Matchmaker : Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest is an aid to identifying mushrooms. Over 2000 gilled mushrooms of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia are presented.
A simple entry form allows you to enter information about a mushroom (its characteristics), and get a list of the mushrooms that fit the information. Written descriptions of the matched mushrooms can be used to narrow the list further. This does not take the effort out of identification, which is always challenging and not always successful, but it does provide another useful tool.
The original non-profit program was designed for CD-ROM and is available from Ian Gibson for a nominal fee to cover materials and postage, at . In that program, there are more than 1200 illustrations of 650 of the gilled species, as well as over 750 illustrations of almost 400 nongilled species. A subset of the illustrations of gilled species is presented here.
Matchmaker : Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest is for amateurs and professionals who identify mushrooms. It is not intended as a substitute for outings with knowledgeable people or for field guides, both of which are necessary as well. (It should NEVER be used as the sole means of deciding whether a mushroom is edible.) It is a short cut to enable you to learn about and identify mushrooms more easily and quickly.
If you know some characteristics of a mushroom, but do not know which key in a field guide to use, or you reach a dead end in a key because you don't know the characteristic it asks for, you can enter into the computer the information you DO know. A list will be presented of all the species matching the information you know.
For instance, you might open the excellent field guide, Mushrooms Demystified, by David Arora, to p221, Key to Omphalina and Xeromphalina. You find a mushroom that you think belongs to this group. The first question is whether it has a wiry stem: you answer no. The second question asks you whether it is growing on wood (sometimes buried) or on the ground. If you can't decide whether there's wood underneath the ground, you are stuck. What experienced key-users do is to follow each answer to its conclusion, sometimes along many branches, and back up if they reach a dead end. A simpler approach, for those who have a computer at hand, is to be able to enter all the information you do know, and have the computer give you a list of mushrooms that fit that information. You can then check the written descriptions to narrow the choices further. That is what MMPNW does.