Friday, 2 December 2016

A trip to Kew

I joined the British Mycological Society earlier this year. Mainly because it seemed like the cheapest way to get access to the journal Field Mycology which I'd been told is full of essential information for an aspiring mycologist such as myself. But also because I quite fancied the idea of joining a 'learned society' and finding out what it takes to be a serious mycologist.

The joining process was slightly daunting. The membership form requires the names of two existing members who 'propose' you. Or else you have to supply a brief curriculum vitae giving details on your interests in mycology, and I wasn't sure whether a CV stating, "I don't know much about mycology but I'm very interested," would really cut the mustard. Luckily, Sussex-based mycologists Martin Allison and Vivien Hodge were willing to vouch for me as a "suitable and desirable applicant", and with their names on the form I soon received an email notifying me that my membership request had been accepted.

So it was that I came to be invited to the British Mycological Society's Autumn Meeting and AGM on Saturday 26 November.

I wasn't going to go. The talks sounded rather heavyweight. The titles included words like "phylogeny"; and I didn't know what "phylogeny" means. But the idea of going to a meeting at the Jodrell Laboratory at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, seemed, well... cool. So I sorted out some tunes for the journey and headed for the M25.

I'd braced myself for some awkward loitering before the talks commenced. But as I stepped through the doors of the Jodrell Laboratory, I was greeted by the sight of a table top book sale. The British Mycological Society library was selling off surplus books. And what a pleasure it was to peruse this treasure trove of mycological tomes.

I narrowly resisted purchasing this one by John Ramsbottom, which might have the most gorgeous cover I've ever seen.


My eye was then drawn to this book: FUNGI And How To Know Them, by E. W. Swanton. The title was immediately appealing, as it sounds like exactly the sort of book I wish would be published now. (Peter Marren's Mushrooms has come close, but is a little light on biology and ecology.)

Flicking through the introduction I noticed E. W. Swanton wrote this book in Haslemere, where I grew up, as he was the curator of the Educational Museum, where I received my first introduction to the world of mycology! I had to have this book.

I also invested in a copy of British Boletes by Geoffrey Kibby, which I hope will give me the confidence to attempt some more Bolete identifications (they've all tended to look rather the same to me this year).

Anyway. I should tell you about the talks. They were fascinating! Although I'm not very well equipped to relay them in detail.

Beatrice Senn-Irlet spoke first about the work they're doing on fungi distribution, ecology and conservation in Switzerland. Beatrice explained how records of fungi (held by swissfungi.ch), alongside other sources of environmental data, are used to drive predictive species distribution models highlighting geographic areas which may be important for fungi conservation.

I liked Beatrice's comment that, "It's worth collecting the data, we can do quite a lot of things with them." an inspiring message for all us field mycologists.

Beatrice also described work that's been done looking at neomycetes (translation: new fungi), many of which may present threats as invasive or potentially invasive species. One example she talked about was Favolaschia calocera which is spreading rapidly across the globe. It first appeared in Britain in 2012 and has since spread to several sites in Devon and Cornwall.

The photos Beatrice showed were absolutely gorgeous I'd never seen anything like it.

Favolaschia calocera 38204.jpg
By Michael (inski) - Favolaschia calocera (38204), CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
But concerns were raised about the damage it may be doing to woodlands, having recently observed its effects in Cornwall where recent storms have brought masses of damaged wood down from the canopy.

Reflecting on the matter of neomycetes spreading so rapidly across our increasingly globalised and changing planet, another member of the audience noted that "some of these species are going to cause a lot of problems and some of them will be refugees." He asked, "How do you tell the difference?" There didn't seem to be a simple answer to that question.

Next up Tuula Niskanen spoke to us about Cortinarius and the work she's been doing on the taxonomy of this genus.

Tuula's talk made me feel OK about being rubbish at identifying Cortinarius. She explained that, in the Cortinarius, "most of the morphological characters are continuous". That means it's very hard to see, from features you can observe, where one species stops and another one starts.

DNA barcoding tools and databases are according to Tuula "awesome" in genuses such as this which are very confused, and she's been working hard on sorting out the taxonomy. But even with the insights that DNA can provide, Tuula's view was that you need to try and be practical and keep the old names where possible. Not least because "old names are really hard to kill".


Tuula picked out a couple of species she reckoned field mycologists could have a go at:
  • C. alboamarescens – a teeny tiny white Cortinarius with really small spores, which tastes bitter if you lick the cap (not recommended for Cortinarius novices, as other species of Cortinarius are deadly poisonous)
  • C. glaphurus – a two-coloured, dry, Cortinarius with a brown cap and white stem, turning to blue/purple near the cap. And it smells of cedars.
They still sound pretty tricky to me.

Unfortunately (according to Tuula anyway, and she seemed to know what she was talking about), there are no good field guides to Cortinarius and no good keys. In any case, the continuous nature of the Cortinarius makes them rather unsuited to traditional dichotomous keys.

Tuula explained that there are around 400 species of Cortinarius in Britain and she reckoned, with a couple of years training (going out with an experienced mycologist who is familiar with the Cortinarius) there are around 100 species that you can identify in the field – you just need to know which characters to look for.

It seems, with Cortinarius at least, there is no substitute for going out with someone who knows what they're looking at.

Following that, Ricardo Castilho talked about the survey work and analysis he's done looking at Amanitas in the Iberian peninsula.

Ricardo had a fairly sobering photograph of a toxic mushroom mixed up with a basket of edible Amanita ponderosa, for sale in a local market somewhere in the Iberian peninsula. His point being, "bad taxonomy can kill". I was starting to get the message that taxonomy is WAY MORE EXCITING than I'd ever imagined it would be. You can read about Ricardo's work here.

Jill Kowall, in her talk entitled "Liverworts to the rescue!", explored the relationships between heather, liverworts and mychorrhizal fungi. Jill's laboratory research and field work has shown that the presence of liverworts and their associated mycorrhiza can promote more vigorous growth in heather. Jill suggests that these findings could have important applications in heathland restoration.

Over the lunchbreak, Martin Bidartondo offered a short workshop on reading phylogenetic trees. So now I know what phylogeny means. It's evolution, stupid!

There was the business of the British Mycological Society AGM after lunch. The first AGM I've ever been to where somebody complained it wasn't long enough. Even with the cracking pace, it was clear that the British Mycological Society has had a busy year.

Of most interest to me personally was mention of the new online Fungal Records Database of Britain and Ireland (FRDBI). I had heard whispers that a new fungus recording system was in the pipeline, based on the iRecord / Indicia toolkit developed by the Biological Records Centre. I have a considerable amount of involvement with iRecord / Indicia through my work at Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre, so I've been keen to find out how the toolkit is being deployed to support fungus recording. I was pleased to learn that the new FRDBI site is now operational, although access is currently restricted to previous FRDBI users while they check the site is fully functional. I've requested a new user account, so I look forward to submitting my (hopefully not misidentified) records, as soon as they let me at it.

After the AGM, Sietse van der Linde from Imperial College talked about the research he's been doing on ectomychorrhizal fungi in European Forests. This talk pretty much blew my mind. Working in collaboration with a network of 'research forests' across Europe, Sietse has been mapping mycorrhizal fungi across Europe's major forest types: Beech, Scots Pine and Norway Spruce. By taking soil core samples through the forest floor and running DNA bar-coding on the fungal hyphae growing in association with the trees' root tips, the project has begun to map the distribution of fungi across these forest sites, based not on observations of the fruiting bodies (as field mycologists would traditionally do) but based on where the mycorrhiza are growing. This introduces a new problem, as the DNA of the many of the fungi Sietse is finding do not match up with the DNA profiles that exist on record of known and described fungal species. That means projects such as this have to deal in 'operational taxonomic units' as well as traditional 'species' concepts. What Sietse is finding is that his distribution maps based on presence of mycorrhiza don't necessarily match up with the recorded distributions based on field observations of the fruiting bodies. I sense there is much here to be learned about fungal ecology and distribution.

Pepijn Kooij then introduced us to the world of fungus-growing ants. Pepijn describes his work much better than I ever could in this blog. But, in summary: ants are amazing, fungi are amazing put the two together and evolution starts to seem pretty darn incredible.

Next up was Filipa Cox discussing the distribution of fungi in Antarctica. Filipa referenced an hypothesis proposed by Lourens Baas Becking, which I'd never heard before and rather liked: "Everything is everywhere, but the environment selects". Her research showed that Antarctic soil fungal communities show similarities to the distant Arctic.

Last, but definitely not least, came Pierre-Arthur Moreau, with a lively romp through nearly three hundred years of taxonomic wrangling in the genus Morchella: the true Morels. At one time thought to number as few as three distinct species, taxonomists have now described around 70 species worldwide, many of which are thought to be restricted to a particular continental range. I'm afraid it leaves little hope for the amateur field mycologist hoping to identify any morels she stumbles across. But very interesting, nonetheless.

With many thanks to Martin Bidartondo for organising such an interesting day.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Kidbrooke Park

The Sussex Fungus Group met at Kidbrooke Park on Sunday, a private site just outside Forest Row and grounds of the Michael Hall Steiner Waldorf school, where we were joined by Brad Scott of the Forest Row Natural History group.

The fungus kingdom laid on an intriguing show for us throughout this large and varied site; although many of our most interesting finds were very small. Too small for the taking of satisfactory photographs with my compact camera.

Stepping out onto the expansive lawn, we came across a lovely patch of Golden Spindles Clavulinopsis fusiformis, with a few Scarlet Caterpillarclubs Cordyceps militaris mixed in. It was a treat to see their slim bright fruit bodies poking up throught the mossy turf.

Moving under the conifers at the edge of the lawn, Nick Aplin pointed out the equally small Conifer Conecap Baeospora myosura growing among the litter. We also came across a patch of spiky puffballs and I was interested to know whether it would be possible to identify them from visual characteristics. Following some debate about their spikiness, it seemed no one was sufficiently confident to settle on an ID in the field, so Nick took a specimen for determination.

Puffball of some kind, Lycoperdon sp.
We also came across an Agaricus mushroom of some kind. There are several species like this which look alike, so Ted Tuddenham took a sample for determination.

Agaricus sp.

A little further on, under a line of Beech trees, we came across a troop of Buttercap Collybia (=Rhodocollybia) butryracea.

Buttercap Collybia (=Rhodocollybia) butryracea, blending in.

It's their greasy caps which give them their name.


This is a common mushroom which I feel I should recognise if I meet it again, so I stopped to get a good look at its features. It's interesting to see how the cap colour changes, depending on how old and dried out it is:

Buttercap Collybia (=Rhodocollybia) butryracea
Returning to the theme of small things, Nick found a most incredible little pink Mycena growing on dead fern debris. He took a specimen for determination, but I'm going to throw caution to the wind and say based on some cursory Googling – they could have been Mycena pterigena. Well worth looking at these photos of M. pterigena as they give you an idea of just how small and pink these little beauties were.

In the same patch of leaf litter Nick also found Slender Club Macrotyphula juncea Pipe Club Macrotyphula fistulosa*, which I wouldn't have clocked as a fungus at all, if it hadn't been pointed out to me.

A little further on, my field notes say we found a "weird little white thing looks upside down". Again, too tiny to photograph. Nick identified this as a young example of Plicaturopsis crispa. They looked rather like the second photo down on this page, here.

Walking through the mixed woodland we got a reasonable haul of mushrooms. As well as the obligatory Honey Fungus Armillaria mellea and Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria, we found various little brown jobs from the Bonnet Mycena, Webcap Cortinarius, Milkcap Lactarius and Pinkgill Entoloma families.

Nick suggested it would be worth getting a look at the spores of the Entoloma we found growing in damp woodland with Willow Entoloma Politum – under the microscope. So I have. They look like this:

Entoloma spores. 1000x magnification.
Interesting!

Our route took us past this stunning iron-rich stream...

  
... and on to an old fallen Beech tree which we all fell upon – fascinated by the diverse community of fungi and myxomycetes growing here.

Sussex Fungus Group in action.
As well as the now-familiar Porcelain Fungus Oudemansiella mucida, we found a stunning display of Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus.


And a beautiful Olive Oysterling Sarcomyxa serotina.


Jelly fungi were also out in force doing their bit to cleave the bark away from this deadwood hulk.

Beech Jellydisc Neobulgaria pura
Purple Jellydisc Ascocoryne sarcoides
And Small Stagshorn Calocera cornea was there, taking advantage of the exposed wood.



Even the Wrinkled Crust Phlebia radiata looked gorgeous in its own wrinkly way.


Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fasciculare peeped out from the rotting heartwood, at the broken end of the trunk.



And tucked underneath the main trunk, these golden mushrooms were putting on their own perfect display.
 

They looked like they could be Golden Scalycap Pholiota aurivella or a similar species; Nick took a specimen for determination.

I also found the remains of a myxomycete, possibly a Stemonitis species, which I'll try and identify this week, if I get the chance. And over the whole trunk, Woodwart Hypoxylon species swarmed.

On our route back to the cars we found a solitary waxcap, Snowy Waxcap Hygrocybe virginia, which didn't look snowy at all – more like a splash of milky tea. As well as Slippery Jack Suillus luteus and this patch of Clouded Funnel Clitocybe nebularis.


We saw a few more tiny mushrooms as we wandered back across the lawn, including a few False Chanterelle Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca, growing underneath a large conifer. But by now time was pressing, so we didn't linger long.

With thanks to the Michael Hall school for allowing Sussex Fungus Group access to survey this fabulous site and to Brad for making sure we didn't get lost.

For the record
Date: 06/11/2016
Location: Kidbrooke Park (private site)

All records to be submitted by Sussex Fungus Group / Nick Aplin.

* Correction to original posting 08/11/2016

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Usual Haunts

To Hoe Wood this afternoon, to see what's happening and revisit some mushrooms seen during a lunchtime stroll on Halloween.

There are two parts to Hoe Wood: A public section, which forms part of Sussex Wildlife Trust's Woods Mill nature reserve where my colleagues run their Nature Tots sessions and school visits; and a private section, also owned by Sussex Wildlife Trust, which is accessible only with permission.

I have permission from the site manager to visit the private section of Hoe Wood for survey purposes, so I started there. But there was very little happening fungus-wise.

I recognised this as some kind of Coral species – a Clavulina or Ramaria species – and noted that its flesh seemed quite brittle. With those finely branching tips which you can just about make out in the photo, I think this is Crested Coral Clavulina coralloides; a common species in woodlands.


A few patches of fresh yellow mushrooms emerged from bits of deadwood lying around. These look good for Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fasciculare.


That was about it, save for a few grey Bonnet Mycena mushrooms, which I did my best to ignore.

So I headed from there back to Woods Mill, to pick up the path into the public section of Hoe Wood, which runs from the dipping pond. There seemed to be much more happening here.

I saw no sign of the Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria which had looked so splendid on Monday.

Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria
But I did spot the white mushrooms, which my colleague Jess had pointed out on Monday, nestled in amongst some tree roots (couldn't quite figure out what tree).


Not entirely sure what genus I'm in here. I think it's probably a Knight Tricholoma, with those white and emarginate gills.


Let's have a go with Funga Nordica!

The white cap and absence of a ring on the stem takes me to Key B: Dominantly white or cream Tricholoma.

Question 1 asks about a radial structure on the cap. I see nothing of that sort.

Question 2 splits things according to smell and the colour of the cap. My mushroom does smell of something, although I couldn't tell you if it's more like "celery" or an "unpleasant flower". But a white or cream cap should take me to question 3, so I'll press on.

Question 3 asks whether the cap turns distinctly yellow when bruised. I give it a good poke and decide it doesn't turn distinctly yellow.

Question 4 wants to know if the gills are "distant to very distant" or "crowded". I go with crowded.

Question 5, given my mushroom's "white to cream" cap, takes me on to question 6.

Question 6 takes me to my final choice, between T. stiparophyllum, which boasts among its characters "smell nauseatingly rancid", or T. album with a smell which is "aromatic to sweet, reminding of honey". Another feature which separates them is a distinctly ribbed margin (in T. stiparophyllum) which isn't present in T. album. I don't believe my mushroom has a ribbed margin.

This has gone better than I was expecting and I'm inclined to call this a White Knight Tricholoma album.

Moving on, I see more Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fasciculare.


As well as Birch Polypore Piptoporus betulinus, another familiar species.


Growing on a fallen tree trunk (Birch?), I was very pleased to find this. A great example of Purple Jellydisc Ascocoryne sarcoides, I believe.


Last but not least, this Honey Fungus Armillaria mellea blended in surprisingly well with the background, considering it was growing in such profusion on this old tree stump.


You can see here that the pale stem ring persists in these mature mushrooms, which is a feature of A. mellea.


For the record
Date: 05/11/2016
Location: Hoe Wood
Grid reference: TQ217136

Out of my depth

UPDATE 08/11/2016 As sometimes happens with field identifications, the post below picks up the wrong trail and follows it to some erroneous conclusions. I'll leave it here as a tribute to this blog's title: Misidentifying Fungi. Feel free to skip to the comments for an accurate ID.

I arrived at work on Friday to find this sitting on my desk.


"Who's left their lunchbox on my desk?" I said. And, peering through the lid, I was convinced I could see the remains of a banana in that plastic bag.

However, upon opening my emails, the mystery was solved. I'd received this short missive from Graeme Lyons, the Sussex Wildlife Trust ecologist:

"Hi Clare

I have left a webcap in a lunch box on your desk. I believe it could be the rare Splendid Webcap. Any chance you could look at the spores please?

It’s meant to be deadly poisonous!

Graeme"

Well, asiduous readers of this blog will know that I only found out what Webcaps (Cortinarius species) look like about two months ago, on a trip to Birchden Wood with Sussex Fungus Group. So it was with some trepidation that I took the mushroom out of bag.

This is what I found...

(Ignore the dark line around the top of the stem. I forgot to take a picture before I sliced the stem off to get a spore print.)

It looked fairly orangey-brown by the time it got to me. But Graeme says it looked a bright brilliant yellow in the field.

To be honest, I wouldn't have thought to put it in the genus Cortinarius because I couldn't make out any trace of a cobwebby veil. But let's proceed on the assumption that it is a Cortinarius.

I found that Michael Kuo has written a helpful introduction to the genus Cortinarius, here, which goes through the various features that can be observed to confirm an identification. These include:
  • Mycorrhizal association
  • Sliminess
  • Hygrophanous-ness (yes, he recognises this isn't a word)
  • Colour of the young gills
  • Stem details
  • Odour and taste
  • Reaction to KOH
  • Microscopic details
I messaged Graeme for some more details and he explained he'd found them growing under Beech looking HUGE and brilliant bright yellow.

Mycorrhizal association Beech.

I imagine Graeme's brought me a specimen which had already broken off from its base, so I only had a bit of the stem to look at. The specimen looked to be reasonably mature and fairly dry, so ...

Sliminess Not slimy.

Hygrophanous-ness None observed.

Colour of the young gills – Not observed.

Michael Kuo explains that, "The base of the stem is another important feature in Cortinarius identification ... The stem may be more or less equal, or club-shaped ("clavate" in Mycologese), or swollen dramatically and suddenly at the base, so that the basal bulb has a rim (in which case the bulb is said to be "marginate")." And the remains of the veil are another feature to look out for.

Stem details –  Base not observed. No veil observed. 

Odour and taste – Doesn't smell of much. And I'm definitely not tasting it.

Reaction to KOH – Haven't got any KOH, sorry.

*Hmm... I don't feel like this mushroom identification is going that well...*

Microscopic details – I can do this! Well, kind of. I can have a look at the spores but I can't measure them because I haven't got a graticule (a measuring thing).

I got a spore print which looks like this. RUSTY! Or tobacco-brown. This is a good sign. Cortinarius are supposed to have tobacco-brown spores.


Getting the spores under the microscope, they look like this:


i.e. Sort of a bit lemon or almond shaped. With bobbles on.

I looked in Funga Nordica to see what Cortinarius spores are supposed to look like. A lot of them look broadly like this:



Unfortunately neither my microscope nor my microscopy skills seem quite up to the job of examining the spore ornamentation in great detail. 

So, in conclusion, I have no idea what species of mushroom this is that Graeme left in a lunchbox on my desk.

But for a bit of Saturday morning fun, while I've got Funga Nordica off the shelf, let's see what features we'd need to observe if we did want to make this the Splendid Webcap Cortinarius splendens.

There are over 100 pages of keys to the Cortinarius species in Funga Nordica. A specimen with an indistinct veil, dry cap and dry stem (often with a bulbous base) will get you to the subgenera Phlegmacium in which C. splendens resides.

From there, a bulbous stem and gills which are "initially yellow, green or olivaceous" will get you to Key A to the subgenera Phlegmacium. And these are the features you can observe in the field which will take you to C. splendens:
  1. Cap not hygrophanous ...
  2. Smell faint, weak malty, farinaceous, like black pepper, boiled potatoes, aniseed, radish, unripe banana, apple, marjoram or lemon cake [OK ...]
  3. KOH on cap negative, brownish to ± red brown, or weakly olivaceous [Hmm, must get some KOH...]
  4. Young gills greenish yellow, flesh in stem top not brownish when young [Evidently important to get them while they're young...]
  5. Flesh in both bulb and cap bright yellow or greenish yellow; fruit body intensely coloured... [This would match with Graeme's field observations ...]
  6. With Beech (or very rarely Limes) [Yes!]
  7. Fruit body bright yellow, hardly with any greenish tinges when young. Gills bright lemon yellow when young. Stem bright lemon yellow with a marginate bulb. Smell indistinct.
Simples! 

POSTSCRIPT 05/11/2016 - Here are Graeme's photos of his mushrooms:

Friday, 4 November 2016

Caught by the Fuzz

We found a Bicoloured Deceiver Laccaria bicolor last weekend. Nick said, if I put it in the freezer it would grow a lilac fuzz around the base.

Here's what it looks like after five days in my fridge: CHECK OUT THAT FUZZ !!!

Bicoloured Deceiver Laccaria bicolor
Definitely lilac. That'll be why they call it the Bicoloured Deceiver.


Sunday, 30 October 2016

Now That's What I Call A Fungus Foray

Back out with the Sussex Fungus Group today, this time for a public fungus foray around Tilgate Park in Crawley with Kevin Lerwill from the Gatwick Greenspace Partnership.

I hadn't been to Tilgate Park before, and hadn't appreciated what a vast and varied greenspace this is, wedged between the southern edge of Crawley and the M23. Led by Kevin, our route took us along woodchipped-paths through a mixture of broadleaf and coniferous woodland to the pinetum and back through an area of mature parkland. Nick Aplin, Chair of Sussex Fungus Group, was there to introduce us to the fungi of these different habitats.

We saw many different species, including quite a few not-very-photogenic Mycena and Psathyrella species. So what follows are just a few personal highlights.


Fungus forayers in Tilgate Park, Crawley.

It seems the 2016 fungus season is finally getting into full-swing which gave me a chance to meet a number of different species I haven't come across before, including some very charasmatic mushrooms.

One species I must have come across before is Honey Fungus Armillaria mellea. I'm familiar with its bootlace-like root forms ('rhizomorphs') that spread under the bark of hardwood trees, but much less familiar with the fruiting bodies. We saw masses today, which Nick identified as A. mellea, so I should have got my eye in now.

Honey Fungus Armillaria mellea

More Honey Fungus Armillaria mellea

A new species for me was Birch Knight Tricholoma fulvum – a mycorrhizal species which grows with deciduous trees, mainly Birches (hence the name). The Collins Complete (photographic) Guide describes this as a "brown knight with distinctive yellowish flesh," which you can just about see in the lower of the two photographs below. Nick explained that the yellowish gills become spotted-brown with age – another distinctive feature of this species.

Birch Knight Tricholoma fulvum

Birch Knight Tricholoma fulvum
Growing on a rotting tree stump, we came across two species from a genus which is new to me: Wrinkled Crust Phlebia radiata and Jelly Rot Phlebia tremellosa.

Wrinkled Crust Phlebia radiata

Jelly Rot Phlebia tremellosa
Moving into an area of coniferous woodland, we came across a patch of False Chanterelle Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca diminutive mushrooms of a gorgeous apricot colour, growing with pine.

False Chanterelle Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca 
This species looks superficially similar to the Chanterelle Cantharellus cibarius (which I saw at Stedham Common in early September) but has these repeatedly-forking gill-like structures on the underside – rather different to the real gills of the Chanterelle.


False Chanterelle Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca
Not far away, also growing under pine, we came across a patch of Saffron Milkcap Lactarius deliciosus, slightly past their best.

Saffron Milkcap Lactarius deliciosus
Saffron Milkcap Lactarius deliciosus
The Collins Complete (photographic) Guide describes the milk as "carrot-coloured" which I'd say it pretty spot-on, judging by my photograph above.

Saffron Milkcap Lactarius deliciosus discolours green when damaged, which you can just about see in the photo below. You can also see the darker pits on the stipe (apparently known as 'scrobiculations' great word!) which are another characteristic feature of this species.


As well as a likely Blusher Amanita rubescens growing with the False Chanterelle under the pines, when we emerged into an area of mixed woodland we came across a lovely fresh patch of False Deathcap Amanita citrina. This species can be distinguished from the Deathcap Amanita phalloides by its more persistent veil and strong smell of raw potatoes.


False Deathcap Amanita citrina. Smelt strongly of raw potatoes.

Later on, Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria added a splash of colour where we found it fruiting among the short-mown grass of the pinetum. It was nice to see the Amanitas putting on a display as they've been noticeably absent from most of my fungus forays this year.

The pinetum proved fairly productive as we found quite a few different species in this area of Tilgate Park.

The Yellowleg Bonnet Mycena epipterygia, although small, was fairly memorable because, as well as its yellow stipe, Nick showed us how its gelatinous skin (or 'cuticle') can be peeled away.

We also found a large patch of Primrose Brittlegill Russula sardonia, with its pink stem and wasabi-hot tasting flesh. I did actually summon up the courage to taste a bit; it wasn't pleasant.

Primrose Brittlegill Russula sardonia

One of highlights for me was the Greenfoot Fibrecap Inocybe calamistrata. I don't think I've come across the Inocybes before and the Collins Complete (photographic) Guide warns that they can be "a complex genus, with many species needing microscopic examination for identification". But this one's a real doozy.

Greenfoot Fibrecap Inocybe calamistrata (looks more like a blue foot to me).

Nick also pointed out another species from this genus which he identified as Inocybe mixtilis.  This species doesn't feature in the Collins Complete (photographic) Guide, but it does get an entry in the Collins (illustrated) Fungi Guide, which mentions its "marginate bulbous" stipe. You can just about see how the stipe broadens out at the base, in this photo.

Inocybe mixtilis

We also came across the Bicoloured Deceiver Laccaria bicolor in the pinetum so-called because of a distinctive lilac base to its stipe. (Nick says if I put it in the fridge it will grow a lilac fuzz around the base of the stipe. So I've put it in the fridge...)  

UPDATE 04/11/2016: Click here to see what it looked like after five days in my fridge.


Bicoloured Deceiver Laccaria bicolor

Our fungus foray was bookended by Laccaria, with The Deceiver L. laccata at the beginning and Amethyst Deceiver L. amethystina towards the end, so we were quite well deceived.

Moving on from the pinetum into more of a parkland-type habitat, we came across a Cortinarius species growing with Oak which Nick identified as Earthy Webcap Cortinarius hinnuleus. Distant gills and a pointy centre to the cap are distinctive features of this mushroom. I found the gills quite beautiful. I read afterwards in the Collins Complete (photographic) Guide that this species has "an unpleasant earthy or gassy odour". I wish I'd sniffed it.

Earthy Webcap Cortinarius hinnuleus
Earthy Webcap Cortinarius hinnuleus

From there, Kevin took us in the direction of a fine old Oak tree – home to the perennial Oak Mazegill Daedalea quercina

Fungus forayers under the old Oak tree.
Oak Mazegill Daedalea quercina
Oak Mazegill Daedalea quercina up close.

Near there, Nick pointed out a Dyers Mazegill Phaeolus schweinitzii.

Dyers Mazegill Phaeolus schweinitzii
We'd also seen a patch of Common Mazegill Datronia mollis earlier in the day, so I was thinking, "We've done well for Mazegills!" Until I started writing this blog and realised they're all in entirely different genera, which just goes to show that English names aren't always terrifically helpful in learning how to navigate the fungus kingdom.

Common Mazegill Datronia mollis
That was about it, save for this very fresh-looking Alder Bracket Inonotus radiatus spotted on the way back to the car.



Oh, and a tiny slime mould which I'm going to try and cultivate.

For the record
Date: 30/10/2016
Location: Tilgate Park

All records to be submitted by Nick Aplin, Sussex Fungus Group