Monday, 7 November 2016

Kidbrooke Park

The Sussex Fungus Group met at Kidbrooke Park on Sunday, a private site just outside Forest Row and grounds of the Michael Hall Steiner Waldorf school, where we were joined by Brad Scott of the Forest Row Natural History group.

The fungus kingdom laid on an intriguing show for us throughout this large and varied site; although many of our most interesting finds were very small. Too small for the taking of satisfactory photographs with my compact camera.

Stepping out onto the expansive lawn, we came across a lovely patch of Golden Spindles Clavulinopsis fusiformis, with a few Scarlet Caterpillarclubs Cordyceps militaris mixed in. It was a treat to see their slim bright fruit bodies poking up throught the mossy turf.

Moving under the conifers at the edge of the lawn, Nick Aplin pointed out the equally small Conifer Conecap Baeospora myosura growing among the litter. We also came across a patch of spiky puffballs and I was interested to know whether it would be possible to identify them from visual characteristics. Following some debate about their spikiness, it seemed no one was sufficiently confident to settle on an ID in the field, so Nick took a specimen for determination.

Puffball of some kind, Lycoperdon sp.
We also came across an Agaricus mushroom of some kind. There are several species like this which look alike, so Ted Tuddenham took a sample for determination.

Agaricus sp.

A little further on, under a line of Beech trees, we came across a troop of Buttercap Collybia (=Rhodocollybia) butryracea.

Buttercap Collybia (=Rhodocollybia) butryracea, blending in.

It's their greasy caps which give them their name.

This is a common mushroom which I feel I should recognise if I meet it again, so I stopped to get a good look at its features. It's interesting to see how the cap colour changes, depending on how old and dried out it is:

Buttercap Collybia (=Rhodocollybia) butryracea
Returning to the theme of small things, Nick found a most incredible little pink Mycena growing on dead fern debris. He took a specimen for determination, but I'm going to throw caution to the wind and say based on some cursory Googling – they could have been Mycena pterigena. Well worth looking at these photos of M. pterigena as they give you an idea of just how small and pink these little beauties were.

In the same patch of leaf litter Nick also found Slender Club Macrotyphula juncea Pipe Club Macrotyphula fistulosa*, which I wouldn't have clocked as a fungus at all, if it hadn't been pointed out to me.

A little further on, my field notes say we found a "weird little white thing looks upside down". Again, too tiny to photograph. Nick identified this as a young example of Plicaturopsis crispa. They looked rather like the second photo down on this page, here.

Walking through the mixed woodland we got a reasonable haul of mushrooms. As well as the obligatory Honey Fungus Armillaria mellea and Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria, we found various little brown jobs from the Bonnet Mycena, Webcap Cortinarius, Milkcap Lactarius and Pinkgill Entoloma families.

Nick suggested it would be worth getting a look at the spores of the Entoloma we found growing in damp woodland with Willow Entoloma Politum – under the microscope. So I have. They look like this:

Entoloma spores. 1000x magnification.

Our route took us past this stunning iron-rich stream...

... and on to an old fallen Beech tree which we all fell upon – fascinated by the diverse community of fungi and myxomycetes growing here.

Sussex Fungus Group in action.
As well as the now-familiar Porcelain Fungus Oudemansiella mucida, we found a stunning display of Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus.

And a beautiful Olive Oysterling Sarcomyxa serotina.

Jelly fungi were also out in force doing their bit to cleave the bark away from this deadwood hulk.

Beech Jellydisc Neobulgaria pura
Purple Jellydisc Ascocoryne sarcoides
And Small Stagshorn Calocera cornea was there, taking advantage of the exposed wood.

Even the Wrinkled Crust Phlebia radiata looked gorgeous in its own wrinkly way.

Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fasciculare peeped out from the rotting heartwood, at the broken end of the trunk.

And tucked underneath the main trunk, these golden mushrooms were putting on their own perfect display.

They looked like they could be Golden Scalycap Pholiota aurivella or a similar species; Nick took a specimen for determination.

I also found the remains of a myxomycete, possibly a Stemonitis species, which I'll try and identify this week, if I get the chance. And over the whole trunk, Woodwart Hypoxylon species swarmed.

On our route back to the cars we found a solitary waxcap, Snowy Waxcap Hygrocybe virginia, which didn't look snowy at all – more like a splash of milky tea. As well as Slippery Jack Suillus luteus and this patch of Clouded Funnel Clitocybe nebularis.

We saw a few more tiny mushrooms as we wandered back across the lawn, including a few False Chanterelle Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca, growing underneath a large conifer. But by now time was pressing, so we didn't linger long.

With thanks to the Michael Hall school for allowing Sussex Fungus Group access to survey this fabulous site and to Brad for making sure we didn't get lost.

For the record
Date: 06/11/2016
Location: Kidbrooke Park (private site)

All records to be submitted by Sussex Fungus Group / Nick Aplin.

* Correction to original posting 08/11/2016

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Usual Haunts

To Hoe Wood this afternoon, to see what's happening and revisit some mushrooms seen during a lunchtime stroll on Halloween.

There are two parts to Hoe Wood: A public section, which forms part of Sussex Wildlife Trust's Woods Mill nature reserve where my colleagues run their Nature Tots sessions and school visits; and a private section, also owned by Sussex Wildlife Trust, which is accessible only with permission.

I have permission from the site manager to visit the private section of Hoe Wood for survey purposes, so I started there. But there was very little happening fungus-wise.

I recognised this as some kind of Coral species – a Clavulina or Ramaria species – and noted that its flesh seemed quite brittle. With those finely branching tips which you can just about make out in the photo, I think this is Crested Coral Clavulina coralloides; a common species in woodlands.

A few patches of fresh yellow mushrooms emerged from bits of deadwood lying around. These look good for Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fasciculare.

That was about it, save for a few grey Bonnet Mycena mushrooms, which I did my best to ignore.

So I headed from there back to Woods Mill, to pick up the path into the public section of Hoe Wood, which runs from the dipping pond. There seemed to be much more happening here.

I saw no sign of the Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria which had looked so splendid on Monday.

Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria
But I did spot the white mushrooms, which my colleague Jess had pointed out on Monday, nestled in amongst some tree roots (couldn't quite figure out what tree).

Not entirely sure what genus I'm in here. I think it's probably a Knight Tricholoma, with those white and emarginate gills.

Let's have a go with Funga Nordica!

The white cap and absence of a ring on the stem takes me to Key B: Dominantly white or cream Tricholoma.

Question 1 asks about a radial structure on the cap. I see nothing of that sort.

Question 2 splits things according to smell and the colour of the cap. My mushroom does smell of something, although I couldn't tell you if it's more like "celery" or an "unpleasant flower". But a white or cream cap should take me to question 3, so I'll press on.

Question 3 asks whether the cap turns distinctly yellow when bruised. I give it a good poke and decide it doesn't turn distinctly yellow.

Question 4 wants to know if the gills are "distant to very distant" or "crowded". I go with crowded.

Question 5, given my mushroom's "white to cream" cap, takes me on to question 6.

Question 6 takes me to my final choice, between T. stiparophyllum, which boasts among its characters "smell nauseatingly rancid", or T. album with a smell which is "aromatic to sweet, reminding of honey". Another feature which separates them is a distinctly ribbed margin (in T. stiparophyllum) which isn't present in T. album. I don't believe my mushroom has a ribbed margin.

This has gone better than I was expecting and I'm inclined to call this a White Knight Tricholoma album.

Moving on, I see more Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fasciculare.

As well as Birch Polypore Piptoporus betulinus, another familiar species.

Growing on a fallen tree trunk (Birch?), I was very pleased to find this. A great example of Purple Jellydisc Ascocoryne sarcoides, I believe.

Last but not least, this Honey Fungus Armillaria mellea blended in surprisingly well with the background, considering it was growing in such profusion on this old tree stump.

You can see here that the pale stem ring persists in these mature mushrooms, which is a feature of A. mellea.

For the record
Date: 05/11/2016
Location: Hoe Wood
Grid reference: TQ217136
Entered into FRDBI: 12/02/2017

Out of my depth

UPDATE 08/11/2016 As sometimes happens with field identifications, the post below picks up the wrong trail and follows it to some erroneous conclusions. I'll leave it here as a tribute to this blog's title: Misidentifying Fungi. Feel free to skip to the comments for an accurate ID.

I arrived at work on Friday to find this sitting on my desk.

"Who's left their lunchbox on my desk?" I said. And, peering through the lid, I was convinced I could see the remains of a banana in that plastic bag.

However, upon opening my emails, the mystery was solved. I'd received this short missive from Graeme Lyons, the Sussex Wildlife Trust ecologist:

"Hi Clare

I have left a webcap in a lunch box on your desk. I believe it could be the rare Splendid Webcap. Any chance you could look at the spores please?

It’s meant to be deadly poisonous!


Well, asiduous readers of this blog will know that I only found out what Webcaps (Cortinarius species) look like about two months ago, on a trip to Birchden Wood with Sussex Fungus Group. So it was with some trepidation that I took the mushroom out of bag.

This is what I found...

(Ignore the dark line around the top of the stem. I forgot to take a picture before I sliced the stem off to get a spore print.)

It looked fairly orangey-brown by the time it got to me. But Graeme says it looked a bright brilliant yellow in the field.

To be honest, I wouldn't have thought to put it in the genus Cortinarius because I couldn't make out any trace of a cobwebby veil. But let's proceed on the assumption that it is a Cortinarius.

I found that Michael Kuo has written a helpful introduction to the genus Cortinarius, here, which goes through the various features that can be observed to confirm an identification. These include:
  • Mycorrhizal association
  • Sliminess
  • Hygrophanous-ness (yes, he recognises this isn't a word)
  • Colour of the young gills
  • Stem details
  • Odour and taste
  • Reaction to KOH
  • Microscopic details
I messaged Graeme for some more details and he explained he'd found them growing under Beech looking HUGE and brilliant bright yellow.

Mycorrhizal association Beech.

I imagine Graeme's brought me a specimen which had already broken off from its base, so I only had a bit of the stem to look at. The specimen looked to be reasonably mature and fairly dry, so ...

Sliminess Not slimy.

Hygrophanous-ness None observed.

Colour of the young gills – Not observed.

Michael Kuo explains that, "The base of the stem is another important feature in Cortinarius identification ... The stem may be more or less equal, or club-shaped ("clavate" in Mycologese), or swollen dramatically and suddenly at the base, so that the basal bulb has a rim (in which case the bulb is said to be "marginate")." And the remains of the veil are another feature to look out for.

Stem details –  Base not observed. No veil observed. 

Odour and taste – Doesn't smell of much. And I'm definitely not tasting it.

Reaction to KOH – Haven't got any KOH, sorry.

*Hmm... I don't feel like this mushroom identification is going that well...*

Microscopic details – I can do this! Well, kind of. I can have a look at the spores but I can't measure them because I haven't got a graticule (a measuring thing).

I got a spore print which looks like this. RUSTY! Or tobacco-brown. This is a good sign. Cortinarius are supposed to have tobacco-brown spores.

Getting the spores under the microscope, they look like this:

i.e. Sort of a bit lemon or almond shaped. With bobbles on.

I looked in Funga Nordica to see what Cortinarius spores are supposed to look like. A lot of them look broadly like this:

Unfortunately neither my microscope nor my microscopy skills seem quite up to the job of examining the spore ornamentation in great detail. 

So, in conclusion, I have no idea what species of mushroom this is that Graeme left in a lunchbox on my desk.

But for a bit of Saturday morning fun, while I've got Funga Nordica off the shelf, let's see what features we'd need to observe if we did want to make this the Splendid Webcap Cortinarius splendens.

There are over 100 pages of keys to the Cortinarius species in Funga Nordica. A specimen with an indistinct veil, dry cap and dry stem (often with a bulbous base) will get you to the subgenera Phlegmacium in which C. splendens resides.

From there, a bulbous stem and gills which are "initially yellow, green or olivaceous" will get you to Key A to the subgenera Phlegmacium. And these are the features you can observe in the field which will take you to C. splendens:
  1. Cap not hygrophanous ...
  2. Smell faint, weak malty, farinaceous, like black pepper, boiled potatoes, aniseed, radish, unripe banana, apple, marjoram or lemon cake [OK ...]
  3. KOH on cap negative, brownish to ± red brown, or weakly olivaceous [Hmm, must get some KOH...]
  4. Young gills greenish yellow, flesh in stem top not brownish when young [Evidently important to get them while they're young...]
  5. Flesh in both bulb and cap bright yellow or greenish yellow; fruit body intensely coloured... [This would match with Graeme's field observations ...]
  6. With Beech (or very rarely Limes) [Yes!]
  7. Fruit body bright yellow, hardly with any greenish tinges when young. Gills bright lemon yellow when young. Stem bright lemon yellow with a marginate bulb. Smell indistinct.

POSTSCRIPT 05/11/2016 - Here are Graeme's photos of his mushrooms:

For the record
Record to be submitted by Graeme Lyons

Friday, 4 November 2016

Caught by the Fuzz

We found a Bicoloured Deceiver Laccaria bicolor last weekend. Nick said, if I put it in the freezer it would grow a lilac fuzz around the base.

Here's what it looks like after five days in my fridge: CHECK OUT THAT FUZZ !!!

Bicoloured Deceiver Laccaria bicolor
Definitely lilac. That'll be why they call it the Bicoloured Deceiver.