Mar 1, 2010

Sand dune mushroom

Mushrooms are abundant in the moist forests of the Southern Appalachians, but I did not expect to find a colony growing in the dunes of Tybee Island, Georgia in February. Here they are. Dozens of these small, gilled mushrooms were sprouting from the sand at the toe of the dunes.

An Internet search failed to turn up clues to its identity, but a few minutes with my Peterson field guide uncovered Laccaria trullisata, Sandy Tallowgill. The description is not an exact match, but close enough. According to the McKnights, no other mushroom grows on sand dunes, and this species fruits in summer and fall. It is found as far north as the Great Lakes, and there it surely is dormant in winter. Southern populations apparently emerge on a different schedule, possibly preferring the cooler, shorter winter days.

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