Friday, 21 July 2017

The curious case of the disappearing mushrooms

On a quick walk around Woods Mill at lunchtime on Monday, I came across this scene:

Masses of tiny mushrooms popping up on a decaying log. I thought they were probably Fairy Inkcap Coprinellus disseminatus and just grabbed a quick snap, as I had every intention of going back for a closer look.

Now, suddenly, it's Friday. And I realise I never did go back to look at those mushrooms. So I took a little detour on my way home from work to see how they're doing.

They've gone.

They're not just 'gone over', or shrivelled up, or decaying. I searched all over the log and can find no trace of the mushrooms that I saw on Monday.

Since making my tentative identification on Monday, I've since spotted in the Collins (photographic) Guide that there's another species which is "virtually identical macroscopically to Fairy Inkcap": Psathyrella pygmaea.

So I guess the identity of these vanishing mushrooms must remain a mystery.

And the moral of the story is: never leave till tomorrow mushrooms which you can identify today.

UPDATE 28/07/2017: Today's update is brought to you by the cliché "sometimes life gives you a second chance [at identifying mushrooms]".

A lunchtime stroll took me back past this log, and I was most surprised to see it was once again covered in tiny mushrooms.

Masses of them.

On a second look, I'm sure these must be Fairy Inkcap Coprinellus disseminatus. They have very fragile caps and thin hollow stems.

Looking at photographs of the similar-looking P. pygmaea, here, that species looks much less dainty than C. disseminatus

This habit of growing in profusion swarming all over rotting wood is also characteristic of C. disseminatus; as is the colour change from very pale when young (bottom photograph) to grey-brown, as they mature.

So there we go, I'm calling it: Fairy Inkcap Coprinellus disseminatus. 

But what of it's mysterious reappearance? I have some theories:

1. Some kind of physical paradox has caused these mushrooms to be both present and not-present in our universe: these are Schrödinger's mushrooms.
2. These are spectacularly emphemeral mushrooms – the likes of which I've never seen before.
3. Fairies. 

I also like Laurie's suggestion: these mushrooms are just messing with me. 

POSTSCRIPT 29/07/2017

I returned to this spot today, 23 and a half hours after I took the photographs above.

The mossy log is now a scene of total devastation.


For the record
Date: 17/07/2017 and 28/07/2017
Location: Hoe Wood
Grid reference: TQ217136

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