Sunday, 11 December 2016

Rowland Wood in December: Mince pies and Oysters

It was the last conservation work party of the year today at Butterfly Conservation's Rowland Wood reserve in Sussex. A perfect opportunity for some fungus-surveying, while Michael was busy doing some real work: chopping down Birch trees.

I soon started racking-up the species: Small Stagshorn Calocera cornea and Common Jellyspot Dacrymyces stillatus growing on some old de-barked logs next to where we park the cars; Coral Spot Nectria cinnabarina (in its anamorphic state) growing on a stick which was lying around nearby; and plenty of Candlesnuff Xylaria hypoxylon growing up from the decaying tree-stumps round about.

At the side of the track, next to the gate to Rowland Wood, the remains of a curious-looking mushroom caught my eye.

I've never seen anything like this before. I think it's a White Saddle Helvella crispa: there wasn't much left of the cap, but the ribbed stem seems quite distinctive.

I got a few more species under the conifers on the western side of the track which runs into Rowland Wood.

Consulting with the Collins Complete (photographic) Guide, I convinced myself that these oysterlings growing on dead conifer wood were Elastic Oysterling Panellus mitis. They were notably stretchy when pulled apart, and rather slimy – which fits with the description of them having a "gelatinous surface".

Now I come to Google "Panellus mitis", it seems there are relatively few (if any) records of this species in Sussex. So I may have been too hasty in my field identification. And I'm rather regretting not getting a specimen (or any better pictures). Doh!

Growing in the needle litter under the pines, I found False Chanterelle Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca. This species has cropped up on a number of Sussex Fungus Group forays this year, so is starting to look familiar, with those repeatedly forked gills.

These were nearby Glistening Inkcap Coprinellus micaceus growing up from a bit of buried dead wood. You can see the tiny white 'micaceus' granules here, which give the mushroom its scientific name, so I think I'm safe calling it C. micaceus.

After stopping off to say hello to the conservation volunteers, at a moment which just happened to coincide with teabreak and the production of not-one-but-two tins of delicious mince pies (and a gingerbread cake), I wandered over to an area of Birch coppice at TQ51511500.

Mince pies!

The birch here was cut a year or two ago and the logs have been stacked around the edge of the coppice compartment – providing lots of dead wood for the fungi to enjoy.

Michael pointed out this Yellow Stagshorn Calocera viscosa growing underneath one of the log piles. (I think from a rotting tree stump, but I should have taken a proper look.)

I pulled one up to have a look at it and was suprised at the tenacity with which this tough little fungus clung onto the substrate.

It surprised me that it has such a long and rubbery 'root'.

On one of the old Birch logs, I saw quite a few of these:

I took them for another species of oysterling at first, and got all excited when I saw the fuzzy upperside as I thought they might be Woolly Oyster Hohenbuehelia mastrucata which the Collins Complete (photographic) Guide describes as 'scarce'. But now I've had a chance to think about it, I think they're young Splitgill Schizophyllum commune a species which I found very close to here back in February. Still very nice to see.

On the same log pile, I thought this might be Beech Jellydisc Neobulgaria pura var. foliacea. (But now I'm wondering if it's Exidia plana.)

Finally I headed for the Big Beech, to see what it had in store for me this month.

These oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus sp.) were growing underneath the main trunk of the fallen Beech. I think they're the classic Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus but I'm not 100 percent sure it's not one of the other Pleurotus species.

While I was down there I also noticed this large pile of sawdust which, although not of any particular mycological interest, deserves a mention. It seems something has been carrying out some major excavations of the Big Beech. My money's on wasps.

Pile of sawdust under the fallen trunk of the Big Beech.
There were more oysterlings – different to the ones I'd seen earlier.

These ones had a dry cap with a slightly wavy margin and a short, tapered stipe. I'm thinking they might be Bitter Oysterling Panellus stipticus.

There were also lots of little outcrops of what-I'm-calling Purple Jellydisc Ascocoryne sarcoides on the side of the main trunk. (Although I think you might need microscopy to confirm Ascocoryne identification.)

And another resupinate black brain-y thing. Again, not sure if this is Beech Jellydisc Neobulgaria pura var. foliacea or Exidia plana.

There were still a few mature Porcelain Fungi Oudemansiella mucida hanging on two months after they first started to make an appearance. And a nice fresh Hairy Curtain Crust Stereum hirsutum.

Finally some Mycenas which I was tempted to ignore. I wondered if they might be Angel's Bonnet Mycena arcangeliana and am trying to decide if they smell like "iodine", but hampered by not really knowing what iodine smells like. Apparently the smell is more noticeable in dried specimens, so I've got one sitting on the radiator as I type.

For the record
Date: 11/12/2016
Location: Rowland Wood
Grid ref: Big Beech is at TQ514150
Entered into FRDBI: 12/02/2017

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