September 21st, 2012. The next promising roads after the Coleman River Road and the Tallulah River – Tate City roads were the Popcorn – Plum Orchard roads, still in Rabun County.
Popcorn Road drops quite steeply from US-76 and then climbs quite steeply again. When it drops down into the next valley, the road fords and unnamed creek and curves slightly to the left. The road then winds its way uphill into an area dominated by rhododentrons and crossed several times by small creeks; this area is full of springs. When Popcorn Road met Plum Orchard Road, we continued up Plum Orchard Road. We found a variety of Fall wildflowers and mushrooms along these roads.
The hillside rose steeply from the road at one point along Plum Creek Road. A little way up the slope we spotted a magnificent cluster of mushrooms. In addition to the steepness of the slope, it was covered with leaves which made it slippery. But this was a photo op too good to miss.
The main cluster
There was a minor cluster to the right. I scrambled my way up the slope to it and perched precariously to take photos of these mushrooms. A close-up view of mushrooms in the minor cluster.
And then I concentrated on the major cluster.
The complete cluster…
The buttons on the left
A closer view of the cluster of opened mushrooms. The caps of the largest among them was easily 7 to 8 inches in diameter.
A closer view of the largest caps.
Originally, I identified them as a Pholiota species based on the prominent annulus (ring) and the scaly stems but… I've revised this identiification ot Armillaria mellea based on photographs published by the Ohio Mushroom Society.
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The Ohio Mushroom Society: Armillaria mellea