Date: September 29 – October 1, 2017
Leader: Andy Methven
This was our 8th weekend foray at Oconee State Park since 2008. More than 80 members of AMC, MCG and SCUMS took part. Conditions were the driest we have ever seen at the park, yet we found the largest number of species ever, at 195! Many were in far from perfect condition, but Andy Methven led a killer ID team who were able to coax names out of the sorriest specimens. And, perhaps, when there are few large mushrooms to grab attention, foragers start using their eyes and hunting for the “little stuff” that in other years might be overlooked. I know I did. Among the locations visited, Hidden Falls Trail was the most productive and the Palmetto trail the least.
We didn’t just hunt mushrooms. On Friday evening, before the the ice cream social, Andy Methven talked about the Lactarius species (Milk Caps) that we are most likely to encounter in the southern Appalachians and explained, with reference to the inevitable phylogenetic tree, why the recently separated genus Lactifluus is here to stay. Saturday’s potluck was a miracle of fine cooking and smooth organization, followed by the auction that pays for all these shenanigans. Tradd Cotter proved a gifted auctioneer who could whip his post-prandial audience into a high-bidding frenzy.
With 55 new species added this year, our cumulative list for Oconee and environs now stands at 503 species. The rate of new additions (28%) has hardly slowed.