Date: August 14-16, 2015
Leaders: Charlotte Caplan
Our annual visit to Purchase Knob attracted only 21 participants – nine staying in the house, including our guests Alan & Arleen Bessette, four camping outside, and eight coming up just for the day on Saturday. We had a wonderful time and wished a few more members had shared it with us.
On Friday afternoon we walked the Ferguson Cabin trail, pausing to shelter from a thunderstorm on the cabin porch. The rain was never heavy and cleared later to give us a view of the “smoky” mountains at their most beautiful.
In the evening Alan gave us a talk on Ascomycetes – they account for 75% of the macrofungi species, but are usually represented by only a handful of examples on our display tables because they are often overooked in favor of the larger basidiomycete “mushrooms”.
Saturday morning our augmented group split in two and went north and south along the Cataloochee divide trail. This was where we found most of our collections, including a huge fruiting of Jack O'Lanterns (Omphalotus illudens) around the same hardwood snag where we found it last year. A bunch of us crammed into a windowless bathroom to test its luminscence and were rewarded with a faint glow from the more mature caps – nothing from the young ones. Saturday afternoon was too wet for most people to foray, but three crazy guys went out anyway and brought in some soggy specimens. We finished the day with an excellent potluck.
After Sunday's pancake breakfast, Alan gave us a tour of the tables, assisted by Charlotte and Mike, and then we cleaned up, took a final hike south to the Swag Inn and back, and went home.
The final species tally was 157, including a decent total of 17 ascomycetes. Ten species were new to the Club and seven may be new to the All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) for the Smokies. AMC has been a major contributor to the ATBI over the past 20 years.