Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Fungus records: how are they used?

I gave a presentation to the British Mycological Society's group leaders' meeting in Barnsley at the weekend on Fungus records: how are they used?

I've put my slides & notes together in a Google slide show, in case anyone else is interested.

Happy to discuss!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Something in the night

Well I'm walking 'round Woods Mill, figuring I'll see some bats... Last Saturday night. And I found these lovely mushrooms, popping up on an old fire site.

I figured they were something from that confusing Coprinellus / Coprinopsis / Parasola area of fungal taxonomy. I wouldn't normally attempt to identify such cryptic things but they looked so alluring in the moonlight, I thought I'd give them a go.

Back home I was able to get a closer look at the fruit bodies under the light and got some photos before bed.

That tan nubbin on top, the pleated cap and pale edge to the gills seemed like distinctive features; along with the fact it was growing on an old fire site. I set the cap down on a glass slide to get a spore print over night.

The morning after the night before

Next morning, I found my mushroom had become shadow of its former self. It wasn't deliquescing as such. But it had begun to lose all its structure.

I found a smearing of charcoal coloured spores on the slide, and got them under the microscope.

I measured around 10 spores and made the spore length 12.5 - 13.5 microns, with the average being around 13.0 microns long. Width 5.5 - 6.2 microns, average 5.8 microns.

That seems pretty big for these Coprinellus -type things. Over on the British Mycological Society Facebook page, Richard Shotbolt had suggested perhaps my collection could be Coprinellus impatiens or something very close. But then my measurements seemed a bit on the big side for C. impatiens. (I still have some anxiety about whether I'm actually doing this right but I have checked the calibration on my eyepiece camera at least three times, so I should be doing it right.)

I spent a while poring over descriptions in Funga Nordica, but I'm going to have to admit defeat on this one. I think I'd need to look for microscopic features on the cap ('pileocystidia') to confidently narrow things down but didn't fancy my chances at finding them, as the fruit body was collapsing before my eyes. 

Anyone got any more tips on pinning down an ID for this one? I've still got a little dried out fruit body so could have another go at examining microfeatures, if I knew what I was looking for. 

For the record
Date: 9 June 2018
Location: Woods Mill, Henfield
Grid reference: TQ217136

Monday, 4 June 2018

Almost missed 'em

Came across these mushrooms sprouting up from a bank in Horton Wood on Sunday.

They were pretty fragile and many were broken and toppled over by the time I got to them.

I was intrigued to see they were very similar (the same?) as a mushroom I'd found the day before at Lodsworth (photos here). Interesting how environmental conditions will trigger particular species of fungi to suddenly appear.

I think these are a Psathyrella species.

They produced a reddish brown spore print.

I also had a look at the microcharacters...

Mature spores mounted in water at 400x magnification.

The smooth, dark brown spores were all between 7-8 microns long x 4 - 4.5 microns wide.

Gill edge squash mounted in water at 400x magnification.
I think I could make out a 'germ pore', which is significant in the key in Funga Nordica.

Gill edge squash mounted in water at 400x magnification.

I found lots of 'utriform' cheilocystidia on the gill edges. I looked for cystidia on the gill face (pleurocystidia) and couldn't find any.

An attempt at a gill trama squash mounted in water at 400x magnification.

You can just about make out a basidium here. It looks like it's bearing two spores, but I think I saw at least one more when I was twiddling the focus knob.

There are loads of different Psathyrella species, but I'm hoping these characters together make this a fairly safe bet for Pale Brittlestem P. candolleana  – a common and widespread species found in woodland and grassland.

For the record
Date: 3 June 2018 
Location: Horton Wood, Small Dole
Grid reference: TQ208127 (site centroid)

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Sporulating now

I headed over to Lodsworth today for an introduction to the Ferns of Sussex with Bruce Middleton. Not fungi. But they've got spores so I thought I'd allow them a guest appearance.

Ferns (& their allies) of Lodsworth, from left to right: Wood Horsetail, Bracken, Hart's-tongue Fern, Maidenhair Spleenwort, Rusty-back Fern, Black Spleenwort, Hard Fern, Soft Shield Fern, Scaly Male Fern (if I've remembered them right).
Walking through a meadow, towards the river, we passed a solitary mushroom.

I'm thinking it might be a Psathyrella. It was only about 5 cm high and 2.5 cm across.

The gill attachment looks 'adnate' to me and I'm getting hints of a slight scaliness to the cap. I'm thinking it could be Pale Brittlestem Psathyrella candolleana. Should really do some microscopy to confirm!

It was also nice to see Chicken of the Woods Laetiporus sulphureus fruiting in the village and Dead Man's Fingers Xylaria polymorpha growing up from a rotting stump in the woods.

For the record
Date: 2 June 2018
Location: Lodsworth
Grid ref: Psathyrella sp. SU933230; L. sulphureus SU926232; X. polymorpha SU9323

Spring fungi on Graffham Down

Managed to find a few fungi at Graffham Down last weekend. I think this yellow gnome-hatted specimen was a misshapen Yellow Fieldcap Bolbitius titubans. I found it growing on damp woodchips in the shelter of a bramble patch, in an area of 'Patersons' that had been recently mulched.

I wondered if it had just popped up that morning, following the recent rain, as it had the very slimy cap and lemon yellow gills that are typical of young specimens of this very ephemeral species.

On the other side of the South Downs Way, I found some elderly-looking mushrooms under a patch of scrub in 'Bowley's Field'.

I think these are probably St George's Mushroom Calocybe gambosa.

As we headed back down the steep wooded northern escarpment of Graffham Down towards St Giles Church a well-rotted log by the side of the patch provided some more fungal interest.

These mature Bay Polypores Polyporus durus (= P. badius) had turned a rich, deep chestnut colour.

The fruit bodies were markedly wavy which is another distinctive feature of P. durus.

Underneath, you can see the dark grey base to the stem and the white pore surface.

Somewhat past their best, but still nice to see.

For the record
Date: Sunday 27 May 2018
Location: Graffham Down, West Sussex
Grid ref: (1) SU923161; (2) SU920163; (3) SU930164

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Rosy Bonnets

The Rosy Bonnet Mycena rosea took me by surprise in Horton Wood yesterday, popping up through the remains of the bluebells.

This pair looked rather cute. You can see the 'uniform pink tones' and slightly club-shaped ('clavate') stem base, which I believe is indicative of M. rosea.

Here you can see the pale pink gills with a distinctive 'sinuate' gill attachment.

The strong radishy smell of M rosea was coming through loud and clear.

For the record
Date: 26 May 2018
Location: Horton Wood, Small Dole
Grid reference: TQ208127 (site centroid)

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Commemorative porcelain

I decided to go and explore the woods around Henley, West Sussex, yesterday and take advantage of the royally nice weather.

Heading west from Bexleyhill, the wide sunny rides of Verdley Wood were abuzz with insects. But the predominantly coniferous woodland didn't present much mycological interest. On Henley Common the path emerges into an area of semi-natural ancient woodland, and it was here that I came across a large windblown Beech tree.

A solitary Porcelain Mushroom Oudemansiella mucida was growing on one of its huge boughs: a fitting piece of commemorative porcelain, as the Duke & Duchess of Sussex had just made it official over in Windsor Castle.

The trunk was adorned with some very grand and fresh-looking brackets one of the Ganoderma species (G. applanatum or G. australe).

You can see their cocoa-coloured spores lightly dusting the trunk below.

As I walked on through the mixed woodland of Northpark Copse, I spotted a few dried-out old Birch Polypore Piptoporus betulinus and some ancient Turkeytail Trametes versicolour covering the odd log stack. That was pretty hard to get excited about.

Heading back through the southern part of Northpark Copse I found some more big old Beech trees, including several fallen trunks. One of these was well covered in bracket fungi.

Their uppersides were zoned in shades of cream and brown, stained green with algae.

The undersides displayed distinctly elongate pores.

This confetti-strewn pair reminded me of Meghan and Harry: the happy couple.

I think these must be Lumpy Bracket Trametes gibbosa, because of the elongate pores. Although they don't look very lumpy.

Further on I passed through some old Sweet Chestnut coppice and spotted this by the side of path.


We've evidently been having some great weather for Chicken of the Woods Laetiporus sulphureus.

For the record
Date: 19/05/2018
Location: Henley Common, West Sussex
Grid ref: SU890260 (O. mucida & Ganoderma sp.), SU8825 (T. gibbosa & L. sulphureus)