Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The Amanita from Iping

Iping Common was looking glorious one Friday evening, a couple of weeks ago, when I joined the Sussex Wildlife Trust's wildlife guardians on a walk around the reserve.

Passing this expanse of heather on the right hand side, on the path which runs south west from the car park, we headed into a little patch of mixed birch woodland.

Here, by the path, I spotted this Amanita poking up through the grass: tall and tan and young and lovely.

I only got a couple of snaps as the light was fading and we were on a mission to see the Nightjars.

I've been umming and ahhing about whether this could be the Blusher Amanita rubescens or Grey Spotted Amanita Amanita excelsa. Two species which the Collins Guide says are "much confused".

I'd sort of convinced myself it must be the A. rubescens because my ID guides say the more common variant of A. excelsa A. excelsa var. spissa has a characteristic radish-like smell. And this mushroom didn't have a radish-like smell (I had a proper sniff). It didn't really smell of anything.

But I must admit, it didn't really display any blushing either (i.e. colouring red when cut or bruised), which is the characteristic feature of A. rubescens.

I happened to bump into Vivien Hodge today, who is a very experienced mycologist, so I grabbed the opportunity for a second opinion. She suggested it looks more like A. excelsa, but as I haven't got a clear shot of the gills it's rather difficult to tell. 

So I think I'm close on this one, but can't quite get to a species ID.

For the record
Date: 15 July 2016
Location: Iping Common
Grid ref: SU8421

Sunday, 10 July 2016

On Heyshott Common

Quick trip to Heyshott Common today produced this yellow Russula-type mushroom. It looked so much a part of this heathland scene I didn't want to pick it. So I just have a few photos to go on...

It had been raining heavily before we arrived and the cap was slightly slimy to the touch.

Beneath the yellow cap, the stipe and gills were a creamy-white.

There are a few different yellow Russula species which are typically yellow and white like this: Russula ochroleuca and Russula claroflava, for example. But the habitat here doesn't seem right for those species.

I'll have to admit defeat on this one and recognise I'll have to try harder if I want to identify Russulas to species.

I also passed by these rather diminutive earthballs. I picked one up to have a look at it and found it had no discernable stem it's probably Common Earthball Scleroderma citrinum, but I think I'd have to look at the spores to be sure.

For the record
Date: 10 July 2016
Location: Heyshott Common
Grid ref: SU911194 (or thereabouts)

Monday, 4 July 2016

Unidentified Bolete

Spotted on the walk home: a bolete of some sort, growing at the side of the road under a Hawthorn hedge.

The surface is heavily cracked, revealing yellow flesh.

Underneath, large angular pores of a dull, olivaceous yellow brown colour. They appear not to be bruising, although perhaps it's harder to see in an old specimen like this.


Not sure how you'd classify the gill attachment: adnate? Noted that the flesh discoloured slightly, to a dull green colour, where it was cut.

The stipe is fairly slim and tapers downwards – not club-shaped as you'd expect to see on a classic Boletus.

It has a fairly strong mushroom-y smell.

I'm guessing some kind of Xerocomus species (possibly Suede Bolete Xerocomus subtomentosus). However, there are many that look similar and the Collins (illustrated) Fungi Guide suggests that chemical tests may be necessary to separate these species with confidence.

For the record
Date: 04/07/2016
Location: Small Dole
Grid reference: TQ214135
Entered into FRDBI: 13/02/2017

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Secret Wildlife

This weekend, at a secret location in deepest Sussex, families gathered for the fourth annual Secret Wildlife Festival. I was there, officially in a 'helping out' capacity, but I had a secret mission of my own: To find more slime moulds.

The highlight for me was a trip round Knowlands Wood, a privately-owned woodland of old hornbeam, oak and mixed coppice, with Nick Lear who has been actively managing the site for wildlife since he acquired it more than thirty years ago.

Along one of the wide, sunny rides ideal for butterflies, if only the sun were shining we spotted this bulbous beauty.

I think it's Reticularia lycoperdon (synonym Enteridium lycoperdon) a slime mould. But as the group hurried on, in pursuit of White Admirals, I didn't have much opportunity to study it.

After passing through the butterfly glades, where a few fleeting rays of sunshine brought the promised White Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillaries, we entered an area of dense and damper woodland mostly hornbeam with a few old oaks.

Scanning the woodland floor for signs of life, I was thrilled to see this: An army of Dead Moll's Fingers Xylaria longipes trooping along the dead wood.

The books say Dead Moll's Fingers Xylaria longipes are found on fallen branches of broad-leaved trees, especially Maples and Sycamore. They don't say anything about Hornbeam but they sure seem to love it here.

It's not hard to see why they're called Dead Moll's Fingers. They give a very good impression of dead fingers clawing their way up from the underworld.

According to my field guides, Dead Moll's Fingers Xylaria longipes are more slender than the perhaps-better-known Dead Man's Fingers Xylaria polymorpha and have a longer stem. The Collins Complete (Photographic) Guide also mentions that the stem of Dead Moll's Fingers Xylaria longipes doesn't snap when bent, unlike X. polymorpha. So I think I'm on reasonably safe ground with my identification.

There must have been thousands through this stretch of woodland. They're really fabulous looking things.

I was trailing far behind the rest of the party, so it wasn't until I got back to camp that I discovered no one else had spotted these denizens of dead wood surging up through the woodland floor and surrounding us.

That wasn't all this stretch of woodland had in store. With a bit of looking, I managed to find two more slime moulds...

There was this tapioca-like thing growing on a fallen oak tree, which I'm struggling to identify:

And another example of Wolf's Milk (a Lycogala species):

The colour seems a deeper, more carmine shade than I've seen previously. Perhaps it's L. epidendrum...?

For the record
Date: 3 July 2016 
Location: Knowlands Wood [private site]
Grid reference: TQ4117
Fungus record entered into FRDBI: 13/02/2017