Big Ridge Foray
Date: April 5-7, 2013 / Leader: Charlotte Caplan

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It was another disappointing year for morels at Big Ridge. Last year we were too late, this year too early. The unseasonably cold, wet weather in March had delayed the start of the morel season.

About 50 members took part, and for the first time we stayed at the group camp site. It’s a lovely quiet location and the hall has a lot more space than the recreation room. The bunkhouses are spartan: 6–8 bunk beds in each cabin with screens, no glass, in the windows. Because of the damp weather some mildew was evident, but still they were more convenient than tents and the general consensus was that we should book the site again for next year. So we did.

Led by George Lanz and Whitey Hitchcock, we forayed in two groups on Friday afternoon – the group at the “junk yard” found a few morels, while the group that stayed in the park just had a pleasant walk alongside the lake and back through the woods, noting wild flowers as we went. On Saturday we had no more luck, but the woods were beautiful and the potluck was terrific as ever.

With no morels to distract us, we kept a record of other fungi we found which came to 14 species – about half of them fresh and the rest rather old polypores. Two of them were actually new finds for the club: the pretty Scarlet Cup fungus (Sarcoscypha austriaca) and a False Morel (Gyromitra sp – possibly G. gigas).


Barnardsville Foray
Date: April 16, 2013 / Leader: Jackie Schieb

Our annual morel foray was well attended by 25 members. A date was planned weeks in advance and then moved forward in the hopes that the ground would warm up enough for the morels to pop. The morels unfortunately didn't make much of an appearance. We found and identified many of the flowers and a few morels. Everyone's spirits continued to be high with the enjoyment of just being out in Nature on a beautiful day. There's always next year!

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Rise Up Rooted Edible Foray
Date: June 22, 2013 / Leaders: Ed Mayer, Sue Brown and Michael Gentry

The Rise Up Rooted Farm located on the Broad River along route 9 between Black Mountain and Bat Cave was the site of this enjoyable edible foray. The weather was beautiful and 22 club members attended. Our hosts, Michelle and Tom lead the group on a tour of the green houses where they grow micro greens and a variety of other unique vegetables. Following the tour the group took a leisurely walk around the perimeter of the property where everyone participated in pointing out various edible, medicinal, useful and invasive plants in a riverside habitat such as chufa grass, mugwort, yellowroot, spice bush, wine berry, black walnut, bittersweet, sassafras, and a host of other interesting finds.

Tom pointed out the damage from the recent flooding on the Broad River which cut through their vegetable and herb garden and talked about the work he was doing to rehabilitate the riparian zone. We had lunch under a big walnut tree which was a nice shady break from the heat of the day. After lunch, Michelle gave us a tour of the vegetable and herb garden and then we took a stroll upstream from their property to look at the native vegetation in a less disturbed forest environment.

After leaving the farm some of the group headed to the Light Center off Highway 9 toward Black Mountain to see if we could find any early summer shrooms. We enjoyed a nice walk but did not find anything.

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Dupont State Forest Foray
Date: July 26, 2013 / Leader: Ken McGill

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41 people met at Guion Farm to foray with Alan and Arleen Bessette. Also present was mushroom expert Jay Justice. We split into four groups to explore four different trails:
1. Tarklin Road led by Ginger Fisher
2. Flat to Shoal Creek Trail to Farmhouse Trail led by Charlotte Caplan
3. Hickory Mtn. Road to Rifle Trail led by Nancy Byer
4. Buck Forest Road to Thomas Cemetery Road led by Ken McGill

After about two hours, we gathered at the pavilion to examine and identify our finds and eat lunch. Contrary to scouting reports, there was quite a variety of fungi found causing some people to have to give up their lunch table for specimens to be displayed. In all, 96 species were identified thanks to the abundance of expertise present. Six of these species were new to club records. Surprisingly, few boletes were found compared to past years. Fortunately, a small group of AMC members and the Besettes decided to take a look at the Lake Imaging area after the foray and found some nice boletes for the workshop on the 27th. We all enjoyed a beautiful day in DuPont Forest and the interesting variety of fungi we found.


Bessettes Bolete and Dyeing Workshops
Date: July 27-28, 2013 / By: Jackie Schieb

Happily for the Asheville Mushroom Club Alan and Arleen Bessette came out of retirement and to Asheville for a 3 day event. Alan is a PhD mycologist and Emeritus Professor of Biology at Utica College of Syracuse University. He has authored or coauthored more than 20 mycology books.

The weekend started with a foray to Dupont Forest on Friday. Saturday Alan conducted a day loan Bolete Workshop attended by 28 members. Alan talked about the world of DNA analysis and the way it is turning the mushroom identification world upside down, and to keep the common names handy till the renaming process is complete (if ever). We were lead through the process of working through the excellent “identification keys” in the Bessette Bolete book to get to the species name. There are always new fungi being discovered and Alan is now in the process of working through the many steps to document a newly discovered species. Who knows maybe an AMC member will one day have a mushroom named after her/him.

Arleen Bessette is a mycologist, award winning botanical photographer, fabric and yarn dyeing with mushrooms expert, and finally an authority in the culinary aspects of mycophagy. She had authored or coauthored more than 15 books.

Arleen lead the group of 11 AMC members, 10 women and one brave man into the exciting world of dyeing fabric or yarn using fungi. One of the participants said “the dyeing workshop was an absolute blast, we had fun from the minute we walked through the door till leaving at 4 pm” All members dyed scarves after tying, twisting or rolling the scarf before placing in the die bath. Jackie Schieb (far right in group photo) even ended up with a mushroom design on the scarf, “of course I planned it that way” The day was such a fun adventure that many of the attendees have started gathering fungi to dehydrate and dye other items.

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Holmes Educational Forest Foray
Date: June 30, 2013 / Leader: Ginger Fisher

Approximately 45 AMC members gathered at Holmes Forest near Hendersonville, NC on June 30 for the AMC’s first summer foray of the 2013 mushroom season. After a late, wet spring, the woods were in good condition, with damp ground and plenty of new undergrowth. Scouting earlier in the week had revealed very few fungi, but daily rains and warm temperatures (low 80’s daytime) generated impressive new mushroom growth in time for the foray.

Ginger Fisher led the foray, ably assisted by Mike Hopping, Charlotte Caplan, Jackie Schieb, and Ken McGill. After splitting into four foray groups, members foraged on the Demonstration Trail, the Soil and Water Trail, the Talking Tree Trail, and the Crab Creek Trail. All groups found a variety of young mushrooms and the total number of species reached 51. A new mushroom, the Russula tenuiceps, was added to the AMC species list.

After collecting mushrooms for an hour and a half, the group met at the picnic area for lunch and identification of fungi. Charlotte Caplan, Mike Hopping and Jackie Schieb led the identification effort, and all members were encouraged to participate and learn about their finds. To celebrate the new summer season and encourage members to hone their foraging skills, a reward of dubious value and questionable taste was offered for “The Most Amazing Mushroom”. Sara Robledo took the prize with a large Berkeley’s Polypore, seen below.

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Pink Beds Foray
Date: July 20, 2013 / Leader: Amanda Lavallee

On July 20, we forayed at the Pink Beds in Pisgah National Forest. There were around 35 participants and we broke into two groups to search both sides of the loop trail. Just over an hour into our hike it started DUMPING rain, with loud lightning and thunder, and everyone hurried back to the pavilion! We were all soaked but otherwise just fine. In total we found 61 species, including 18 from our "Top 50 List". We also identified six species which were first time finds for the club. Thanks to Mike Hopping for making most of these new identifications. These included a hairy-topped tooth fungus, Hydnellum cristatum, the aptly named Orange Mock Oyster Phyllotopsis nidulans, and a smallish, brownish milk cap called Lactarius subserifluus, which we've probably collected many times but never been able to put a name to before.


Oconee State Park Foray
Date: September 20-22, 2013 / Leader: Charlotte Caplan

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AMC, the Mushroom Club of Georgia, and the SC Upstate Mushroom Club joined forces for the fifth time for a weekend foray at Oconee State Park near Walhalla, SC. Because of AMC’s commitment to FungiFest, MCG took the lead in organizing the foray. It was rather disappointing that of 90 participants only five were AMC members. Jay Justice was lead mycologist, ably assisted by two remarkable young men, Brian Looney and Joshua Birkebak, both graduate students working with Brandon Matheny at the University of TN in Knoxville. Charlotte Caplan acted as recorder.

Activities started on Friday afternoon with forays within the park on the Lake, Oconee, Chestnut, and Palmetto trails. In the evening Jay Justice gave us a talk about the species we have found at Oconee since 2008, emphasizing the enormous diversity – over 300 species identified – and highlighting some unusual species.

On Saturday, we roamed further with forays to Burrells Ford, Licklog Falls, Old Waterwheel Trail, Hidden Falls Trail, Yellow Branch Trail, and Isaqueena falls. And alternative activities were offered: a beginners identification workshop with Brian Looney and a microscopy workshop with MCG members Elliott Horner and Susan Harper. In the evening Joshua Birkebak talked about his research on coral fungi followed byan auction of mushroom-related and other contributions.

We finished the foray on Sunday morning with a tour of the tables led by Jay, Josh, and Brian.

The weather during the foray was dry and sunny on Friday, overcast on Saturday morning and rainy on Saturday afternoon. After record rain in the summer there had been a dry spell since late August. Soils were still quite moist but mushrooms were not obviously plentiful. Still we came back with a big variety and the final total was 185 species, shattering last year’s record. We added 70 new species to our list for Oconee, which now stands at 382 species and 32 of these were new to the AMC master list as well. We have Brian Looney to thank for identifying no less than 13 new Russula species some of which had probably been found before without making it off the pre-sort tables.

The most frequently collected species was Lactarius corrugis (Corrugated Milky), found at all ten locations, followed by Lactarius volemus (Apricot Milky), Amanita brunnescens (Cleft-foot Amanita) Russula variata (Variable Russula), and Suillus Pictus (Panted Bolete). Oddly, the previously ubiquitous Shaggy-stalked Bolete (Heimioporus betula) was nowhere to be seen while a new species, Ramaria obtusissima, seemed very common. Collecting at Oconee is never predictable! The most productive locations were Licklog Falls and Hidden Falls trails.


Foster Creek Foray
Date: July 31, 2013 / Leader: Rob Heck

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Seventeen club members braved an ominously dark morning to search Foster Creek for mycological delights. We broke up into two groups with one going east from the parking lot into the pines and the other taking the trail north along Foster Creek. A light drizzle fell about half way into the foray but proved insufficient to turn anyone back. Foster Creek stayed true to its reputation and rewarded our perseverance with a wide range of edibles including chanterelles, cauliflowers, milky caps, and lobsters.

As the groups co-mingled back at the parking lot word got around that a giant patch of chanterelles was out there somewhere. About half the attendees went off again to locate this supposed giant patch. Problem is no one seemed to recall the exact location. After about 30 minutes of fruitless searching and a few “it’s just over here... oh wait where is it again?” the chanterelle patch was finally re-discovered. Everyone who chased the goose went home with at least a basketful of very large specimens.

A handful of members continued on to Charlotte’s, who graciously hosted an identification after-party at her home due to the inclement weather. 74 species were identified, nowhere near the 150+ record Foster Creek produced last summer. However, four species new to the club were found.

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Walnut Creek Preserve
Date: July 2, 2013 / Leaders: Ed Mayer, Sue Brown

The foray at Walnut Creek Preserve located between Lake Lure and Tryon was a pop-up foray at new site for the club and a first trial of the online registration process developed by the club’s Webmaster. It was a cloudy day with a forecast for rain but 13 club members ventured out for a chance to explore a lower elevation site potentially find some early Chanterelles. The club was hosted by Bob and Babs Strickland who own the 2000 acre track of former timber land. The property is now being developed as an Equestrian Community with a conservation easement and over 50 miles of trails.

We were surprised to be joined by Todd Elliot, who was just returning from Guyana, and his parents Doug and Yana on their way home from picking Todd up at the airport. Early this year Todd suggested Walnut Creek as a potential club foray site. The group split following different sides of Walnut Creek and eventually met before heading back to the property’s nature center to have lunch and identify the day’s finds. Unfortunately, on the climb back to the center the sky opened up in downpour which drenched the team. In all 31 species were identified, including a few edibles. The only chanterelles were found by Todd who ran back to the car to grab his camera to photograpg a box turtle eating a milk cap. He lost his way and ended up in a sizable Chanterelle patch. Despite the rain, everyone enjoyed the day.


Purchase Knob Weekend Foray
Date: August 9-11, 2013 / Leader: Charlotte Caplan

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What a wonderful place! Eighteen lucky members spent the weekend at the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center – aka Purchase Knob – a 500 acre property adjoining the Great Smoky Mountains NP which was donated to the National Park Service in 2000 and is used as an educational & research center. Ten of us slept in the house, the rest in tents on platforms in the woods just outside the house. Six more members joined us just for the day on Saturday.

On Friday we forayed along the Ferguson cabin loop, a two mile trail that passes an historic log farmhouse and on Saturday we split into two parties and explored the Cataloochee Divide Trail that runs roughly north/south near the Center. At 5000 ft in the middle of the wettest summer on record we expected to find some interesting species and we were not disappointed. With invaluable help from mycologists Jay Justice and Coleman McCleneghan we recorded 122 species including 11 that are apparently new to the ATBI – the Great Smokies All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory – an ongoing effort to record all forms of life in the Park.

On Friday night, Jay Justice gave us a short talk on the Cantherellaceae – the Chanterelle family – and recent taxonomic changes. Apparently our favorite Golden Chanterelle is not Cantharellus cibarius – that’s a European species – but is probably a complex of species that have yet to be disentangled. Meanwhile we'll just call it "Cantharellus cibarius" (in quotes) and go on eating it.

On Saturday we dined sumptuously on potluck dishes and then sat or lay on the deck while Nancy Byer pointed out prominent stars and constellations and we saw numerous meteors and man-made satellites. The light-pollution there is so low that we were able to clearly see the glow from the gills of two common bio-luminescent fungi: Panellus stipticus and Omphalotus illudens (Jack O’Lantern). One in the eye for Michael Kuo, who claims that reports of this phenomenon are all hoaxes!

Did I mention the views from the house? Spectacular!

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Turkey Pen Foray
Date: August 13, 2013 / Leader: Ginger Fisher

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Sixteen AMC members and 2 dogs joined foray leader Greg Carter at Turkey Pen in Pisgah National Forest, near Mills River, NC. The weather was wet much of the morning and the trails were muddy after days of rain, but the foragers gamely split into three groups to explore different trails. The trails included mixed forest trees, fern and rhododendron patches, and riverside and rocky hillside terrains.

Sixty two species of fungi were collected and identified by a committee of club members including Mike Hopping, Jackie Schieb, Renate Rohman, Ginger Fisher and others. Amanita and Lactarius made up the greatest proportion of species found, but a good number of Suillus pictus and Cantharellus cinnabarinus were collected for kitchen use. A smaller number of Boletes were found than in past forays in this area. We found one new record for the club: Lactarius fumosus, a smoky brown milk cap. It's probably one we have collected before, but this time we found a name for it. A rarer find was Podoscypha aculeata, a coral-like polypore which we met for the first time at Purchase Knob the previous weekend.

After the foray, the participants enjoyed their lunches at Greg’s house. Greg gave a tour of his fungi cultivation operation and home-made outdoor baking oven, and everyone enjoyed the day in spite of the intermittent rain.


Wash Creek (1) Foray
Date: August 17, 2013 / Leader: Mike Hopping

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For once, this sodden summer, we caught a break in the weather for a day in Wash Creek. Fourteen club members, new and old, weren’t felled by last minute illness or misadventure and made the trip. They were rewarded with modest amounts of edibles and a very nice variety of species. As elsewhere this season, boletes were in relatively short supply.

It was great to see a new generation of members take an active hand in the species identification process. Between the lot of us, we named about a hundred species and people in the mood to test the kitchen qualities of unfamiliar species took some home.


Wash Creek (2) Foray
Date: September 11, 2013 / Leader: Mike Hopping

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The AMC foray season ended on a fine note with a mid-week return to Wash Creek. Fifteen club members, accompanied by club speaker Anna McHugh and her mother, enjoyed a sunny morning and plentiful fungi. In all, Caplan and Co. identified ninety-three species.

Edibles included Lactarius volemus and hygrophoroides, some massive aborted entolomas, hedgehogs, a comb coral and AMC first records for Pleurotus dryinus (the ringed oyster) and Craterellus odoratus, (a delightfully yellow, branching, and distinctly stinking specimen of the so-called “fragrant chanterelle”).

We added six species to the club “life list.” The Bessettes’ Tricholomas of North America made it possible to identify three yellowish trichs. Charlotte got down and dirty with a Suillus that keyed to Suillus subaureus. A wooly Lactarius, which initially stained the mushroom’s cut flesh pink instead of purple, turned out to be a North Carolina specialty, Lactarius subtorminosus. And then there was Lasiosphaeria orina, a schmutz so arcane that Google scarcely recognizes it, but Charlotte did. Genus Lasiosphaeria was blessed by Fuckel, a famous nineteenth century German namer of obscure species.

An interesting side note on Fuckel’s legacy. His name comes down to us as a common epithet. According to the Urban Dictionary: fuckel (n)
1) something worth so little you don’t give a f#%* about it
2) a value less than two sh&ts

Let Fuckel’s humbling example join that of English plumber Thomas Crapper as a caution about the potential consequences of excessively odd obsessions. Until next spring, happy hunting.