocybe document. The key works with letter codes for eight typical characteristics, plus certain other information. The pdf contains alphabetical sorts in species-name order as well as letter-code order. It also has two color plates of chips from the Munsell color system and a concordance with Ridgway color names.

With difficult taxa, or with "unknowns," Fatto returned frequently to his material to reassess his determinations. For example, he had acquired 12 collections which he initially determined to be Russula macropoda, all but one from the Northeast. At some point after the year 2000, he changed his mind about those determinations and of the 12 collections, one was revised as R. tenuiceps and 10 were assigned one of three different "unknown" numbers. The twelfth specimen, from New Mexico, was changed to general unknown status.

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