Cosby Foray: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Date: April 5, 2012 / Leader: Mike Hopping

After an unusually warm and pleasantly wet winter, eighteen club members kicked off the foray season with a morel hunt in new territory, worthy of coverage in National Geographic. It had rained the night before and afternoon storms were in the forecast. As elsewhere this year, spring appeared to be weeks ahead of schedule. The wildflowers were in riot. We noted multiple trillium species, most notably yellow trillium. Violets, foam flower, wild geranium, showy orchids, and dogwood were also prominent.

Two hours of foraying yielded a modest amount of morels. The majority were a small, tubular variety with a medium brown cap and non-blackening, sparse, vertically arranged ridges. For want of a better name they’ll be classed as deliciosa here. We also found typical yellows and one miniscule excuse for a black morel.

Morchella smiled on several morel virgins, including AMC Program Chairman, Steve Martin. Gentleman that he is, he declined to provide details. Young Dryad Saddle was also available. Some went into baskets.

Rain began falling at the end of lunch. We pulled out as storms moved in.

Asheville Mushroom Club species noted on the Cosby foray
Scientific nameCommon name
Ganoderma tsugae Hemlock Varnish Shelf
Lenzites betulina Gilled Polypore
Megacollybia rodmani Platterful Mushroom
"Morchella esculenta" * Yellow Morel
"Morchella deliciosa" *(?) Deliciosa Morel
"Morchella augusticeps" * Black Morel
Peziza badioconfusa Common Brown Cup
Pluteus cervinus Fawn Mushroom
Polyporus squamosus Dryad Saddle
Psathyrella velutina Weeping Widow / Velvety Psathyrella
Trametes versicolor Turkey Tail
Trichaptum biforme Violet toothed Polypore--last season
* See for discussion on taxonomy of North American Morels
  • Forayers
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Big Ridge Foray
Date: April 13-15, 2012 / Leader: Charlotte Caplan

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The worst was that the 32 members attending the annual George Lanz Morel Foray at Big Ridge State Park found exactly 50 morels over the entire weekend. The cut-off stumps of some Morchella crassipes (Giant Yellow Morels) bore mute witness to the freakishly warm spring weather which had made us at least two weeks too late for most of the morels.

But we had the best of times! Knowing that collecting would likely be thin, we set ourselves a leisurely schedule, with one foray on Friday afternoon and only one on Saturday – starting at 10:00 PM. This proved much more enjoyable than rushing from one location to another and gave us plenty of time to get ready for our potluck dinner – one of the best ever, I think. We ate and drank overlooking the lake while Barry & Jacques entertained us with traditional tunes on the fiddle and banjo. It was an idyllic evening with a great group of people.

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  • Group Photo
  • Lunch

Foray near Barnardsville
Date: April 19, 2012 / Leader: Jackie Schieb

The Barnardsville April 19th, 2012 was an unexpected success. With the unseasonably warm winter the morel season came quite a bit earlier than usual, so it seemed that the 19th was going to be too late to find morels. We began searching at elevations starting at approximately 3400 ft. Shortly into the day we started find morels, with a total of 75 found between the 13 attending members. There was also an abundance of beautiful wildflowers and plants to ID. With the assistance of Steve Peek and other members we sampled quite a few edible plants.

Besides the morels we collected and identified two polypores:
Fomes fomentarius - Hoof Fungus; Tinder Polypore
Trametes elegans

Edible Greens Foray at Flying Cloud Farm
Date: May 12, 2012 / Leader: Stacie Litsenberger

The Green's Foray at Flying Cloud Farm on 12 May 2012 was very successful. We had a total of 28 folks show up.

I did the recon of the farm on Friday. Dr. Hamilton, the father of Annie, was out and about that day. So he and a friend joined us for the foray on Saturday. He was wonderful during the exploring as he led us to different areas on the farm and was so giving. He made a great quote at the end of the day to Terri "Now I know what is on my land"!

We started Saturday on time, plenty of parking and the weather held out for us - as it looked to rain. We split into two groups and met at the picnic tables as the groups completed their finds for lunch.

Steve and Terri were well enjoyed by all attendees. They answered each question and were informative as to what to look for in the wild, ways to experiment, and how to use guide books. Plenty was learned within the groups as well.

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Chimney Rock Foray
Date: June 24, 2012 / Leader: Charlotte Caplan

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Twenty members took part in the first summer foray of 2012. We met at the meadow picnic shelter at Chimney Rock State Park at 10:00 AM and split into two groups, each led by a park staff member. One group set off on the easy loop trail: ''Great Woodland Adventure Trail'' and the other tackled the more challenging ''Four Seasons Trail''. Conditions were warm and dry - we still don't seem to have hit the park at its best - and we had to hunt for specimens. We were lucky to spot two curled-up copperheads close to the Four Seasons trail before anyone stepped on them.

After eating lunch in the picnic shelter, we rode in the Park's shuttle bus up to up to the top of the park where the park staff had provided tables under a tent. With Coleman in charge of identification and several members helping, we set up a display for fascinated park visitors. Michelle Meija set up an activity table for children. At 4:00 PM we cleared up and set off back down the mountain.

We had 37 species on display, compared with 41 last year.

Slideshow photos courtesy of Chi-Sing Chang:
  • Ganoderma Tsugae
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  • Leccinum Snellii
  • Setting Off
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Wash Creek Foray
Date: July 12, 2012 / Leader: Mike Hopping

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Into the mists... After two dry and exceptionally hot weeks, the skies opened and dumped inches of rain on the day before the Wash Creek foray. Drizzle and murky conditions persisted throughout the expedition but didn't deter a water-resistant seventeen AMC troopers, App. State mycologist Coleman McCleneghan, two of her grad students, guest MushroomExpert Michael Kuo and his sharp-eyed partner Melissa Bochte.

The group split into three and sampled a variety of ecological communities including mature white pine, mixed hardwood, mountain laurel, bottomland and roadside areas. The most productive area was probably the primitive campsites along the North Mills River. Although the after-effects of two weeks on hell's doorstep remained, we managed to collect and identify about forty species, four of them new records for the club. Another species that found its way on to the table was Agaricus splaticus, an oozing mass of sordid red. Sadly this variety is not uncommon in our area. We also saw a small, top-shaped something-or-other with pores on top of a flat chocolate-brown cap, which may represent the wild ancestral form of the common Hershey's Kiss.

Slideshow photos courtesy of Chi-Sing Chang:
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Cades Cove Foray
Date: July 13-15, 2012 / Leader: Whitey Hitchcock

This was our first foray to Cades Cove - one of the most visited areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park - and it proved memorable in various ways, not all of them good. Originally Whitey had planned a foray at Oak Ridge, but the Dept of Energy had other ideas so we settled on Cades Cove, another of Whitey's favorite collecting areas for edibles.

Seven members set up camp on Friday afternoon. Nice large shaded sites; useful campground shop for everything you forgot to bring; more bathrooms would have been nice. Conditions were very moist, just one week after a devastating storm had temporarily closed the area. However, mushrooms were not very numerous. Saturday morning forays around the campground and horse trails produced a few chanterelles and a spectacular fruiting of the Black-staining Polypore, Meripulus sumstinei (considered edible, but tough).

At lunchtime we were joined by another seven members and that's when things turned nasty. Jillian Wolf and Diane Bauknight were setting up their tent when Jill fell over and hit the ground with all her weight on her left wrist. She was in great pain with an obviously broken arm. Thank goodness a team of park rangers was there in minutes and put Jill's arm in a splint with the greatest care and gentleness. Soon she was sitting up and asking: "Can Charlotte identify that mushroom we found on the way in?" She was whisked off in an ambulance to Knoxville for surgery, with Diane following. Diane brought her back to Asheville on Sunday and she is doing well - in fact she came on the Aug 4 foray to Dupont State Forest.

It was a subdued group that returned to foraying on Saturday afternoon. Michelle and Mark found a splendid Chicken of the Woods which was incorporated into an excellent dinner that night (how many other clubs' potlucks feature Peking roast duck?) On Sunday morning we drove around the Cades Cove loop, stopping to foray in areas recommended by Whitey and to view the historic homesites. The valley floor is still mainly open meadowland, but only deer and bears roam there now.

We didn't keep a species list, as this was intended to be an edibles foray. Probably the most interesting non-edible we saw was the little Veiled polypore, Cryptoporus volvatus. Whitey posted photos of this and more in an album titled "Cades Cove" on the AMC Yahoo site.

Photos courtesy of Chi-Sing Chang:

Florence Preserve Foray
Date: July 21, 2012 / Leaders: Sue Brown & Ed Mayer

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This is the second year the club forayed at the Florence Preserve. Nineteen club members participated along with two staff members of the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) including the conservancy's Executive Director, Kieran Roe. Although 68 species were identified, there was not the abundance of edibles that were found in 2011.

The trails selected for the foray were located at the upper end of the preserve which is accessed through a gated locked road. These trails were selected because the terrain was gentle, with more open areas to foray than the steep lower portions of the preserve. The group forayed from 10AM until shortly after noon. It was a beautiful, warm summer day with only a threat of a thunder storm around noon. Luckily the rain did not start in earnest until we were comfortably enjoying lunch at a picnic pavilion that the club was graciously allowed to use by the Chestnut Hill Community.

Of the 67 species identified, 2 have not been seen on a club foray since 2005 and 4 others are new to the list. Overall it was an enjoyable day for all.

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Cosby Camping Foray (GSMNP)
Date: July 27, 2012 / Leaders: Sue Brown & Ed Mayer

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This was the club's first camping foray at Cosby, Tenn. in GSMNP. There were 26 people on the foray (18 campers in 9 tents plus 8 day-trippers). We had booked all three group camp sites giving us plenty of space. The weather had been dry until a week before the foray so there was not an abundance of mushrooms. In total 80 species were identified, by our two mycologists, Coleman McCleneghan and Jay Justice.

Saturday morning club members divided into two groups to foray the trails surrounding the camp ground. One group did not get too far before encountering a black bear and her cub who did not seem interested in moving away to let the group continue. They returned to the campground to foray where three men, two rattlesnakes and a cooler provided a humorous interlude to the interrupted foray by trying to corral the snakes into the cooler and out of harm's way.

In the afternoon a small group of club members forayed along a trail to the waterfall which proved more productive than the morning trails. The walk to the waterfall was a pleasant two mile hike. The rest of the group relaxed and continued foraying around the campground which also proved productive. In the evening the campers shared a potluck meal which included some of the day's finds. After dinner the mycologists led the table walk over wine and beer.

Among our finds were 7 species that were new to the club's records, including Amanita borealisorora Tulloss nom. prov. (Northern Sister Ringless Amanita) a familiar mushroom formerly identified with the European species "Amanita ceciliae", but now known to be a distinct species (we're not sure if this really counts as a new record for us, but those who care about taxonomy should make a note. The name is still provisional, but likely to stick).

The campground was nice, relatively empty and quiet, and everyone enjoyed the weekend. Definitely a place to visit again.

Dupont State Forest Foray
Date: August 4, 2012 / Leaders: Ken McGill

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30 people met at the Guion Farm parking area at 10:00 AM. AMC members were joined by mycologist Dr Andy Methven and several of his students from the Highlands Biological Station, where he was teaching a two-week course. We split into groups to explore three routes:

1. Tarklin Road Trail
2. Flatwoods Trail to Shoal Creek Trail to Farmhouse Trail
3. Hickory Mountain Road to White Pine Loop to Poplar Trail to Rifle Trail then back up the road to Guion Farm.

The day was fair, but rain had evidently fallen the night before and conditions were pretty soggy. But who cares about wet feet if there are mushrooms, and there were - a lot of them.

After a couple of hours we met back at the picnic shelter to unload our finds and eat lunch. There was scarcely enough space on the tables for both activities. When the identification phase was complete, Andy gave us a fascinating and witty overview of our finds, with special emphasis on the coral mushrooms - a family we usually find hard to identify. We had ten of them on the table (eleven if you count the white false coral, Tremellodendron pallidum, which Andy pointed out actually belongs with the jelly fungi). Andy even identified a mold, Helminthosphaeria clavariorum, which grows only on coral fungi.

Our total count was an amazing 99 species, a club record for a day foray (which stood for exactly 4 days until the spectacular Foster Creek Foray on Aug 8). Nine of these species were first-time records for the club, including three corals in the genus Ramaria, Boletus alutaceous - a new find for Andy as well - and a cool lichen, Dibaeis baeomyces, with tiny pink fruiting structures.

Turkey Pen Foray
Date: August 7, 2012 / Leaders: Greg Carter and Charlotte Caplan

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This was the first of two forays on consecutive days with visiting mycologists Alan and Arleen Bessette. We took advantage of some recent road improvements to return to Turkey Pen for the first time in several years. Twenty-nine people met at the trailhead where it was immediately clear that collecting conditions were ideal, though rain threatened. The very first mushroom collected, while we were still waiting for everyone to arrive, was promptly identified by Alan as Boletus roseopurpureus, a new species for the club's records.

Under Greg's direction, we formed three groups to foray in various directions and all returned with full baskets of both edibles and specimens for identification. Milk Caps were particularly abundant and many pounds of the edible Apricot and Corrugated Milkies were collected.

We then left the trailhead and drove to Greg's home, Deep Woods Farm, where we set up our tables, unloaded our specimens, and cooked mushroom-loaded pizzas in Greg's splendid outdoor oven. Some of us also took a guided tour through Greg's impressive mushroom farming operation. Just as the last pizza came out of the oven, down came the rain. In the rush to get under cover we skipped the usual walk around the tables, but Alan and Arleen had worked on ID's through lunch and we ended up with 92 species, nine of them first records for the club, including the above-mentioned Boletus roseopurpureus, the strange brain-like jelly, Tremella encephala, and Steve Peek's favorite find: Boletus fagicola.

Photos courtesy of Chi-Sing Chang:

Fosters Creek Foray
Date: August 8, 2012 / Leader: Mike Hopping

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Fosters Creek is a patchwork of forest types. Mature stands of white pine or mixed hardwoods alternate with second growth where white pine saplings or poplars dominate. Sadly, more of the mature timber is to be logged in 2013, so the wealth of species recorded for this year's foray may not be duplicated for a long time to come.

Foray conditions were ideal. The ground was damp but the day--for a change--was dry. The woods were full of mushrooms. Eleven club members had the privilege of having Alan and Arleen Bessette along for the second day in a row. The Bessettes are authors of numerous field guides and other mycological works. As at Turkey Pens on the previous day, they went at it with an enthusiasm equal to our own.

Baskets returned to the rendezvous point loaded down. Those seeking edibles found Lactarius volemus & corrugis, Sparassis crispa & spathulata, multiple forms of chanterelle and a smattering of other goodies. Members in need of a day off from processing edibles at home brought in ridiculous numbers of specimens for identification. One member had so many kinds heaped together in bags that Arleen Bessette accused him, correctly, of having no shame. (In my defense, Leucocoprinus fragilissimus broke before it got into the bag. The others, mini and maxi alike, arrived intact.)

Alan Bessette treated us to an amazing identification session. Instead of writing names on plates he gave us the names aloud, adding differential characteristics of the species in question. AMC president, Charlotte Caplan, acted as scribe. Dr. Bessette made it through two jam-packed tables of specimens and another group of plates on the ground, not stopping until he'd had a crack at everything. Only a dozen or so remained unnamed at species level when we left Foster Creek at 2:30. Complete or partial IDs were provided for 129 species. Twenty-three were new to the Club's species list. Both of these numbers are all-time club records for a one-day foray!

Photos courtesy of Chi-Sing Chang:
Photos courtesy of Arleen Bessette:
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  • Alan Bessette IDs Mushroom 123

Purchase Knob Foray
Date: August 18, 2012 / Leaders: David and Melody Dickson

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After meeting at the Exxon station in Jonathan Creek near Maggie Valley, the club caravan of 18 participants traveled up the mountain on Hemphill Road. Eventually Hemphill turned into Purchase Road just outside the Purchase Knob entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Park staff were not on-site, however they generously provided the club with lock information so we were able to open the gate and have exclusive use of the facilities at the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center - a very comfortable meeting room and indoor restrooms. This was the second consecutive year the Park has accommodated the club.

Weather the preceding couple of weeks had been very favorable for mushroom production. The Maggie Valley area had experienced significant rainfall virtually every day for a couple of weeks. Luckily there was no rain on foray day. Temperatures were very mild; even cool in the early morning. As we ascended to the knob we entered clouds. The temperatures and clouds made foraying very comfortable. By the time the three separate foray groups returned to the learning center the clouds had moved on and exposed the incredible view from the top of the mountain. In all, five Park trails were explored: Ferguson Cabin, Gilmore, McNeill, Cataloochee Connector and Cataloochee Divide. All trails were easily accessed directly from the learning center.

We collected a very large variety of mushrooms and were able to identify 84 separate species - a club record for a foray without a professional mycologist to help us. Our identification skills are definitely improving! Eight species were new records for the club, including a fine fruiting of Craterellus cinereus - a relative of the Black Trumpet but with a more flaring top and a network of ridges on the underside. The high elevation, around 4500 ft, may account for the number of unfamiliar species.

Laccaria ochropurpurea, one of the most abundant mushrooms found this foray.
  • Laccaria Ochropurpurea

Foray near Old Fort
Date: September 8, 2012 / Leaders: Ed Mayer & Sue Brown

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Longtime AMC member Jim Goldsmith had invited the club to foray on his property south of Old Fort. Asheville club members met at the Swannanoa Ingles to carpool and met up with club members from other parts of the region in Old Fort and formed a long caravan to Jim's house. The 26 participants split into two groups. One group started from the house and forayed along the ridge and the hillside below the house. The other group got back into their cars and drove a short distance to foray on the other side of the road. Both areas were dominated by mixed hardwood forest at about 1600 ft of elevation.

There was still adequate moisture from August's rains and as soon as we stepped into the woods we came across a colony of Red-gilled Corts (Cortinarius semisanguineus), which is an excellent species for dyeing. We returned to our picnic on a knoll above the house with more mushrooms than we could display on our two tables. Jim drove his truck over and we used the bed and tailgate as additional display space.

Faced with this fungal cornucopia, we sweated over identification for a couple of hours, while an approaching thunderstorm rumbled across the valley. The final tally was 80 species - a club record for a foray without a professional mycologist to help with identifications. It was a varied collection, including 24 of the "Top 50", with a particularly large number of "tooth" fungi: the genera Hydnum, Hydnellum, Sarcodon, and Hericium were all represented. Several of these are good for dyeing and were taken back to be dried, along with a number of edibles: Chanterelles, Black Trumpets, Beefsteak, Oysters, Apricot Milkies and others.

Notable non-edibles were the Red-Gilled Cort (Cortinarius semisanguineus), the rare and distinctive Blue-bruising Amanita (A. pelioma) and the Bleeding Tooth (Hydnellum peckii).

Amanita pelioma, showing the faint blue staining at the base. Milk-coffee-colored gills are another feature of this unusual Amanita. Warning: No images in specified directory. Please check the directoy!

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Foray at Oconee State Park
Date: September 14-16, 2012 / Leader: Jay Justice

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AMC, the Mushroom Club of Georgia, the SC Upstate Mushroom Club, and the Cumberland Mycological Society joined forces for the fourth (almost annual) weekend foray to Oconee State Park near Walhalla, SC. We had a record 90 attendees and, as well as the rooms and kitchen adjoining the park office, we had reserved the Barn which provided ample space for the mushroom display and a lecture area. Jay Justice was our lead mycologist, with help from Julia Kerrigan and Steve Roberts. Charlotte Caplan recorded our finds.

Activities started on Friday afternoon with forays within the park on the Chestnut, Lake, Oconee and Palmetto trails. In the evening Jay Justice gave us a talk entitled "Not your Granny's Chanties" in which he roamed over the Chanterelle family, emphasizing recent taxonomic changes - "Cantharellus cibarius" is no longer considered an appropriate name for our beloved Golden Chanterelle, but Jay couldn't tell us yet what we should be calling it!

On Saturday, we roamed further with four morning and three afternoon forays to: Burrells Ford, Licklog Falls, Old Waterwheel Trail, Hidden Falls Trail (a new route for us), Walhalla Fish Hatchery, Yellow Branch Trail, and Isaqueena falls. The evening was packed with activities - after a fine potluck dinner, Taylor Lockwood described his journeys in China searching for the elusive "Holey Grail" (a rare stinkhorn with a beautiful lacy golden skirt), illustrating his talk with some of his fabulous photographs. And then we held an auction of mushroom-related and other contributions. We finished the foray on Sunday morning with a tour of the tables led by Jay

The weather during the foray was dry and pleasantly mild. The previous few weeks had been fairly dry and mushrooms did not seem as plentiful as on some of our previous visits (of course the park staff told us how they had been fruiting everywhere in August!). But we still came back with a wide variety of specimens and the final total came to 154 species - the longest list yet. Having more people and more forays surely helped. The most productive location turned out to be Hidden Falls Trail just north of the park - a new foray area for us.

Jay sent us the following notes on our collections:

"Out of the 154 identified species this year, 17 were members of the genus Amanita, 31 were Boletes, and 30 were classified as Polypores. 71, almost half, were collected at only one location, and one mushroom, Lactarius corrugis was collected at 11 of the 12 locations. 42 species had not been reported at Oconee before [11 of these were also first records for AMC].

Showy or interesting mushrooms, in my opinion, from this year's foray include:

(1) Amanita wellsii - Rod Tulloss had reported collecting it in the Smokies, but this was the first year we collected it at Oconee
(2) Albatrellus ellisii, this was the first time I remember ever seeing this mushroom and certainly, the first time it was collected at Oconee
(3) Sutorius eximius, formerly known as Tylopilus eximius, since it was always a Tylopilus that looked different from most of the other members of that genus, now it is in its own genus where it belongs - I have seen it several times at forays in the North East area, collected it once in Arkansas and once near Bryson City, NC, but this was the first time it was collected at Oconee.
(4) Terana caerulea, aka "Velvet Blue Spread" crust fungus, is listed as being common in the southern Appalachians, but this was the first year it was collected at Oconee.

In the four years (2008, 2009, 2010, 2012) of collecting at Oconee and nearby areas we have found a total of 284 macrofungi: 266 Basidiomycetes and 18 Ascomycetes. 155 of these have only been collected in one year, 69 have been collected twice, 48 have been collected 3 of the 4 years we had the foray, and only 12 have been collected every year (4) that the foray was held.

Foray at Camp Rockmont (Lake Eden)
Date: September 29, 2012 / Leader: Charlotte Caplan

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After some last minute cancellations, 16 members met outside the Swannaoa Ingles and drove the short distance to Camp Rockmont, where we parked on the edge of the field above the cabins. We decided to stay in one group and took a trail from the top of the field running approximately SW, first climbing a bit then descending to the large field alongside Lake Eden Road and back up through the cabins to our parking area. A short walk from there took us to a pleasant picnic site to have lunch and display our finds.

Mushrooms were not particularly plentiful, but we collected a respectable number and identified 36 species, including some typical fall mushrooms such as the Citron Amanita (Amanita citrina) and the Booted Tricholoma or Eastern Matsutake (Tricholoma caligatum). We actually found three species not previously recorded on an AMC foray, including the poisonous Yellow-stainer (Agaricus xanthoderma), a fairly common species which turned up on mulch at the edge of the woods. But the best find of the day was a Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) and a White Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus Cincinnatus) growing on the same stump!

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