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.
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.
If I was a hardcore mycologist I'd try and ID this too. I'm not. (Not yet anyway.)
For the record
Location: Oreham Manor
Grid reference: TQ223135
Entered into FRDBI: 13/02/2017