Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Pleated Inkcap?

I lied when I said I only found those miniscule orange blobs yesterday. In the fields up on top of Tottington Mount I also saw a smattering of what I'm calling Yellow Fieldcaps (Bolbitius titubans) and this solitary little character. Unfortunately we were both being so lashed by wind and rain, this photo was the best I could get.

The first thing I noticed, having learnt the word two days previously, was that it's seriously sulcate. The fine straight gills radiate out from the nub in the centre, separated by a tissue-paper thin cap, like some kind of miniature mousy cocktail umbrella.

This grooved appearance reminded me of the Coprinellus mushrooms I saw the other day, so I turned first to that section of my Collins' Complete Guide.

Two species looked, from the photographs, to be very similar to what I was looking at: The Pleated Inkcap (Parasola plicatilis) and P. auricoma, with the former seeming more likely as its usual habitat is lawns and short grass.

Roger Phillips' Mushrooms notes that "more common but similar is Coprinus leiocephalus", but doesn't appear to include a description of C. leiocephalus in the book; Michael Jordan's Fungi says that C. leiocephalus is found "on damp soil amongst litter in woods generally," so it seems unlikely to be that.

Given where I found it, Pleated Inkcap (Parasola plicatilis) seems the most likely identification.

For the record
Date: 29/12/15
Location: Tottington Mount
Grid reference: TQ219108

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

I went looking for fungi and all I found were these miniscule orange blobs

Can you see them? The miniscule orange blobs just below that one pence piece? They look like fungi to me.

I'm not super confident I'm even in the right kingdom with this but my best guess, after leafing through my collection of ID guides, would be Dacrymyces stillatus, also known as Common Jellyspot.

I had a look at a tiny sample of these miniscule blobs under the microscope, thinking that this might reveal some fascinating structural features. But no, even at 45x magnification, they still look like sticky, shapeless, gelatinous blobs; like a jelly baby that got left in the bottom of your handbag.
The books all offer different descriptions of the shape of Dacrymyces stillatus: Roger Phillips' Mushrooms declares it to be "more or less cushion shaped"; Michael Jordan's Fungi says it's "sub-spherical or more saucer-shaped"; and the Collins' Complete Guide hedges its bets with "cushion-, knob- or, occasionally, cup-shaped." None of them say anything about it being jelly baby shaped. Hmm.

The habitat for D. stillatus is damp decaying wood, including structural timbers. So the ageing gate I found them on would be right for this species. It's also described as "widespread and very common".

Hopefully I'm not making a complete fool of myself by suggesting these miniscule orange blobs could be D. stillatus.

For the record
Date: 29/12/15
Location: Footpath through Tottington Wood / Longlands Wood, Small Dole
Grid reference: TQ21711199

Monday, 28 December 2015

Later cinnamon

I realised this morning that we have not two, but THREE guides to British fungi, languishing on our bookshelves. In addition to Roger Phillips' Mushrooms and Michael Jordan's Encyclopedia of Fungi of Britain & Europe, we also have Collins' Complete Guide to British Mushrooms & Toadstools. And the latter offers the practical advantage of being small enough to fit in my bag.

So Collins' Complete Guide came with me on my amble through the Adur valley today and when I came across some fine looking mushrooms scattered amongst the grass, I did what everyone does with photographic guides and flicked through it, scanning for something that looked like what I was looking at.

Given that the mushroom I was looking at was yellow, and in a field, it seemed a bit too easy when I came across Yellow Fieldcap (Bolbitius titubans).
The book said it's a common and widespread species (encouraging), and all the identification features seem to match pretty well:

  • Bright yellow 
  • Sticky (or "viscid") to the touch 
  • Slender, cylindrical, pale yellow & hollow stem (or "stipe") up to 8 cm long 
  • Gills crowded; pale yellow at first and later cinnamon 
  • Cap 1 - 4 cm across, acorn-shaped then bell-shaped, finally expanding to almost flat; chrome yellow at first, fading to grey-brown at the margin 

I'd found it on improved grassland, used for grazing, so the habitat is also right for B. titubans as they like rich or manured grasslands.

Only Michael Jordan's Fungi has thrown a spanner in the works with reference to a similar, "infrequent", species: B. vitellinus. Apparently the two can be distinguished by colour, "pruinosity of stipe" (had to look this up - it means the extent to which the stem is covered in a fine powder), and spore size.

This is where it gets confusing, because the British Mycological Society GB Checklist of Fungal Names lists B. vitellinus as a synonym for Bolbitius titubans. Which means... they're the same thing?

Wikipedia says they're the same thing too, so it must be true. Maybe I have successfully identified Bolbitius titubans to species level after all?

For the record
Date: 28/12/15
Location: Field between Horton Wood & the River Adur, Small Dole
Grid reference: TQ20671274
Added to FRDBI: 13/02/2017

Deeply sulcate

Found another patch of Glistening Inkcap type things today, close to the patch I found yesterday.

These ones were still showing nicely the glistening mica-like scales and deeply grooved, or "sulcate", pattern of the cap which are typical of Glistening Inkcap (Coprinellus micaceus).

I had another look to see if the stems appeared "downy", which would suggest C. truncorum. Can't say they looked particularly downy, but then I don't know how downy C. truncorum is supposed to look.

For the record
Date: 28/12/15
Location: Horton Wood, Small Dole
Grid reference: TQ208127 (site centroid)
Added to FRDBI: 13/02/2017

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Glistening Inkcaps?

Went to see if I could re-find one of those Oysterlings from yesterday, to check the colour of their spores. Turns out finding a stick in a wood is harder than I'd anticipated.

On the plus side, I found some more, BIGGER, fungi.

I was tempted to call these Glistening Inkcaps (Coprinus micaceus), based on the photograph and description in Mushrooms. But Fungi includes a very similar species, C. truncorum, which apparently "differs in spore characteristics and in the downy young stem."

Having learnt my lesson from yesterday, I did bring a specimen home: It doesn't look particularly downy. But then it doesn't look particularly young either.

In conclusion: it's probably either Coprinus micaceus or C. truncorum, with C. micaceus being the most common. Except I don't think they're even called that any more. I tried Googling them to find out if there's a way to separate these two species without a microscope and discovered another name for this genus is Coprinellus. Looks like Coprinellus is is the preferred name, according to the British Mycological Society GB Checklist of Fungal Names

So, either Coprinellus micaceus or C. truncorum then.

For the record
Date: 27/12/15
Location: Horton Wood, Small Dole
Grid reference: TQ208127 (site centroid)

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Some kind of Oysterling...?

Taking my starting point for this one as Crepidotus sp.

There are four Crepidotus species in Roger Phillips' Mushrooms and six in Michael Jordan's Fungi, giving a list of possible suspects that looks something like this:

The Flat Oysterling (Crepidotus applanatus)
Crepidotus epibryus
Crepidotus lundellii
Yellowing Oysterling (Crepidotus luteolus)
Peeling Oysterling (Crepidotus mollis)
Crepidotus versutus
Variable Oysterling (Crepidotus variabilis)

They're all small, white (or whitish) and most of them grow on decaying wood, twigs or other plant debris. So there go all the ID features I was hoping were gonna get me somewhere.

It doesn't look like C. mollis, because there's no obvious margin. And I don't think it's C. epibryus because that one's really small. 

Of all the Crepidotus species in Fungi, Crepidotus variabilis is the only one described as being "common". So if I had to take a punt, I'd be tempted to go with that. But then Mushrooms says, "In the past thought to be common, but many records have now been redetermined as C. cesattii." So now that doesn't seem like such a safe bet... but - what the?!? - C. cesattii isn't in either of the books. So, er, not sure where that leaves me.

Crepidotus sp.?

What I have learnt today: Should have kept a bit to get a spore print. Finding out if it's "clay pink" or "walnut brown" might have got me a bit further.