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AMC Foray: 09-28-2018

Foray Leader: Alan and Arleen Bessette, Andy Methven, Walt Sturgeon, and AMC’s own Mike Hopping.
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Once again we joined with our sister clubs, the Mushroom Club of Georgia and the SC Upstate Mycological Society, for a long weekend at Oconee State Park in South Carolina. Around 85 people attended, including a strong group of mycologists: Alan and Arleen Bessette, Andy Methven, Walt Sturgeon, and AMC’s own Mike Hopping. Charlotte Caplan acted as recorder. Five members of AMC’s ID training group attended: Laurie Jaegers & Frank Bartucca worked hard on identification and Terri Cranfield provided invaluable help with the recording process. The weather was unseasonably warm and humid, but the ground was dry, with no trace of the inch or so of rain from Tropical Storm Florence that had fallen the previous weekend.

Friday started with an afternoon hike then an evening talk by Walt Sturgeon on some of his favorite mid-west mushrooms, followed by an ice-cream social. Saturday saw more foraying, an afternoon class by Bill Sheehan on mushroom evolution, the famous potluck dinner, and a wildly successful auction conducted by Tradd Cotter. On Sunday the usual walk around the tables was enhanced by Bill Sheehan’s presentation of a 16ft long phylogenetic tree covering the main orders and families of macrofungi, with actual specimens placed along the tree.

What did we find? At first the park seemed dryer and more barren of mushrooms than we had ever seen it, and yet, Oconee always surprises us. The tables filled with specimens, many collected in only one or two of the eight foray locations. By Saturday night it was clear that we had, yet again broken the record for the number of species, with a grand total of 232, of which 222 were identified to species and the remaining 10 to genus or family, with a good chance of getting a species name from DNA sampling through the Mycoflora Project. Persistent collecting and our strong ID team were undoubtedly factors in this satisfying result.

64 species (29%) were new records for Oconee. Interesting finds were a splendid specimen of Scorias spongiosa, the Beech Aphid Poop Fungus; the seldom-collected, and easily overlooked, ascomycete Pleurocolla compressa; and the extremely common White False Coral (Sebacina schweinitzii or Tremellodendron pallidum), which was remarkable only because it had not been found at Oconee before. Why so rare here? Commonest mushrooms were Boletus longicurvipes, Heimioporus betula, and Trametes versicolor.