Saturday, 21 January 2017

Mid-winter mushrooms in Horton Wood

A couple of trips to Horton Wood on 28 December and 14 January turned up some nice looking mushrooms, albeit none of them particularly easy to identify.

I wondered if I might be able to identify these big white ones, photographed on 28 December.

They seemed quite impressive in stature.

Obvious features here are the white-cream cap and the felty buff-coloured stipe; strongly decurrent gills; and the fact it's growing up through leaf litter (mostly Oak). Oh, and there are two of them.

I think that means these mushrooms match the field characteristics of Trooping Funnel Infundibulicybe geotropa. But there are similar-looking species, so I'm not sure I can say it's definitely that.

On my visit on 14 January, these two pink-ish mushrooms also caught my eye.

My first thought when I noticed their white flesh, rather brittle gills, and coloured caps – was that they might be Russulas Brittlegills, but the form of the cap and that little nubbin (or 'umbo') on top suggests something different.

(Martin Allison has since told me there's an easy way to separate Russulas from Mycenas, which is to break the stem Russulas have a brittle stem, whereas in Mycenas the stem is fibrous. But if you can arrive at an identification without damaging the living fungus, that is of course preferable.)

On the way home I had a flash of recollection of the chunky lilac mushroom I'd seen on a trip out with the West Weald Fungus Recording Group in October, and it occurred to me that this could be one of those pinky-lilac Mycenas either the Lilac Bonnet Mycena pura or the similar-looking M. rosea.

After my last encounter with M. pura (or M. rosea ?), I chatted with a couple of local mycologists who told me that a robust and chunky pink Mycena like the one I photographed in The Mens would fit with their understanding of the species concept for M. rosea. But they were aware that other mycologists consider that all Mycenas such as these should be treated as variations of M. pura. Indeed, the Collins Complete (photographic) Guide notes that M. rosea "is considered by some merely to be a pink form of M. pura" – so it seems like identifying these mushrooms to species level involves something of a judgement call on whose authority one should follow.

I'm tempted to gamble on these mushrooms in Horton Wood being M. rosea, and see if anyone cares to challenge me...

Also on 14 January, I came across this clump of mushrooms – slightly past their best – growing from a dead wood stump. The stump was fairly well-rotted, so I couldn't tell what species it had been; but something deciduous.

I had meant to get them under the microscope to see if I could get to a species identification, but I must confess that after a busy week I remembered this morning that these two mushrooms were still in a box in my rucksack. Upon opening the box I came face to face with some very well-fed looking maggots, so I have given up on species identification and relocated the mushrooms, and the maggots, to a quiet spot behind the garden shed.

I'm not even sure what group those mushrooms would fall into. Perhaps the Pluteus? But I've never seen Pluteus growing in a clump like that.

Any suggestions?

For the record
Date: 28 December and 14 January
Location: Horton Wood, Small Dole
Grid reference: TQ208127 (site centroid)
Entered into FRDBI: 12/02/2017

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