We began the day with the session Edible Mushrooms which involved a hike on the Engine Creek Trail which was led by Christine Braaten, a PhD student at University at Tennessee. I have to say she was pretty awesome! Not only was she very knowledgeable but you can tell she was enthusiastic about her subject. I got a lot of information and it made me want to learn more which makes me feel like it was a great session to attend. I like to end up wanting more and being inspired to learn. Here are some of the notes I took:
1. The trail is behind the Greenbrier Ranger Station and is about 5 miles long (which we didn’t do the entire trail). At the end, there is a train engine wreckage.
2. Peak time for mushrooms is late summer and early fall.
3. Mushroom hunting in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is legal. You can gather one pound per person per day as long as it is 200 feet off the trail. (someone might want to photograph the ones near the trail).
4. There are 3000 species of fungi in the park.
5. Trees to fungi ration is 1:5.
6. Lung lichen (Lobaria Pulmanarius) - sensitive to air pollution and probably won’t find any in Knoxville; air quality indicator
7. Mushroom - fungus, most of its biomass lives underground. Reproductive structure that produces spores is what we see.
8. Polypores grow off wood. Harvest young or it turns hard.
9. False morel (Gyromitra esculenta) might not be poisonous if parboiled (at least 3 times) (Correction from Christine: Gyromitra korfii a lighter colored false morel may be considered edible after par boiling and emptying the water each time, despite the name "esculenta" Gyromitra esculenta should never be eaten and its the only false morel that has been responsible for a death.)
11. Reishi - traditional Chinese medicine. Nonsteroidal and anti-inflammatory. Easy to grow. When fresh, boil them 1/2c. to qt. of water for 5 hours. Drink tea (tastes bitter)
12. Oyster mushroom - has gills
13. Milk cap (lactarius volemus) -
14. Russula - red cap
15. Morels can be found on eastern red cedar, hemlocks, ash, tulip poplar
16. Usnea - also called old man’s beard - antiseptic properties
17. Devils urn (urnula craterium)- black, tough, if found it is the right habitat and right time of year for morels.
18. Deer mushroom (plutious servinus) - putrid smelling, gills are white, spores are pink
19. Velvet tooth polypore (tricaptum) - little teeth, fresh after rain.
20. 75,000 fungi have been discovered.
21. Mushroom related deaths in the US- 2 (Correction from Christine: Also the North American Mycological Association (NAMA) after a 30 year study, reported an average of 1-2 deaths "Per Year" in the US.")
23. Elvin Blue Cups (Chloro Cyboria) - bluish tint on logs, no gills
24. Crimini and portabella mushrooms are the same thing.
25. Lichen - gets food from partnership with the algae; no mycelium hidden, what you see is what you get; keeps moss from growing on the rock, secretes acid
26. False Turkey tail - smooth back
27. Turkey Tail - You can feel the spores; make tea; can chew and eat when fresh (Sept.), thick and juicy
28. Trimides Elegans - bigger and smoother than turkey tail (looked like a clam shell to me)
29. Chicken of the woods - bread and eat like chicken fingers
30. Hen of the woods - don’t take if growing on pine, usually get off hardwood.
31. False Hen of the Woods (Mytaki) - stains black, tastes like liver
32. Cinnabar Red Polypor - not poisonous but pretty and red; shelving
33. Orange Parchment Fungus (Sterium complicatum) - orange crust on log
34. Bleeding Canker - black on the tree, looks like someone tried to burn the tree.
35. Orange Witches Butter - orange
36. Lion’s Mane is also edible.
The second session was on Bears and Wild Hogs led by David Whitehead, a TN Wildlife Resource Agency Manager.
1. Hogs are non native to the US
2. Late 1800s - hunting clubs bring hogs back to hunt
3. Hogs like plants with rhizomous high carbs such as spring beautys.
4. Hog wallows attract salamanders but are detrimental because of the constant disturbing.
5. 1987 Congress appropriated funding for hog control in the park.
6. Hogs from coast show pseudorabies (kills dogs but not people) and Brucilosis (deadly to people)
7. Landowners can do anything except poison to control wild hogs; just needs to apply for exemption
8. Killing about 4000 per year.
9. Average litter size is 13-15 and 3 litters a year (in the wild, maybe 2). In the wild, bringing 6 to a year old is a successful litter.
10. Gives birth in Jan. and Feb.
11. Predators: man, bears, wolves, mountain lions. Bobcats and coyote eat babies.
1. Pregnant females will go in den.
2. 80% bears will den in a tree.
3. Males don’t sleep a lot unless it’s cold.
4. TN- 3500 bear including the park
5. Dens can be used over and over but not by the same animal.
6. Den used Oct. to April; bears have a fecal plug and their body recycles waste
7. Eat squawroot, berries, insects, yellow jacket larval bees, carion
8. Do not run from a bear!
9. Bears do not show aggressive behavior. They either attack or don’t’. They show non-defensive or non-aggressive behavior to scare you off (chomp jaws together, blow air, bounce up and down on paws, bluff charge). If it intends to attack there are no signals. If this happens, fight back. Nose is most sensitive part.
10. Babies -weighs 8 oz. when born, by April 5-10 lbs., in Dec. 30-50 lbs.
11. Hibernation now called winter sleep
12. Eggs fertilized, will float until Oct. and then attach. Used to be called delayed implantation and now called delayed development.
13. More bears killed on the coast than in the mountains.
Please come back tomorrow to see what happened on Day 2 of the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage 2013!
Original photo by Pat Hensley