Thursday, 18 August 2016

Mushrooms, thousands of 'em

Entering Hoe Wood, I noticed a small cluster of mushrooms nestled between the roots of an oak tree up ahead.

As I walked further on I realised, these same mushrooms were... everywhere.

Tight clusters of them pressed up against the oak trees.

In fact most of the oak trees in the wood had mushrooms for company.

I think these are Spindle Toughshank Collybia (Gymnopus) fusipes, a common mushroom which grows at the base of deciduous trees, especially oak.

They grow in tightly fused clusters and the stipe tapers down to the root base. Like a spindle (if anyone knew what a spindle looks like any more).

The Collins (illustrated) Fungi Guide describes the gills as "crowded", while the Collins Complete (photographic) Guide describes them as "very distant". So that's not very helpful. Both books say the gills are rather irregular.

Well, I'd say these are rather irregular. And more distant than crowded.

The time of year is right for Spindle Toughshank Collybia (Gymnopus) fusipes too.

For the record
Date: 18/08/2016
Location: Hoe Wood, Small Dole [private site]
Grid reference: TQ2113 
Entered into FRDBI: 13/02/2017

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Some like it hot

Thought I'd nip across to Hoe Wood at lunchtime, see what's happening.

Spotted this on the way there a bracket fungus growing on a fallen bough of a big old willow tree.

Wasn't sure what it was at first, but the Collins Complete (photographic) Guide has a handy section at the back highlighting species to look out for in particular habitats. Blushing Bracket Daedaleopsis confragosa is one of the species it says to look out for on willows.

I have seen Blushing Bracket before in almost exactly the same spot, but only in its old age when the brackets turn a deep beetroot colour.

These young Blushing Brackets are all shades of white and beige. You have to give them a squeeze to make them blush, and then the underside turns a deep reddish brown.

My thumb print.

I think these must be very fresh. When I brushed away a fallen leaf from the surface, I noticed the fungal tissue had grown up beneath it, creating a perfect impression.

It will be interesting to see how long they stay this white.

Despite lingering a while by these Blushing Brackets, I did make it as far as Hoe Wood today where I was surprised to find yet more things were happening in the fungal kingdom, in the dry heat of August.

Unfortunately my camera battery didn't make it that far. So that story might have to wait until tomorrow, and another lunch break.

For the record
Date: 17/08/2016
Location: Woods Mill
Grid reference: TQ218136
Entered into FRDBI: 13/02/2017

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Smooth and elegant

I fancied a stroll after work this evening and headed north out of Small Dole towards Oreham Common. At the edge of the public footpath, as I approached Oreham Manor, I happened to catch a glimpse of these.

Sprouting from a well-rotted log, beneath some scrubby trees and surrounded by lanky-looking light-starved nettles, was a colony of... well... what?

I imagined they'd be some kind of oyster mushroom. But a quick up-stipe shot revealed... no gills!

By now I was flicking frantically through the pages of my Collins Complete (photographic) Guide, looking for mushrooms with (a) no gills, and (b) no visible pores. No joy.

At this point I decided to phone Michael, who has been very supportive of my fungi-finding exploits, and ask if he would come and meet me, bringing a copy of the Collins (illustrated)  Fungi Guide, which I'd earlier decided was too heavy to put in my rucksack.

Perusal of the Collins (illustrated) Fungi Guide convinced me I must be somewhere in the genus Polyporus – stemmed polypores with a "toadstool-like fruit body; often with excentric or lateral stem; on wood". But I couldn't match what I was looking at to any of the species described in the book, so I took a small specimen for closer examination at home.

Here it is:

What to say about it?

The elegant outline is perhaps its most striking feature making stipe and cap one seamless sweeping structure,  finished off with a thin and perfectly-rolled rim.

The underside of the cap is an attractive chalky-white colour, with a gradual transition through shades of mousy-brown to the base of the stipe.

The mouse-brown cap has a slightly waxy finish and the underside appears perfectly smooth. Even with a hand lens, I can't make out any pores.

And it has a pleasant mushroomy smell.

The closest match I can find in the Collins (illustrated)  Fungi Guide is the Fringed Polypore Polyporus ciliatus, which fruits in Spring to late Summer widespread but uncommon. (This species isn't included in the Collins 'Complete' (photographic) Guide.)

But I read somewhere else that Polyporus ciliatus is so called because it has fine bristly hairs on the cap and margin. Even looking down the microscope, I can't see any hairs. The rim just looks, well, smooth.

Might share this one on the Sussex Fungus Group forum and see what they think.

UPDATE 05/09/16

I got a second opinion on this Polyporus from the Sussex Fungus Group. The consensus there was it's likely to be a young example of the Bay Polypore Picipes (=Polyporus) badius, but I'd have to get a look at a mature specimen to be sure. 

On Thursday evening I headed north again, out of Small Dole, to get another look at these mushrooms. 

More than two weeks had passed since I last set eyes on them, and this is how I found them: brown, leathery and wavy.

On these fresher specimens, you can see the darker centre to the bay-brown cap, which is indicative of Bay Polypore Picipes (=Polyporus) badius.

On the underside, miniscule pores are just visible to the naked eye and the stipe is a dark chocolate brown colour. 

The Collins Complete (photographic) Guide says there is another species, the Blackfoot Polypore P. leptocephalus (=P. varius), which is similar to P. badius. But in P. leptocephalus only the base of the stipe is black.

I thought at first the light brown dusting on the upper surface of these mushrooms was just dirt, but I think it's some kind of mould.

If I was a hardcore mycologist I'd try and ID this too. I'm not. (Not yet anyway.)

For the record
Date: 16/08/16
Location: Oreham Manor
Grid reference:
Entered into FRDBI: 13/02/2017

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Summer Fungi

With a heatwave around the corner, I was keen to get out and find some fungi this weekend before everything gets frazzled.

I decided to head for Horton Wood, a small corner of ancient semi-natural woodland near Small Dole.

Nestled amongst the dry leaf litter, I found these earthballs.

There are a few species of earthball which all look quite similar. I'm hazarding a guess that this is the Common Earthball Scleroderma citrinum as, according to the Collins (illustrated) Fungi Guide, this species is "attached at base to substrate with coarse whitish mycelial strands." I think I can see these strands in these in the photograph below. Although, at 3 cm diameter, it is a little on the small side for a Common Earthball.

 Here's what it looks like inside:

A little further on I found these. 

Having found Dead Moll's Fingers Xylaria longipes a few weeks ago, I wasn't sure if these are a stubby example of those, or a not-very-stubby example of Dead Man's Fingers Xylaria polymorpha.

Here's a better view of one of those 'fingers'. I'm thinking it's Dead Man's Fingers Xylaria polymorpha but I'm none too confident about it.

This Ganoderma species was looking lovely and fresh, emerging from the base of this windblown tree (possibly Ash?).

I'm desperate to know if this is Southern Bracket Ganoderma australe or Artist's Bracket Ganoderma applanatum. But I haven't figured out how to separate the two (something to do with the size of the pores and spores – beyond my ken).* I looked for the tiny galls which would indicate Artist's Bracket. Didn't find any.

Towards the southern end of the wood, the leaf litter gives way to a different kind of litter as Horton Wood lies adjacent to Horton Landfill site (now closed).

It was here, among the bottle tops and food wrappers, I laid eyes upon this little beauty.

I believe this a Russula of some kind. As the Collins (photographic) Guide says, their colour is "often fugitive." So this delightful dusky mauve cap doesn't tell me much.

It had a surprise in store for me when I turned it over, as it was home to these tiny creatures.

Investigations in the internet suggest these may be Nemastoma bimaculatum, a kind of harvestman. Bimaculatum means "two-spotted" and you can just about make out two spots in one of my photographs, if you zoom right in:

I wish I'd had as much success identifying the mushroom. What I can tell you is:
  • It's surprisingly un-brittle for a Russula, given their common name – the brittlegills
  • The skin peels to about halfway up the cap
  • The gills are adnate (more of less)
  •  It doesn't smell of much
And I've got a bit sitting on a piece of glass on my desk, in the hope I'll get a spore print.

So far all these features are a match for the Charcoal Burner Russula cyanoxantha, a very common species which is found in mixed deciduous woodlands. But I don't think I can get away with saying it's that. 

* 21/01/2017 - there's a useful article by Andy Overall in the journal Field Mycology (volume 17, issue 4) on differentiating G. australe and G. applanatum. Andy suggests that, "when assessing finds of Ganoderma in the field you first apply the thumb test for a soft top, then look for fly galls on the pore surface, before collecting a spore deposit and measuring the spores." G. applanatum spores are generally smaller than those of G. australe.

For the record
Date: 14/08/16
Location: Horton Wood, Small Dole
Grid reference: TQ208127 (site centroid)  

Entered into FRDBI: 13/02/2017