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:
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.
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
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
Location: Horton Wood, Small Dole
Grid reference: TQ208127 (site centroid)
Entered into FRDBI: 13/02/2017