Monday, 24 October 2016

In The Mens with the West Weald Fungus Recording Group

I met the West Weald Fungus Recording Group on Sunday for a foray at another of Sussex Wildlife Trust's nature reserves: The Mens.

As we gathered at the beginning, a few members of the group shared tales Violet Webcap Cortinarius violaceus found fruiting very recently in a woodland near Horsham and at another site, over the border, in Hampshire. It was thought to be having a good year, so worth looking out for this impressive species in suitable habitat.

The foray was led by Mike Waterman and members had come from as far away as Kingston and Croydon to survey this ancient Beech woodland. The group moved slowly through the woodland, reporting finds to Mike as we went.

I was pleased to be able to deploy my modest amount of fungus-related knowledge early on, when we spotted a little patch of Small Stagshorn Calocera cornea  a species I'd found growing in profusion on an earlier trip to The Mens. This turned out to be a new "life tick" for Sussex Wildlife Trust ecologist and pan-species lister, Graeme Lyons, so here he is getting that record shot.

A bit further on, this fallen tree offered some fungi interest, including an impressive swathe of Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fasciculare (they looked yellow-er in real life).

Bonnets (Mycena species) were growing all over the place, in abundance. As well as Saffrondrop Bonnet Mycena crocata, we saw a lot of delicate grey bonnets which others identified as Angel's Bonnet M. arcangeliana.

I thought I was beginning to get my head around the Mycenas, so I was completely bemused when this species was pointed out to me as Lilac Bonnet Mycena pura. Its chunky form seemed completely at odds with the other Mycenas I'd seen, but I had to agree it did smell of radishes – a memorable ID feature. "Just roll with it," was the advice of one experienced fungus recorder.

I had a bit more luck recognising the Pluteus. As well as a MASSIVE Deer Shield Pluteus cervinus, we had an impressive yellow Pluteus on a log pile.

This is quite likely to be Lion Shield Pluteus leoninus, which grows on rotting wood of broad-leaved trees, especially Beech. But it can be confused with other yellow Pluteus species, so needs microscopic examination.

UPDATE 25/10/2016 - I've been looking at a 'Key to the better known British Pluteus species' by Richard Iliffe which appeared in the journal Field Mycology (2010 11:3). That takes you to two species with a "wholly yellow to yellow-green cap": P. leoninus and P. chrysophaeus. Apparently the two can be separately by looking, under a microscope, at the skin on the cap (the 'cuticle'):
  • P. leoninus has a filamentous cuticle.
  • P. chrysophaeus has a cellular cuticle.
Types of cap cuticle from Richard Iliffe's article in the journal Field Mycology.
Well, I've been looking at a slither of the cuticle of one of those yellow Pluteus we found, and it looks like this:

Looking down on the cuticle of a Pluteus species. 400 x magnification.

That looks more like the "cellular" picture to me, which would make that yellow mushroom a Yellow Shield Pluteus chrysophaeus. (Actually, to be 100 % correct, my specimen is from another, smaller, yellow mushroom which was growing next to the one in the photograph above.)

We didn't see many mushrooms growing up from the woodland floor. But this was a new one for me and was identified as Common Funnel Cliocybe gibba. You can certainly see the funnel shape in that bottom photo.

One of the highlights for me has to be this: Fenugreek Stalkball Phleogena faginea.

Those tiny fruiting body poking up through the crevices in the bark smelled powerfully of curry!

I was also excited to see what I think was the delightfully-named Lemon Disco Bisporella citrina growing on rotting wood. I brought this home to get a shot under the microscope – it's such a little corker.

Another slightly confusing mushroom was this:

As it was growing up from a moss-covered something (log?), I thought it might be another Pluteus. But I wasn't even close with that guess.

It was identified for us as Rooting Shank Xerula radicata, which the Collins (illustrated) Fungi Guide describes as, "a very variable toadstool" with a wrinkled cap a feature you can just about make out in the picture. As its name would suggest, it was very deeply rooted and growing up from a chunk of buried wood.

We saw many other species which Mike Waterman will add to the group's recording database.

For the record
Date: 23/10/2016
Location: The Mens

All records to be submitted through the West Weald Fungus Recording Group

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