"Huh, well I guess we know what happens in dry chert woodlands after several days of rain," my colleague muttered as I laid myself down on the moist woodland floor for the umpteenth time that day. We weren't on a mushroom foray, per se, but we were trying to compile a plant list for this patch of degraded woods recently placed in my care. We managed to eke out 210 species of plants in a few hours (including burned out sedges and some pretty neat grasses) but I took almost 200 pictures of over 100 different mushrooms that afternoon in the Current River Hills.
Actually, the woods and small cedar-choked glades were pretty diverse, considering that they haven't been actively managed in many years, if ever. But, still, they're nothing very special to look at right now. They've been timbered, browsed, grazed. They haven't been burned in ages and lack structure. We almost tripped over hog wire fences every mile or so and there's clearly a deer problem, as evidenced by the obvious browse line in the understory. A few relic gnarly post oaks remain here and there, scattered on the dry ridges. Stately, 300 year old trees stood as sentries, reminders of the open character of these now-closed woodlands. But, really, it was the mushroom diversity that was truly remarkable.
Leave it to me to leave every single one of my mushroom identification books perched on the stack of maps next to my desk at work. I really meant to grab them so I could key out all of these before posting them for your viewing. But I really wanted to get to the gym, so I left in a hurry. I might have even left my computer on for the night.
So, this will be fun! Tomorrow, I'm setting out for the White River Hills until Friday to continue my little mapping project. Meanwhile, I implore my three readers to chime in with any mushroom identification they might be able to glean from these pictures. A few facts about their habits: most of them were found on dry-mesic chert or dry-mesic dolomite/limestone woodlands. Tree canopy here is dominated by hickory, black oak, and red oak (though traditionally, it would have been full of widely spaced post oaks in the dry uplands and white oaks in the more mesic areas...but I'll rant about that later).
As I throw together a backpack of Fig Newtons, beat up running shoes and a new roll of duct tape to keep the ticks off my ankles, enjoy the mushrooms of the Current River Hills. I'm sure all of you are up to the challenge.