Sunday, 14 February 2016

Ready for this jelly

Another month, another work party at Butterfly Conservation's Park Corner Heath reserve. And a perfect opportunity to shirk off and go looking for fungi in Rowland Wood.

As regular readers may have noticed, I am becoming quite adept at finding jelly fungi. And they nearly always turn out to be some kind of Exidia species.

I've found blobs of jelly fungus on Willow: Exidia recisa.

I've found blobs of jelly fungus on Birch: Exidia repanda (probably)

I've found a flat rubbery jelly fungus, also on Willow: Exidia thuretiana (possibly)

And today I found ANOTHER jelly fungus in one of the old coppice compartments by the lake in Rowland Wood. This time black and brain-like, growing on a rotting (birch?) branch.

With all that previous Exidia experience under my belt, I think I can handle this jelly: I'm calling it Exidia plana. Because I reckon it's just too black and brainy-licious to be anything else.

Next I found this hard rust-coloured and velvety bracket fungus growing on standing dead birch. I think it might be some kind of Phellinus species, as I saw something similar when I was out with Graeme Lyons at Woods Mill the other day. But the advice we had from Martin Allison, County Recorder for Fungi, was that you really need to get these under a microscope (and have the right reference books) to confirm the identification.
 Here's where it was growing:
The Collins' Complete Guide says there's a very rare Phellinus species, called Phellinus lundellii, which is virtually confined to birches. So maybe I've found that?!

From there I headed in the direction of the Big Beech which fell down in high winds around Christmas 2013. The fallen trunk has been left in situ (and a bit of work done to make it safe) so it can continue to provide mature habitat for the creatures of Rowland Wood. And it looks like it's providing some great habitat for the fungi too.

I was thrilled to find what-I-think-is Schizophyllum commune growing high up on one of the fallen boughs. The upper surface of this fungus is nothing to write home about, but the bottom has this incredible patterning to it - reminiscent of quilling.

The top: 

The bottom:
I've been dying to see one ever since someone posted a photo of one on Twitter earlier in the year.

In the shelter of a broken limb, I found another small, pale jelly fungus growing on the exposed timber. 
I think this might be another example of Beech Jellydisc Neobulgaria pura. But I imagine it would need microscopic examination to be sure.

The fallen trunk is also home to swarms of Woodwart, presumably Beech Woodwart Hypoxylon fragiforme.

I am intrigued by the mustard yellow things in the centre of this photo. Under the hand lens they look like tiny grape pips and I don't know if they're another species, or baby Woodwarts, or what.

Update 14/02/16 - here they are under the microscope. I have no idea what these are:

In places, the Woodwart is covered in absolutely tiny purpley-red blobs - only just visible with a hand lens. I'm not sure if this is part of its structure, or another species growing on the old fruiting bodies.

Update 14/02/16 - got the Woodwart under the microscope and here's what those red blobs look like. There are some references on the internet to a species called Nectria episphaeria: "red beads growing on Hypoxylon fragiforme."  Could it be that I've found two species for the price of one?

And my absolute favourite find - although I have precious-little idea what it is - was these shiny neon pink blobs:
Under the hand lens, they look like a mass of tiny pink spheres. My first thought was SLIME MOLD! But I've since read that young Hypoxylon fragiforme are a salmon pink colour - so maybe it's that. I've left it where it is so I can go and have another look next month.

MEANWHILE, back on Park Corner Heath, the conservation volunteers were still hard at work, cutting back an old patch of gorse to encourage new growth...
... and buried deep within the pile of brash that you can see in the foreground, they found this:
Some teeny tiny porcelain-white mushrooms!

My best guess would be that these are a species of Marasmoid mushrooms. But I don't think I'm really ready for these.

For the record
Date: 14/02/16
Location: Park Corner Heath & Rowland Wood
Grid reference: TQ5114

The Big Beech is at TQ514150

Entered into FRDBI: 13/02/2017


  1. Lovely picture of Schizophyllum commune the Split Gill. The resupinate on standing birch is a great find. I have never seen anything this on Birch and it looks very like the picture of Phellinus lundellii in Breitenbach and Kranzlin Fungi of Switzerland Volume 2 page 260 #318. As Martin says it has to go under the microscope for confirmation; the micro feature of note is brown thick walled setae of which some are bent. A seta is a little stiff hair found amongst the strands of the pore surface.

  2. Comments from Nick Aplin on the Sussex Fungi Yahoo Group:

    Yes, it's Hypoxylon fragiforme on the fallen Beech (incidentally 'fragiforme' = Strawberry-like, from the Latin 'Fragaria', a reference to the red colour when young)

    The yellow lumps are a Myxomycete (probably from the genus Trichia).

    I bet the Nectria-like species is Cosmospora arxii, which is a species that is parasitic on Hypoxylon species. It has nice pink patches around the perithecia which I presume is the anamorph. This area of mycology is moving forward at lightning speed, so you might notice that C.arxii isn't even included on the British checklist (yet).

    The last pink blobs (on Beech) aren't Hypoxylon. I guess it's another slime-mould

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  4. Martin Allison kindly agreed to take a look at that Phellinus species for me, under the microscope. Here are his comments:

    "I have now had time to look at your Phellinus – and I only broke one cover slip which is good going!

    I’m afraid it is not P. lundellii – the hymenial setae are too large for this species. It matches well to the common P. ferreus, which I reckon can grow on almost any hardwood. Unfortunately there were no spores (there never is..) so I would not name it as 100% certain. I checked it for the equally common P. ferrugineus, but couldn’t find any setae in the marginal tissue to confirm that species. I have almost given up collecting these things as they always turn out to be one of the two common species, whatever they look like in the field!

    I used Ryvarden & Gilbertson European Polypores as my main reference, alongside Fungi Europaei Volume 10 Polyporaceae. These books list Betula amongst the possible substrates."