Date: September 30 - October 2, 2016
This was the seventh joint foray at Oconee State Park, Walhalla SC held by AMC, the Mushroom Club of Georgia, and the SC Upstate Mushroom Club. Our mycologists were Jay Justice, Alan & Arleen Bessette, Andy Methven, and Mike Hopping. Charlotte Caplan helped as recorder, and Bill Sheehan managed an exciting new project: selecting and vouchering 12 specimens to be set to Dr. Rytas Vilgalys at Duke for DNA sequencing.
he weather was dry, sunny, and delightfully cool after a hot and mainly dry September. On Friday afternoon we collected on the Lake and Oconee Trails in the State Park. On Saturday we visited the Old Waterwheel Trail within the Park, and Hidden Falls, Burrells Ford/Kings Creek Falls, Licklog Falls, Isaqueena Falls, and the Walhalla Fish Hatchery. Some specimens were brought in from other locations in the Park or in the Sumter National Forest.
On Friday evening, Jay Justice gave us a talk on the Mushrooms of Oconee – a look back at our forays since 2008 and the extraordinary diversity of mushrooms we have found. Bill Sheehan told us about the opportunity for clubs to join a growing “citizen science” initiative by submitting properly vouchered specimens for DNA analysis, which is becoming cheaper and more accessible.
On Saturday we held our traditional potluck dinner in the Lodge, and then returned to the Barn for the live auction of donated “mushroomabilia” and other items. And on Sunday morning Jay and Alan took us on a tour of the mushroom display tables.
Despite the generally dry conditions, we collected a record 191 species – 189 of them identified to species level. 55 species (29%) were new to the Oconee list and 16 of these were first time records for AMC as well. It was clear that late September is a viable time for foraying at Oconee. Best collecting areas were the Old Waterwheel trail in the State Park, and Burrells Ford and Licklog Falls trails in the Chatooga valley. The mycologists were excited to find a rare polypore: Fuscoporia walhbergii, but my favorite new mushroom was a rather undistinguished LBM rejoicing in the name Bogbodia uda.
Thanks to our dedicated mycology crew the total numbr of species identified at Oconee since 2008 now stands at 452.