On Saturday June 30th, AMC returned to Rocky Fork State Park for another annual foray which returned some great results and enjoyable interactions among members, both new and seasoned. Rocky Fork State Park is 2,058 acres of scenic wilderness in Unicoi County, in the southern Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee. Though it is a relatively short drive from Asheville, it boasts some stunning waterways and rich and diverse forest communities. On this occasion we were joined by our speaker from the pevious Thursday, Prof. Andy Methven, of Savannah State University.
The 26 participants split into three groups under the leadership of Charlotte Caplan, Ginger Fisher, and Dan Manning and followed the Rocky Fork, White Oak Flats, and Flint Creek trails. We had sunny weather in the high 70s after a week of intermittent rains which set the stage for the emergence of a wide variety of finds. Several of our mushroom experts commented on the welcome challenge that identification presented when all three groups reunited with their spoils at the fire ring starting point.
Thanks to Sonia Marcus who stepped up to lead a foray for the first time under the able guidance of Alice Cohen who was not able to participate this year, and to Gwen Casebeer who took all those plates home to create the species list.. Thanks also to the group leaders who not only kept our members on track and well-informed but also provided us, in Ginger's case, with home-baked peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.
We found and identified a total of 96 species – a record for a June AMC foray. Six species were new to AMC, including a very cool spider parasite, Torrubiella arachnophila. Frank Bartucca is really getting into these entomophages!