Last weekend, I attended the annual foray at Oconee State Park in South Carolina. This annual foray began in 2008, and this year about 100 mushroom enthusiasts from the Mushroom Club of Georgia (MCG), the South Carolina Upstate Mushrooms Club (SCUMS) and the Asheville Mushroom Club (AMC), which is my home club. The yeoman’s work putting it all together was GMC’s Sam Landes and his volunteers.
I always try to get to this foray, because it’s where I’m able to keep my field skills current, and there are always species collected that are new to me. Over 160 species were collected this year. It’s sort of my annual fungus checkup! Prominent mycologists (amateur and professional) attending and helping with the I.D. tables were Jay Justice, Walt Sundberg, Britt Bunyard, Alan and Arleen Besstte, among others. The personal interaction with these folks is invaluable to me, especially since there are few experts in my area to share the Fungal Experience.
Each year seems to be different. For example, last year we collected more honey mushrooms than I’ve ever seen, but not a single one this year. Also, notably missing were oyster mushrooms, hen of the woods, only one chicken of the woods found, and so on. BUT, 26 different boletes were selected. It had been very dry, but about 4-inches of rain during the weekend changed that condition.
One interesting mushroom was a chanterelle-looking, and smelling, thing that several of us, with Britt leading, spent at least two hours discussing over refreshments into the wee hours of the morning. None of us had seen it before.The next morning, Alan gave me a quick ID of Cantherellus tabernesis (the name derived from its first collection outside of a tavern). Later, Jay, noting the purplish scales on the cap’s surface, corrected it to Cantherellus lewisii. What I found instructional was listening to the systematic give and take by the experts.
When I got home, I was able to immediately put my weekend bolete experience to use. A friend called a couple of hours after I returned home and said the was an “orange and green” mushroom in the yard across the street from his house. I knew the place because he had called me before when a great chicken of the woods had appeared, on two different occasions. Turns out, it was two beautiful Boletus luridus specimens, This beautiful bolete is the only red-pored one with a reticulated, net-like ornamentatation, stipe. It stained blue so fast that I never got to see the flesh color when I cut it!!
It is classified as poisonous also. Good to know.