Monday, 16 May 2016

May the fungus be with you

I'll admit it, I thought fungus was over for the summer.

I should have known better: FUNGUS IS NEVER OVER! It's just waiting for a good day to get fruity.

That's what I've learned this month, after stumbling across these beautiful fruiting bodies basking in the sunny Sussex countryside.

Big, brown and round
Burgeoning from a fallen Ash bough, we spotted this fresh polypore next to a footpath just outside the village of Sutton (near Bignor) while on a butterfly walk with Sussex Butterfly Conservation. We'd done a recce of the route the week before and not seen them, so I reckon these must have sprung up during the first week of May.

Thanks to Cat Åkesson for offering me her hand, for scale you can see that the biggest of these fruiting bodies were almost the size of dinner plates.

Just about visible in the photograph below, the round brackets are growing from a robust stem (strictly speaking, a 'stipe') and the creamy white underside is a mass of slighty irregular pores.

After consulting with my growing collection of field guides, I am inclined to call this Dryad's Saddle Polyporus squamosus a common and widespread species which fruits in Spring or Summer. The Collins (illustrated) Fungi Guide describes it as "a large and unmistakably beautiful fungus." So here's hoping I'm not mistaken.

Date: 8 May 2016
Location: Sutton, West Sussex
Grid reference: SU981156

Peaches and cream
Wow! What a find! On a lunchtime stroll around Woods Mill, Roger French caught sight of this voluptuous beauty growing on the end of a big old log (not sure what species something deciduous).

The colours are just sensational vibrant shades of peach and apricot. And the surface is delightfully smooth.

A couple of people in our group (not me) recognised it immediately as Chicken of the Woods Laetiporus sulphureus. It's another common and widespread species which fruits in Spring to Autumn.

Personally I think it deserves a prettier name. Like 'Apricot Dream', or something.

Date: 16 May 2016
Location: Woods Mill, Small Dole
Grid reference: TQ217137