Big Ridge Foray
Date: April 8-10, 2011 / Leaders: George Lanz and Whitey Hitchcock

The 18th annual George Lanz morel foray at Big Ridge State Park featured warm spring sunshine, some strenuous hiking, and a pretty good haul of morels. It may be age or imagination, but the Tennessee hills seem to be getting steeper!

Spring was early this year, and so were the morels, but there were still plenty left for the 27 people who took part (26 AMC Members and Sam Landes from the Georgia Mushroom Club). George Lanz and Whitey Hitchcock led us on three forays between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. We found 571 morels on Friday and then stopped counting, but the grand total must have been over 1000 – about twice as many as in 2009. As usual, black morels predominated but yellows, Deliciosas (also called greys or whites), and half-frees also turned up.

On Friday evening, Charlotte Caplan reprised her presentation of the “Top 50 Mushrooms of North Carolina” (actually 51, but who’s counting?), using the club’s newly-acquired multimedia projector. Most of the audience seemed to stay awake. On Saturday night we had a splendid potluck dinner. As usual, George’s superb pizza disappeared faster than the eye could follow.

(The use of common names rather than scientific names is deliberate – most of the scientific names we have been using for Morchella taxa belong to European species which have been shown by DNA analysis to be different from the American species, but new scientific names for our morels have yet to be developed. For a frank and entertaining discussion of the current taxonomic muddle, see: Kuo, M. (2008, November).

Identifying morels with morphology. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site:

  • Black morel
  • Deliciosa morel
  • Half-free morel
  • Yellow morel

Other Fungi
  • Entoloma vernum (Early Spring Entoloma)
  • Peziza badioconfusa (Common Brown Cup)
  • Polyporus mori (Hexagonal-pored polypore)
  • Polyporus squamosus (Dryad’s saddle)
  • Urnula craterium (Devil’s Urn) – very widespread this year.

Photographs by Rob Russell

  • Black Morels
  • Cabin
  • Charlotte
  • Delicious Food
  • Eatingmorels
  • Flowers
  • Foundone
  • Gathering
  • Group
  • Halffreemorel
  • Hanging Out
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  • Mary
  • Men Portrait
  • Morels
  • Picking
  • Polypore
  • Posing
  • Rich
  • Rich Ken Whitey
  • Talking
  • Toasting
  • Turtle
  • Yellow Trillium

Dupont Forest - Lake Imaging Foray
Date: June 25, 2011 / Leader: Ginger Fisher

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Thirty six people and two intrepid dogs met in Dupont Forest Area at 10:00 AM to try their luck at finding mushrooms on the club’s first general foray of the season. Mycologist Jay Justice joined the group to help find and identify species.

Three groups headed out on the Ridgeline Trail (leader: Jackie Schieb), the Jim Branch Trail (leader: Charlotte Caplan), and the Holly Road Trail (leader: Ginger Fisher). All trails included mixed forest environments. The ground was moist after several recent rains, and the temperature ranged from the high 70’s to low 80’s. As this was the beginning of the mushroom season in this area, we weren’t sure how many species we would find.

Approximately 12 new members were in attendance, so the Holly Road Trail was designated an “Introduction to Foraying” trail. This enthusiastic and sharp-eyed group learned to spot, collect, bag, and look for identifying features of the mushrooms they found.

After about two hours of foraging, all groups returned to the Lake Imaging Picnic Area for lunch and identification. A surprising variety of species were collected, and Jay Justice and Charlotte Caplan, ably assisted by several others, were able to identify 69 species. Special finds included Boletus mahogonicolor Bessette, a recently described species previously reported only in Mississippi. Jay Justice has yet to confirm the identification.

Jay also informed us that the handsome rose-red and yellow boletes we have consistently identified as Boletus bicolor (and eaten) is almost certainly not B. bicolor (wrong smell, wrong reactions to reagents), but we couldn’t reach any other Identification. At least it isn’t the poisonous B. sensibilis.

During lunch, the group presented Jay Justice with a retirement present of two preserved mushrooms, crafted by Jackie Schieb, for his famous foray hat. Everyone enjoyed seeing old friends and making new friends as we ate lunch and reviewed the wide variety of fungi that covered the tables. We agreed that if the rains continue, this looks like the beginning of a good mushroom season.

Fosters Creek Foray
Date: July 9, 2011 / Leader: Arnie Cremer

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Seventeen AMC members, a guest from the Mushroom Club of Georgia, and a dog met at the Mills River Food Lion Plaza and car-pooled to the Fosters Creek trailhead. 

We split into groups and forayed in three different directions for about 2 hours. The weather was warm and humid with plenty of moisture in the ground.  A good variety of fungi was collected but there were relatively few boletes and less edibles than we found when we visited this location last August. The lack of a large quantity of edibles did not seem to dampen the group's enthusiasm. 

After a quick lunch, Charlotte Caplan and Tom Bodnar set about identifying our collections, which covered three tables.  Charlotte then led a quick tour of the tables emphasizing the differences between similar species, such as the Apricot  Milky (Lactarius volemus) and Peck's Milky (L. peckii), and the three common species of Suillus. Everyone admired a beautiful specimen of the Indigo Milky (L. Indigo). 

We were able to identify 59 species, listed below, including one new to AMC records: the aptly-named Rabbit Ears (Wynnea americana) an ascomycete belonging to the Cup Fungus family. 

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  • Amanitacesarea
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  • Charlotte
  • Cort
  • Doglet

Silver Run Preserve Foray
Date: July 16, 2011 / Leader: Stu Syms

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Eleven people met in The Silver Run Preserve near Cashiers, NC at 10:00 AM to try their luck at finding mushrooms on the club’s first foray on this property. We were joined by Mike and Sue Kettles of the Nature Conservancy.

We forayed for a little over a mile along the main trail, staying together in the rain to explore this new terrain of mixed forest, and quickly began finding many varieties of fungi. The most impressive find was a large group of Jack O’ Lantern mushrooms surrounding a dead tree.

After about two hours of foraging, and finding Black Trumpets, Oyster mushrooms, Chanterelles and an unusually early fruiting of Honey Mushrooms, among many others, we returned to our starting point for lunch and identification. The rain had fortunately stopped. We were able to identify 69 species, four of which were recorded for the first time by the club: Leocarpus fragilis – a tiny stalked slime mold growing along a twig; Stalked Scarlet Cup (Sarcoscypha occidentalis) a small cup fungus on wood; and two small bluish Entolomas – the Blue-toothed Entoloma (E. serrulatum) and the Violet Entoloma (E. violaceum).

A good foray was enjoyed by all and we look forward to returning to The Silver Run Preserve in the future, though the very limited parking space will only allow a small group at one time.

  • Bolete
  • Hotlips
  • Jackolantern
  • Jackolantern2

Florence Preserve Foray
Date: July 23, 2011 / Leaders: Sue Brown & Ed Mayer

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This is a new foray site for the club and proved to be a productive location where nearly 70 species were identified and most of the 21 participants went home with smiling faces and edible mushrooms. Three staff members of the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) joined the 18 club members.

The trails selected for the foray were the Blue, Red and White trails 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 weather cooperated by providing rain a few days before the foray which enabled the group to collect a wide range of interesting specimens. Temperatures at the higher elevation were comfortable in spite of the hot weather.

Two groups headed out from different locations on the access road. Sue led one group down the white trail to its junction with the red and yellow trails. Jackie accompanied two of the CMLC staff and introduced them to the art of the foray and the diversity of mushrooms on the preserve. Ed led the other group down the blue trail to its junction with the red trail at a small meadow. A group of new club members followed Charlotte, eager to gain mushroom wisdom from her years of experience.

The group convened for a picnic lunch at a private pavilion in “downtown” Gerton, following the 2.5 hour foray. Tables were set up for identification of the day’s finds. Foray participants went home with a selection of chanterelles, black trumpets, oysters, milk caps, and old man of the woods. Everyone agreed that this was a great foray location that should be re-visited in future years. Due to the parking limitations and size of the foray area, the maximum number of participants will need to be kept around 20.

Cataloochee Camping Foray: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Date: July 29-31, 2011 / Leaders: Sue Brown & Ed Mayer

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Seventeen club members set up camp at the Cataloochee group campground on Friday afternoon anticipating an active weekend of forays and socializing at this annual club event in the Smoky Mountains. After the crowded camping conditions last year, it was great to have the entire group camp all to ourselves, with 14 tents set up around the meadow. On Friday afternoon campers forayed around the campground, along the river and entrance road. Campers included the club’s mycologist Coleman McCleneghan. On Saturday, 10 more members joined the campers for the day’s forays.

Participants broke into 4 groups. Charlotte led the first on the Rough Fork trail at the head of the valley. This group turned back a little short of the intended distance after hikers informed them that there was a mother bear with cubs a short distance further along the trail. Sue and Coleman led a second group on the Big Fork Ridge trail up to the quarantine enclosure where Elk were first kept when they were reintroduced to the park. The third group, led by Ginger, forayed along the both sides of the river around the old school house and the beginning of the Palmer Creek trail. Finally, Ed led a group that leapfrogged past Ginger’s group, to start foraying half a mile up the Palmer Creek trail. The foray lasted from 9:30AM- to noon, after which everyone returned to the campsite to display and identify their finds, relax and enjoy a picnic lunch. The afternoon foray began at 2:30. Charlotte and Coleman took a small group to explore an old road bed at the beginning of the paved access road into the Cataloochee Valley. Ed and Sue led a second group along the Little Cataloochee trail that begins on the dirt road leading to the Big Creek Campground. At the end of the day, a delicious pot luck dinner was shared by campers and day trippers.

Despite relatively dry conditions, an impressive array of mushrooms were displayed. Charlotte, Tom, Ken, Arnie, Ginger and others helped Coleman with identification. Altogether, 96 species were identified, of which seven were new records for the club. Sunday morning Coleman led a walk around the tables pointing out the characteristic features used to identify many of the finds, with special focus on the ascomycetes such as cup and club fungi, and cordyceps. In agreement with the clubs arrangement with the park service, all identified specimens had a GPS location so our finds can be added to the park’s biodiversity data base.

For the most part the weather cooperated but an unwelcome shower on Sunday, during the table walk, sent us home with wet camping gear. All in all, it was a very successful weekend.

Dupont State Forest – Second Foray
Date: August 6, 2011 / Leader: Ken McGill

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There were 19 people and two dogs on the Guion Farm Dupont foray. We split into two groups, one led by Ken McGill and the other by Arnie Cremer. The weather was hot and humid but the forest was rather dry. There was an abundance of toothed fungi: Sarcodon and Hydnellum. Unfortunately no Hydnum and not many other edibles in good condition. We forayed for a little less than two hours then gathered at the pavilion to eat lunch and identify our finds. Lunch was enhanced by contributions from summer gardens and everyone helped with identification in one way or another. Thunderstorms began rolling in around 1:00. After a particularly close lightning bolt and crack of thunder, we packed up and left just in time to drive home in the pouring rain.

We were able to identify 36 species, of which one third were boletes – a good diversity though far short of the abundance and variety (25 species) of boletes found here at the same time last year. And yet … seven of them were not found last year. So in two years we have found no less than 32 different boletes in this particular area.

Chimney Rock State Park Foray
Date: August 14, 2011 / Leader: Charlotte Caplan, Mycologist: Dr. Coleman McCleneghan

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Twenty-one club members, plus Coleman’s student, Alexis (Lexie), met in the meadow area at Chimney Rock State Park at 10:00 AM. In the morning, we forayed in two groups, one following the “Great Woodland Adventure Trail” and the other a less well-defined trail in the forest nearby. Both trails feature some of the oldest undisturbed forest in the Park, primarily mixed hardwoods on a gentle to moderate slope. Conditions were fairly dry and our collections featured mainly the smaller species rather than large (or edible) ones. Fortunately, Coleman had brought with her several good specimens from Watauga County to add to the display.

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 two large open tents at the far end of the parking area. We set out our specimens on some of the tables and got to work on identification, led by Coleman. Meanwhile Ginger Fisher and Barbara Rothrock set up other tables for children’s activities: - a coloring/art station, a build-your-own-mushroom station, a mushroom science station, and a face painting/hand stamping station Lexie took on the face painting and did an awesome job.

Park attendance has been down this year because of major maintenance work on the elevator and parking area, so we had fewer visitors to our tables than last year. But those who came were evidently impressed by our display, and several children spent a lot of time with us.

We found and identified 41 species (down from 50 last year). It seems that Chimney Rock has yet to show us its full fungal potential. Perhaps next year we will be luckier with our timing. None the less, eight species were first records for the club, including Agaricus auricolor, with a striking cadmium yellow center to the cap, and the Black Jelly Oyster (Resupinatus applicatus), not uncommon but hard to spot. Falling over a log helps.

  • Tables
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