Oconee Foray 2014 and Aftermath

A_pelioma1Last 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.

C_lewisiiOne 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.

B_luridus_1When 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 B_luridus_2out, 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.





Berkley polypore

BerkeleyScientific name Bondarzewia berkeleyi. Anyone who has ever seen this giant parasitic/saprophytic mushroom may be interested in Michael Kuo’s description on Mushroom Expert, especially how it affects its host.
Although the Berkeley polypore can become bitter with age, when young like this one it has very tender tips. My friend Chef Seth at Echo Bistro in Knoxville uses the ones I give him to simmer up a wonderful mushroom stock. Maybe that is due to his last name, Simmerman. :-) This is also true of the “black-staining polypore” we usually forage earlier in the summer.

Don’t pass these by.

Trout Fishing or Fall Mushrooms

3I obviously have not been writing lately, but I have a good reason Dear Teacher – I went fishing. It has been a long haul since I decided this past Christmas to run for a third term on the Anderson County, TN, County Commission. There was stiff opposition and August 7th seemed a long way off in January, but it finally arrived, and I was re-elected. The next day, Ellen and I headed for Montana on a fly fishing trip. I had originally thought about taking one day for mushrooming. It is my understanding that King Boletes (Boletus edulis) start showing around mid-August. I never was able to find a local mycology sort to go foraying with me, however,so we settled for fishing. A good choice indeed.

Just a note before I show you some pictures of a magnificent river. We got home Sunday, and I went out Monday. Picked a few pound of lobster and found my first honey mushrooms – four different trees; all chestnut oak. The L. corrugis are plentiful on the dry ridges around here, I also left a Berkley polypore to grow a couple of more days. My chef friend Seth likes them for making stock. It is raining at the moment and the woods are already wet. Guess I’ll foray tomorrow and Friday

67We fished three different sections of the Big Hole River, a total of about 25 miles. The Big Hole arises in the Pioneer Mtns west of Dillon Montana. After joining the Beaverhead River it has a confluence with the Ruby River to form the Jefferson which will join the Madison and Gallatin rivers to form the Missouri River. This is the land of Lewis and Clark as they faced the Bitterroot Mountains. In the spirit of America and exploration, a number of Eagles joined our journey.




The Big Hole River






Ellen was a “Big Brown” winner







Andy Bennett was our guide for two of our days. He not only guided but he was a wonderful, patient teacher in the art of finding trout and how to fish these waters.





A 17-inch brown. Ellen was kind enough to let me fish from the front of the boat so I could catch ones like this also.



Andy taught Ellen the fine art of holding the fish forward so it looks bigger.

We also caught a number of rainbow trout which are the most fun, because they leap out of the water and are great to fish.



Ellen and our guide, Andy, with another nice brown. There were rainbow trout and native Idaho whitefish also.